5 Warmers for your First Week of Teaching Abroad

Moving abroad to teach English can seem daunting to some. Be super-prepared by reading this article on warmers for your first week of teaching abroad, whether in Hong Kong, Australia, Europe or anywhere else in the world.

Half of all work is preparation, so having these warmers ready for your first week of teaching will save you time that you can spend on many other things, like settling into your new city.

As a quick refresher, warmers are things you do in the first five to ten minutes of class to help warm the class up.

They can be perfect ice breakers for the first week too, helping you to get to know your students better. When you meet a new class, the warmers you use can help you to learn your students’ names, more about their personalities, and discover the atmosphere of the class itself.

The only downside of doing fun warmers is that they can mess up your timing for your lesson plan if you’re all having too much fun. Remember to reel it in and continue the activity another time if necessary.

To follow are five warmers – one for every day of the first week, to help you and your new classes get to know each other.

Also Read: Easys ways to teach English grammar!

1) Adjective Anagram

The adjective anagram warmer is suitable for mid to high levels. If you want to use this task for levels that are lower than pre-intermediate, you would need to put some adjectives on the board and define them for the students before getting them to choose the ones for their names.

With higher levels, let them choose their own adjectives, but if need be, put words up starting with vowels to help those with multiple vowels in their names or some of the harder consonants.

Explain to the students that every letter of your name must be used to start an adjective that describes you.

A – adventurous

M – musical

Y – youthful

While explaining how the task works, write your name downward on the board and write an adjective starting with the letter in your name. The adjective could describe your personality, your dress sense, or even your physical form.

After you have introduced yourself, explained each adjective, and give an example as to why you are what you say you are, ask the students to do the same.

The only risk you might find with this warmer is that it can turn into a longer activity where the students mingle to find others with similar adjectives.

Also Read: Monolingual V/s Multi-lingual TEFL classes

2) Running Dictation

A short running dictation is a great way of starting a lesson. Place students in pairs to do the task. It entails putting up a paragraph that students have to run to, read, remember, and tell their partner who will copy it into their notebook or on a piece of paper.

They need to copy it exactly, word for word, so that what they see on the piece of paper, they can see in their notebook. The best reason to use this task at any time of the day is that it will get the energy levels of your class up. For some extra fun and silliness, move the paragraph around while they’re running.

As an example of the task, choose a short paragraph describing your bedroom as it is in that moment. The students must be placed in pairs for this task. One student must be the scribe, and the other student must run to the paragraph, remember as many words as possible, then run to tell their partner. Every 2 minutes, the students must swap positions alternating between running and scribing.

Once they have copied the paragraph correctly, the whole class will listen to you dictate the paragraph for them to check their work.

After their work has been checked, ask each student to tell their partner about the current state of their bedroom. Time permitting, do a whole class shout out to determine whose bedroom is the messiest at that moment.

3) Find Someone Who

“Find Someone Who” is an old favourite that allows for movement, chatting and waking up properly if it is an early morning class. It entails students asking their peers’ questions until they find an answer to a statement. E.g. Find someone who has been to London.

Make your own “Find Someone Who” worksheet for the students in your class. If there are 18 students, find 18 statements to match them.

E.g. Find someone who has an infectious laugh. Find someone who has met a celebrity. Find someone sho has won a prize or competition.

As you might expect, a “Find Someone Who” task could go on for quite some time if you let your students mingle freely for as long as they like. To ensure the timing goes according to plan, have the questions ready for them to ask each other. If you run out of time, you can try to incorporate more time later in the class towards the end of the lesson.

Another option is to do “Find Someone Who” in groups of four rather than with the whole class.

4) Lyric Un-jumbling

Lyric un-jumbling is reordering the lyrics of a song. Choose a popular song that you expect your students to know. Print out the lyrics and cut them out line by line. You can either put the students in pairs or in groups to do this task.

Explain to the class that you can only play the song once, and when they hear the lyrics, they must put them in the right order.

After you have played the song once, you could play it again for them to check their answers, or read it out to them line by line until they all know that the song is in the right order.

Old favourites like The Beatles work very well for most levels.

To take it up a notch, you can make it a start/stop game. When a student wants to move a strip of paper, they must yell “stop”. When they want the song to start again, they must yell “start”.

It gets fun when different groups yell start and stop at the same time. This does, however, increase the timing of the activity a fair amount, so it might be best to keep start/stop for a filler at the end of a lesson one day.

5) Open Cloze

An open cloze is an article that has words missing from the text that the student must fill in. The missing words are usually articles, prepositions and other function words.

To create your own open cloze, choose any article that is appropriate for your students’ level. Remove all prepositions, articles, adverbs and other function words from the text. Keep the original for yourself and make copies of the missing word text for your students.

Explain that they are going to hear an article and must fill in the gaps with the missing words. Tell them that the words will only be function words, not names of places or people, just the parts of the language that link ideas, or show contrast, etc.

After you have read out the article, place the original on the board or the interactive whiteboard. After they check their answers, ask them to tell you which parts of grammar they find more or less difficult so that you can structure their strengths and weaknesses into your future lesson plans.

Also Read: 5 must-know ESL games, activities for TEFL teachers

Getting to know your Students

The warmers listed here cover the main skills your students need in English – reading, writing, speaking, listening, as well as vocabulary and grammar. Each warmer does include a variety of skills, and when done in groups, you can increase your student talking time.

Another bonus is that the atmosphere of the class should be a good one when you start with some high energy or challenging tasks. Your students will be more motivated and after a bit of movement and chatting, they’ll be better able to focus during the presentation stage of your lesson.

After each warmer, ask your students to tell you which ones they found challenging so that you can tailor your plans to support their needs. Even though most schools give you a syllabus to follow, using your own material is usually encouraged, even if only to build rapport with your class.

Travelling abroad to teach English is always an incredible experience. You will get to see life in a different culture while having the ability to earn a living using the language you’ve learnt since birth. Teaching is a rewarding occupation, but adding travel into the mix is where you can have some wonderful adventures.

Using the warmers listed here, you can focus on enjoying your first week abroad and getting to know your students’ skills in fun ways. You’ll soon feel at home and you’ll hopefully have a good rapport with your students, making the experience of teaching English abroad unforgettable.

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This article was originally published on November 11, 2019 and was last updated on June 16, 2020.

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