Doing a Self-Introduction  


A new teacher asked me what to do for elementary and junior high school self-introductions.  This is my reply to her, and I thought it a worthwhile post for, too....

For Elementary School

I try to make my introdutions for the elementary students both a little wacky-fun and interactive.  I also like to get them accustomed to the idea that when I'm there, it's time to speak English. To that end, the interactive part allows them to participate in a non-threatening way.
My self-introduction is pretty simple:

  • Hi. 
  • My name is Elton.
  • I am from California.
  • I am 47 years old.
  • I like cycling.
  • I like green. 
  • I like pizza.
  • I like bananas! (With this I visually peel an imaginary banana, and then smash it into my forehead when I say 'BANANAS'. This is one thing the kids seem to remember for YEARS.)
If you have one, you can write these lines on the blackboard for the older grades (some of them will already be studying English privately, and will enjoy the chance to practice what they've studied). Having a series of flashcards for colors, sports, foods and fruit will help with the interactive part, and also help some students follow along and learn new words.

The basic thing for the younger kids especially is REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT.

During the self-intro, I will try to say all of this 3-5 times.

After saying the self-intro the first time (just as it is written on the blackboard), I'll say it a second time, one line at a time, and ask if anyone knows the meaning in Japanese. If they don't know the whole line, I start breaking it down into words/parts, and gesturing or doing whatever I can to give clues. Once they get the meaning, I have the whole class repeat the line once after me.

After going through all of the meanings, I'll say the whole thing again. If the kids are getting restless, vary volume, tone, voice pitch, etc..

One the next round, you can underline one word in each line to change (Elton, California, 47, etc..). In this round, the whole class will repeat after me, changing for themselves whatever they know. For younger/lower ability students, this is the time to get out the flashcards: for each flashcard, have the students for whom the sentence is true (I am from JAPAN.) raise their hands, and then repeat the sentence/changing the word from my self-intro. With this routine you can get through 10 each of color, sports, food and fruit flashcards. Try to choose words that are commonly  on used/known in Japanese (called gairai-go, or loanwords).

For the final round, I ask if there are any students who want to volunteer to do their own self-introduction-- in the same pattern, repeating after me one line at a time and changing one word. If there are no volunteers, volunteer the HRT. Or start with him/her, anyways.

For an added all-class activity to follow this up, have all the kids think of one simple sentence, 'I like pink.' for example. And write it on the blackboard like this:
  • W) I like pink.
  • L) I like blue.
In this activity, all students stand and form a pair with a friend and play Janken. The Winner says their part, and the Loser says a sentence using a word from the same word family (colors, sports, foods, etc.). When a student wins 3 or 5 times (you choose, depending on time) they can get 2 points by circling the little people on the bottom of the Eigo Noto lesson of whatever lesson number you are doing.

Don't explain the activity, but after writing the lines on the blackboard, demonstrate it with the HRT, and then have the HRT ask the students to explain what you just did (in Japanese, of course). This is a great way to check comprehension, and also turn of the kids ability to learn, and explain. Gets the HRT involved, too.

Also, if you want to use a chant for this, the chant for the introduction in Eigo Noto book 1 is arguably the best chant on the whole CD.

For Junior High School

The self-intro I did last year, for the first time, worked really well. I hadn't done a formal self-intro lesson in YEARS (about a decade?!), because I had been in the same town for 12 years, and all the kids from 4 to 27 already knew me.
For this new self-intro, I made 3 posters-
  1. one in English (with about 20 sentences, numbered), 
  2. one in Japanese in the same order (also numbered), and 
  3. one in Japanese in mixed order (but with sentences with the same meaning as the English version).
The first time I said my introduction (in English), I posted the Japanese poster with the sentences in the same order.
On the second reading, I posted the Japanese poster with the sentences in mixed order, pausing after each line for the students to guess which line I had read.
On the third and last reading, I posted the all-English poster, and read the sentences one-by-one, in order.

Just remember to speak SLOWLY the whole time you are reading the lines aloud.

I guess you could make another poster with the English lines in mixed order, and have the students try to guess which line you are reading, too. This would work for older students who have reading ability.

Doing the three readings didn't lose the students, and I was happy to see how attentive they were to listen and read along while I did the third reading with the English poster.

To make the posters- my schools have poster-making machines; you put in a page of print or pictures (some are in color), and a super-sized version is produced on BIG paper. Makes poster-making a breeze, especially if you do the same lesson 15 times, like I did!

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