First Days, First Impressions

Posted by Megan Smith on July 30, 2017 in First Days, What's New

There’s a lot to do the first week of class, but what we choose to include in our first lessons really shows our students what we value most. I want students to walk away with an experience with the language and a positive impression of language learning…starting on day one!

The purpose of this first-day lesson example is the following:

  • get all students comfortable listening to the target language
  • show a glimpse of long term goals
  • be clear about both of OUR responsibilities in this class



Start with this on your screen when kids start coming in the room. (I’m usually by the door, greeting them in Spanish even if they won’t/can’t answer back).  After the bell rings, I say a quick Hello and welcome them to the class. Then, I grab my clipboard and start attendance. I don’t say too much outside of calling their names, but I don’t use any English either.


After attendance, I’ll show this slide (not saying a word).  If you see students not paying attention, you can clear your throat and hint toward the screen.



Introduce yourself. Give them any acceptable names to you. “In this class, you can call me Señora_____, Profe, Profesora, or Señora.”


“Today I am going to tell you about me and give you a little information about 3 things… my life, my favorite activities and my personality.”

(I intentionally pick topics/themes I know we’ll be learning during the year.)


Pick one of the 3 categories to begin. Give a main idea about each picture and give a few details to support it.

My new students were always curious about some of these things and liked hearing stories about my husband (who also taught at our school at the time) our pets, college, and where I was from.

The idea is to share naturally, and try to get an idea of how well they can follow you. Simplify if necessary, or give a little more, if you think they can handle it.

There are so many cognates… pick a few that will boost their confidence!


Again, these are things students will learn to talk about in a typical level one curriculum. So as they get to know you, they’re also getting a little preview of what they are working toward by the end of the year.

A little summary…

Students will have been listening for a bit now, and the question in English might catch them off guard. Wait for someone to break the ice.

“You said your family is important.” “You’re from Argentina.” You like to play tennis.” I would let them tell me as much as they could.

When they ran out of facts, I would grab my clipboard again. “I though this was level 1 beginner Spanish. ” They tell me… “IT IS!”

Which leads perfectly into the next question…


These answers are very important, and you have to give them time to come up with them on their own. My classes always said variations of the following:

  • some words sounded like English
  • some words looked like English
  • you had pictures to show what you were talking about
  • you used hand motions and acted things out
  • your facial expressions helped us know if something was good or bad

Tell them that is EXACTLY how they are going to follow along each day in the classroom!


Let students know that we all have a responsibility in this class if we want to be successful.

Their job:

1.) Pay attention. (they may not understand every word, but they need to watch the clues to follow along in Spanish)

2.) Show the teacher somehow if they don’t understand. (facial expressions, raise hand, etc.)

Your job:

1.) Make sure students can understand the main idea! (You’ll use expressions, gestures, pictures, or repeat/rephrase)

By the end of the year THEY will be able to share similar information, like you did in the lesson, with some details –



Want to plan your own “about me” lesson to start the year in the tl?

You can download this EDITABLE PowerPoint  for free now! It’s generic and ready for you to add you own pictures, put in your favorite activities… etc. The headings are in Spanish, but it would be easy to translate into other TLs.

We know how busy it is planning, organizing, and putting new ideas into action… Hope this resources saves you time and helps you get excited about the first day!

26 comments for “First Days, First Impressions”

  1. turpin.christina says:

    You have no idea how much your work and generosity blesses me! Thank you so much for this!!

  2. Kara Parker says:

    Welcome! Those first few days back are crazy busy. I can remember spending so much time in meetings and doing all the school required stuff, that the time in the classroom and to prep were so limited. I’d spend so much time getting all those little things done, then I’d still need to do lesson plans. SO much to do in so little time. Glad to help you out Christina!

  3. cvfletcher says:

    This is wonderful! Tha k you so much for sharing.

    1. Megan Smith says:

      Glad to share! Thanks for letting us know it will be helpful!

  4. Angelica Cadden says:

    This is so simple, but yet great to give the students an open mindset that understanding another language is not that hard.

    1. Megan Smith says:

      Exactly! I’m always surprised (and excited) when I can understand a new language when traveling… even if I may not be able to say much!
      We’ve got to get them feeling successful right from the start!

  5. Helena Curtain says:

    What a wonderful helpful post! I will share this with as many teachers as possible! You are giving us a GREAT example! Thank you!

    1. Megan Smith says:

      Thank you , Helena! You’ve inspired us in so many ways!

  6. christa g says:

    Thanks for sharing your creative ideas, as always! Great way to start the year with some comprehensible and compelling input! 🙂 I think you could also extend this–you could also ask them to write in English something they have in common with and something that is different about them. That way you can get to know a bit about your students and get a better idea of what they understood.

    1. Megan Smith says:

      Christa – Good idea! It’s really important for them to show us what they understand, especially at the beginning! Maybe even in the TL… where they can make a list under “en común” and “diferente” … choosing from a list of words from the presentation! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Haley Dunlap says:

    You have no idea how helpful this is going to be for me. I am going to be a first year teacher with only a Spanish degree and not the education side and I was just hired with school already in session. I have nothing prepared for my new journey, not to mention I have been out of college for 6 years and am rusty on the language. Thank you for this wonderful presentation. I will continue to keep up with this blog for more help!

    1. Megan Smith says:

      Hi, Haley! You might want to check out if you need resources asap! Email us at if you have any questions and we’d be glad to help you!

  8. Leticia Chavez says:

    Thank you, thank you! ¡Gracias, Gracias! Por tu creatividad y tu generosidad. Estaba precisamente pensando en cómo atraer la atención de 30 estudiantes del grado 9 quienes vienen con un mínimo de español. Mil gracias.

  9. Luz-Dary Killeen says:

    Muchas gracias por esta ayuda tan inmensa. You rock!

  10. Andrea says:

    Thank you so much for all that you all share. I used the PowerPoint today and it was a big hit! I will use it with my parents next week at Open House!

    1. Megan Smith says:

      So glad! Thanks for letting us know!

  11. LISA says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I can’t wait to use it in my classroom!

  12. Monique says:

    Thank you very much! Merci beaucoup! I was wondering how I could start this year in a different way involving the language. Thank you so much for your generosity. I love this presentation.

  13. expressgrrrl says:

    Thanks so much for the free resource! It’s excellent and such a help!

    1. Megan Smith says:

      Glad it’s a help! Have a great first day!

  14. Hi Megan, Great post and interesting title too.
    Thanks for sharing.

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