One of my favorite parts of class is the start of class. During these brief minutes at the start of class is a powerful time to teach our ESL students key skills. In class, I use special conversation cards and a teaching tool to help my students practice English with me. Here are some tips on how to begin class and use this time effectively.
Opening Questions Build Conversation
I start every class with the question, “How are you?” In this question I let my student know that I value their feelings and grows my connection to my student. This is a a question taught at the very beginning of level one in the first units so most students are familiar. This question helps connect my student to me. After asking this question, I hold up the popsicle stick prop, ASK TEACHER. This encourages the student to ask me and builds conversation in our online classes. This special prop, ASK TEACHER is used throughout the opening of class to teach the student to answer and ask questions. This is the first step to conversation.
How to Start Building Conversations in Lower Levels
I use basic questions for beginners to get them used to conversation in the ESL online classroom. Questions like, “Are you a boy or a girl?”, “Where to do live?”, “What is your name?”, “Do you like——?” and many others. Once the student masters these simple questions in many classes, I then add in ASK TEACHER. Questions that involve the past tense are added third. I ask my students, “Did you go to school?” The student replies, “I WENT to school.” This is my students first introduction into the past tense.
Open Ended Questions in the Upper Level
I have found that upper level students like to answer questions with, “Yes or No.” I always encourage a complete sentence and I use my opening conversation to help my students form complete sentences. I encourage complete sentences every time my student answers a question. Encouragement and praise is key! In my online classes, I use open ended questions to get my student talking. I use, TELL ME….. type questions to get my student to talk and have conversation. I like having some sentence starters to help them get started.