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Learn How to Make Your First Day Lesson Count

first day lesson

In this post we share some concrete tips for getting the most out of your first day lesson in the EFL classroom!


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Alright, so you are TEFL certified and ready to jump into your first day on the job. You’ve got a book of material from your school and a classroom of 20+ teenagers and adults eagerly awaiting your arrival.

Now for the tough part…where do you begin? How do you plan for that first day lesson?

One place to start is by asking yourself a few key questions.


Should I use the textbook on the first day of class?

tefl student first day


Should you delve into the textbook on day one or not? While some language schools may have a policy on this, many leave it up to the teacher’s discretion. If that’s the position you find yourself in, here’s our humble opinion on the matter: don’t do it.

Why not?

Well for one, you have the whole rest of term to use the textbook to cover the nitty gritty of grammar, vocabulary, reading assignments, and the list goes on.

Two, because there are so many other important goals to hit in the first day lesson of a new term.

And those goals have little to do with what is in the textbook, but yet have everything to do with making for a smooth term of teaching.


What are my goals for my first day lesson?

first day of class


Every lesson planning session starts by an evaluation of the goals of the lesson. Typically this includes items such as what skill the lesson with focus on, what context will be used, and what activities can be implemented to help the students practice the skill within the context.

However, first day lessons are different (especially if you take our advice and keep the book closed).

So what types of goals are we talking about then? What can you focus that first day lesson on that is meaningful?

Our top recommendation would be to focus on class bonding. This can be achieved through various means including:

  • Learning all your students’ names and making sure your students learn each other’s names
  • Setting examples for how to work in pairs and in groups
  • Having students present or share personal information with their classmates
  • Having the students ask the teacher personal questions
  • Drawing, dancing, or doing something silly that breaks people out of their comfort zones (ice-breakers are lifesavers!)

What tone do I want to set during my first day lesson?

TEFL first day lesson


The final question to ask yourself is “What type of tone do I want to set on the first day of term?”.

The answer will be different for each person. Some teachers want to set an easy-going tone, while others want to portray a more disciplined approach. Whatever tone you choose to use, there’s one pitfall we want you to avoid, and it’s this:

Thinking that your student’s energy/mood/excitement/motivation will guide the class.

In our experience we have found that it’s the teacher’s energy and tone which guides the classroom…Not the other way around.

So, choose what vibe you want your class to have and live it yourself as an example to your students.

Ready. Set. Go!


We hope that getting clear on these three questions will help you jump into your new term armed with the tools and mindset you need to be successful.

Happy Teaching!


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