It’s that time of year again for the famous (will-this-ever-end?) ‘ALT self-introduction’ lesson at my three schools. The first time I did it was in September last year, and now with the start of the new school year, comes the second round of introducing myself and my culture to the students. I admit it is one of the most exhausting 15 lessons I have done so far as it is also the same lesson where the students’ create a first impression of me, so I try to remain as up-beat and enthusiastic as possible so that they can look forward to learning conversational English in the upcoming year (ah, I wish this were true…).
So I have slightly changed the way I do things for this year’s intro, having learnt what works from last year. I find that talking to the students about myself for 20 minutes really killed them and they very quickly lost interest. The pictures I used were also very small, so it took a long time for the students to look at all of them (this year I have chosen one or two main pictures for each self-intro section and made them much larger). I also had the students individually answer questions last year and this didn’t work as a lot of them were too shy to speak or couldn’t understand the question.
So this time round I upped the excitement and turned my self-intro into a multiple choice quiz!
I came up with 10 multiple choice questions that centered around myself, family, interests, and South Africa. Because my schools are not equipped with large screens/projectors that I could easily use, I instead made large posters and laminated A4-sized pictures that I had printed out.
At the beginning of the lesson I explained how the quiz would work: students would get into four teams and each team receive ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, and ‘D’ answer cards. We then go through a question, making sure that they understand what it means, as well as the multiple choice answers. I also added in a picture to each answer as a lot of the time the students didn’t understand what the English words meant. I then give them about 30 seconds to discuss in their teams what the answer to a question could be.
Then at my signal each team would hold up the answer card they think is the correct one. The teams that were correct received a point, and the team with the most points at the end of the quiz were the winners and received stickers that I had bought from South Africa.
After I revealed the answer of a question, I then briefly talked about that particular subject. For example, the first question was ‘Which country do I come from?’. The answer is South Africa and I then show them the South African flag (full sized one at that!). I also have a map of the world and go around to each team and ask them if they knew where South Africa was (most of them do… though some were pointing to South America).
And so it goes.
They really enjoyed seeing pictures of my hobby, which is baking cakes, as well as all the pictures of my pets (I have quite a few back home).
This quiz takes up the whole 50 minutes as I don’t rush and make sure I give the teams enough time to guess the answers. I also take my time walking around the class showing the pictures/posters, and sometimes get the JTE to help hold some as well (especially when it comes to pets – I have 4 separate posters for that).
Oh yes, and just to bring some extra entertainment into my life, I have with me a bottle of Marmite from South Africa (also known as Vegemite in Australia). After the quiz is over, and I have about 5 minutes left of class, I bring out my large bottle of Marmite to the ‘ooo’s’ and ‘ahhh’s’ of the students. I explain to them how much I love Marmite (and I do!) and ask if anyone wants to try some? I provide toothpicks for them to dip into the Marmite.
I then sit back and watch as they pull disgusted faces, cough, splutter, and run for their water bottles as they try to get the taste of Marmite out of their mouths. It’s hilarious! A lot of them say it tastes like miso paste and soy sauce, others say barbecue sauce. Surprisingly I have had at least 5 students (out of the 195) say that they like it. I also get the teachers to try some and that cracks the students up seeing their teachers react in the same way.
But yes, I highly recommend bringing something over from your country for students to taste – it is a great way to share your culture with them.
And that’s a brief run-down of my self-intro. I admit I didn’t come up with this quiz idea myself, I got it from another ALT at the prefectural orientation last year – though I did change it a bit to suit my particular situation and then updated it again for this year. And if I could say one last thing – maybe take this as some tried and tested advice – in order to keep the attention of the students, involve them throughout the whole presentation, keep them thinking, guessing, and having fun in English class – like having a quiz. 🙂
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