Yamagata just got a bunch of new JETs for the 2011 JET programme year. It is exciting to have so many new teachers coming from many different diciplines and backgrounds. Seeing how the new school term is starting, which means that many of you will have introduce yourselfs to the students, I thought I would create a quick guide to self-introductions. I work primarily at Junior High School, so I hope some ALTs teaching at high schools or elementary schools could post some tips in the comments section.
A good self introduction is all about preparation. So before you begin make sure to answer these core questions with the help of your JTE:
1. How much time do I have? (Is it 5 minutes or the whole class period?)
2. What is the audience (first, second or third year students?)
3. What do I want to tell them and how do I get that across in the easiest and most interesting way possible?
A later post will cover what to do if you’re given 30 minutes to a full class period to do your self-introduction. This post will cover what to do with your 5-10 minute self-intro. After you have taken the above questions into consideration, please check out several tips:
Adjust your presentation to the skill level
This tip comes from a Japanese teacher at one of my old schools. He said that a good rule of thumb is to gradually expand your topic area according to the grade level. So:
1st graders – talk about just yourself – likes, dislikes, where you’re from and use lots of pictures for other things
2nd graders – expand it to talk about you and your family with simple vocabulary and pictures.
3rd graders – to talk about yourself, family, hobbies and your home country, always keeping in mind to use simple vocabulary and pictures
TIP: If you want, you can turn the tables on the students. You can say to them, “Now that I’ve introduced myself, I want to meet you.” Tell the students that they should go around and introduce themselves to three friends. The point of the activity is to get the students up and about, possibly introducing themselves to you, so you can keep the dialogue pretty simple. For example:
“Hello, my name is Takamasa. I like baseball. Nice to meet you.”
Tell the students that if they come to talk to you they will get a sticker. Afterward you can let students ask questions.
Have lots of pictures and materials to share
If you talk about your hobbies, draw some pictures on large posters and don’t worry how bad of a artist you are — the kids will love it. Bring in your home flag, money or postcards. The point is to have something to pass around that can make you and your country seem more real and present. The pictures can help students with vocabulary they may not quite remember or have never covered. Remember: a picture is worth 1000 words after all.
Add a small game or a small challenge to keep students Engaged.
One game that works for all levels is a 1 truth and 2 lies quiz. After introducing a little bit about yourself. Tell the students they have a “QUIZ.” Show them a picture of your cat, for instance. Tell them how old the cat is and how much you love it. Then ask the students what the cat’s name is. Write three answers on the chalk board like this (with one being the right answer, and 2 being lies):
C) Tom Cruise
and get the class to guess an answer by a show of hands. To make the game more interesting, draw a scoreboard on the chalk board and in one column write, S (for students) and in the other T (for teacher), have the teacher guess the answer and depending on if she gets it right or not, award the points accordingly. Repeat the game 2 – 3 more times, depending on time and interest level.
In this case, “Kiki” is my cat’s name so if the teacher and a “majority” of the students guessed this answer they would each get 1 point.
These are just a few ideas and suggestions. The most important tip is to just be engaging, friendly and creative. If you do that, your presentation should go swimmingly. A post about what to do for a longer self-intro will come later this week, so check back or sign up for email updates.