Lessons Learned – ESL Self Introduction Outline

ESL Self Introduction Outline

20 to 40 min

If you are having trouble thinking of what to say when you introduce yourself to your students here is a basic outline that I found works really well. This is not exclusive to the Japanese classroom and would probably be a great way to break the ice any ESL classroom. Also much of the credit for this outline goes to one of the trainers at the company I work for who gave a very similar version using only a chalkboard. I really liked his presentation and I adapted it using Powerpoint. Please let me know if you have success with this outline.

Purpose: A fun interactive presentation to introduce yourself as a teacher to Japanese students entirely in English.

Secondary Purpose: Make English exciting and worthwhile to the students, “Why would they want to learn English?”

Tertiary Purpose: Make the students see that you will be good to have in the class and that you will make English fun.

It is important to use the most basic language possible even if there is a more correct way to say something simple is always better. If the language is too difficult you will lose your audience. For more complicated ideas use the Japanese teacher to translate for you unless you are comfortable with your Japanese. I am not publishing the pptx file I built that goes with this because its really of no use to anyone since its pictures of my family and me. Wikimedia commons and Google Image search were my resources for all the pictures that I didn’t take myself.

I gave this presentation 20 times. I considered the presentation successful if the class had questions for me, I was able to elicit at least 20 to 30 responses during the presentation and if I was able to get some laughter from the students. My success rate was about 80%. 4 or 5 classes either completely lost interest or I was speaking too fast and they had no idea what I was saying. Luckily the Japanese teacher helped me in these situations. I found that with the ninth graders shorter was better. With 7th and 8th they were very fascinated by the pictures and places in California, America, and information about my family. I got the best laughs pantomiming ridiculous jobs. I got the best responses when asking for hobbies from the class.

Greeting Slide!

Greeting Slide!

  1. Greeting – Pretty straight forward.
  2. Facts about English – I gave some facts about English that I thought were really interesting.
    1. English comes from Germany
    2. English has words from many Languages
      i.        Show Japanese examples of English words borrowed from Japanese. I used taikūn (tycoon), hibachi, and shōyu (soy sauce).
  1. Facts about the USA – For each of these I wrote them out in multiple choice format on the black board. This is a great way to see if they are paying attention and to re-engage them if they have checked out already. After the multiple choice Q&A I drew a freehand map of the US (terribly) and a free hand map of Japan on the board to give them a reference point for size and where my state was in the USA. Also its a chance for a laugh at the terrible art skills.
    1. What is the capital of _____?
    2. How many people live in _____?
    3. How many states (provinces/territories/etc)?
    4. Can you think of some famous places in the US – Depending on the class I wouldn’t have to give examples so before you blaze forward with an example wait at least 10 to 15 seconds to see if they think of any and make sure they understand what you are asking.
      i.   Statue of Liberty Example
      ii.  White House Example
      iii. I used: Mt. Rushmore, Grand Canyon, The Willis Tower, Statue of Liberty, and The White House.
      iv.  If your Japanese city has a sister city in the US I would find out, some of your students may have visited there on an organized trip. I happened to have lived very close to the sister city for Iwanuma.
  1. Facts about State/City – I tried to draw a parallel with prefecture and state in the US to make state an easier concept.
    1. Famous places in the state/city you are from
    2. Follows the same process as famous places in the US.
    3. I used: Hollywood, Disneyland, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Mt. Shasta (resembles Mt. Fuji), Mojave Desert, Golden Gate Bridge & San Diego Wild Animal Park.

      What is California famous for?

      What is California famous for?

  2. Family
    1. Family photo, siblings, wife, children
    2. I used: A picture from my wedding and a picture of both my parents at work.
    3. The students were very fascinated by how many cousins I had so if you have a big family I would bring that up. I also had an “itoko” map of the US that showed where all my cousins lived.
  3. Work before teaching – I asked the students what they thought I did before I was a teacher. If I was hearing crickets I would pantomine a few suggestions. If they started responding right away I would pick out funny suggestions to pantomime.
    1. Pantomime different jobs and have the students guess in English.
    2. Have the students say different jobs that they can think of. (This gets pretty funny. I got everything from Spiderman, due to my passing resemblance to Tobey Maguire, to sumo wrestler and doctor).
    3. I wrote all the jobs on the board and repeated them in English if they were given in Japanese.
  4. Hobbies
    1. Same set up as jobs but instead ask the students what they like to do and write it down on the board.
    2. Share your hobbies with some pantomime. The students enjoyed guessing my favorite hobbies as I pantomimed them, it worked best with sports. Hiking doesn’t translate well to pantomime for instance.

      Snowboarding!!

      Snowboarding!!

  5. Questions
    1. Have the younger students ask questions in Japanese, the older ones should be able to ask in English or with the help of the Japanese English Teacher. I had much less success with questions at the end of the presentation. I think part of it is general shyness but also my lack of Japanese skills. If your Japanese language skills are passable this maybe easier since they can ask in Japanese. I had students ask me how much I make to whether or not I like girls. Depending on your audience this can take thirty seconds to ten minutes. I would definitely put a 5 min time limit on questions.
  6. Student Greeting
    1. For older students have them tell you their name and what they like to do or what sport they play. This can be done randomly or in rows. I regretted not writing their names down and creating a seating chart. If you can I would suggest doing this. I felt like it worked better if the teacher gave them a work book activity and then they each got up one row at a time to introduce themselves to me.
    2. Younger students have them say their name and, “Nice to meet you.”

A final thought: I felt like these went mostly well with the exception of an occasional very sleepy class after lunch or right after P.E. However I did not get a very good feel for any of my classes’ English competency level from my introduction. I can’t rightly make a suggestion without trying it first but finding an activity that lets the students free form some English vocabulary may be a great way to measure that on your first day. If you can squeeze the self intro into 15 to 20 min and, the JTE gives you the whole class, you might want to have the students do an activity that focuses on vocabulary and speaking. Writing down all the words they know and then forming teams to read them aloud. Word bingo, card grab games, any thing to really get them to realize they probably know more English than they think.

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