Number one for English language teachers

First lessons: Problems and solutions

Anticipating problems in business English lessons.

The most difficult things from the ‘Wish list’ to include in a first lesson are:

  • Responding to student needs when you often don’t know what they are before the course starts (6)
  • Making sure they go away with something they can use (14).

Apart from changing the school system to include some needs analysis at an earlier point (see Needs Analysis article), the only thing you can do is to go into your first class with a very flexible lesson plan. Giving feedback on the language they have used to describe their job etc. during the needs analysis really helps. Another technique I use is simply to take in a whole pack of ready photocopied material including the worksheets given here and materials covering Simple Past/ Present Perfect and the alphabet. I can then respond instantly to anything that comes out in the needs analysis and diagnostic activities. The photocopies never go to waste as they stay in my file waiting for my next first lesson, and are also useful back-up for emergency substitutions

The four stages in the lesson plan (needs analysis / GTKY/  feedback / language work) just about fit into a 90-minute lesson, but there is usually something left over from the language work for either homework or a revision warmer in a future lesson. Sixty minutes is a bit of a squash for all of this, but that simply means that your second lesson is already ready, assuming the needs analysis doesn’t bring something more that needs to be covered more urgently to the fore.

 

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