The first day of school can be kind of a strange day. Depending on the schedule of events, you may not really have a full class period with your students. Often teachers use this day to set the ground rules for the class, pass out books, and start to put names and faces together. There are other teachers who start with great guns and students walk out of the classroom with a substantial homework assignment, even if it is just writing about What I Did on My Summer Vacation. I’m not about to say that either of these scenarios are bad or wrong, but what I suggest is give your students something to take home and show off from their first day of school. In the midst of the bureaucratic things you need to do that first day, be sure your students—and I specifically mean those first-year students—walk out speaking more Spanish than they could when they walked in.
Thanks to Sesame Street and Dora among other programs, first-year students walk into the classroom with some Spanish. So the question is: What is that bit of Spanish they can learn in a short period of time?
- You might start with simple introductions and how to say their age.
- Some Spanish teachers (I am one of them) have students choose a Spanish name to use in class. Learning how to ask people their names and answer that question is a great way to incorporate the phrase ¿Cómo te llamas? Me llamo… The students can go home and practice with their family members.
- Whatever you decide to do, be sure that it is “interactive”. In other words, a conversation starter.
Another activity to do on the first day is talk with your students about how learning Spanish is not only fun, or an academic requirement, but also something that may very well be useful for their future career plans:
- This is where you let your students know that taking Spanish was a good choice and why it was a good choice.
- Find out what kind of careers interest your students. Lead a discussion about where Spanish may fit in those plans.
- For the students who really aren’t sure, give them some ideas. Show them a map showing where Spanish is spoken in the world and give them an idea of the number of people who speak Spanish in this country.
- And course, be enthusiastic and let them leave your class with the feeling that they are going to learn a new language and have fun doing it.
Whatever you do on your first day, remember that you are the face of Spanish. You most likely will have students who are afraid of learning a new language, either because of their own fears or horror stories they heard from parents, older siblings, etc. Stay positive, energetic, and give them something to take away that will help them allay those fears and misgivings.
What are you going to do on Day 1? Share your ideas with us! Most of all, we hope your first day is successful and the beginning of a great school year. Mucha suerte.