The No English first days of school

A guide for Elementary Spanish immersion teachers when planning lessons for the first few days of school.

Lesson plans with worksheets included!

The perplexing first days of class.Sra. Seco

  • In the past I’ve spent so much time planning my first few lessons of the year. In the end I find out that they really are some of the easiest days I have all year.

  • Here’s what I discovered.
    • Students are always well behaved the first days, so discipline is not a problem.
    • A little planning goes a long way. Everything’s in slow motion.
    • Objectives are simple for these days. There is no need to complicate matters.


What do you need to do?

  • Stay in your target language.
  • Introduce yourself and get familiar with your students.
  • Introduce the immersion class setting.
  • Introduce your language and culture.
  • Teach them something. Be sure students walk away able to say something in the target language.
  • Get them excited about your class.


What you do NOT need to do?

  • Use English or your native language.
  • Introduce your classroom discipline plan.
  • Explain what your methodology is, why you do it, or how it works. (Save these discussions for the parents)


Let’s get specific!  (Day 1)

  • Start class by giving out assigned seats. I usually just make a chart randomly but patterned boy girl boy girl etc.

    • This can take some time especially with Kindergarten
    • You may choose to have everyone grouped in the front of the classroom quietly and then seat them one by one from there.
    • After everyone is seated count how many boys there are in class and how many girls. Introduce the words “boys/ niños” and “girls/ niñas”.
    • Many already know how to count so this makes them feel successful.
    • Teach students the appropriate greeting for class and how to respond to it. Put on your acting shoes!  You’ll need them!
    • “Buenos días clase / Buenos días Sra. ….”
    • “Buenas tardes clase / Bunas tardes Sra. …….”
  • Explain that they are the students and you are the teacher. Introduce your name and have them repeat everything.


“Never use any English (or native language) on the first two days of class at least!  You must establish that you mean business and this is Spanish class.”

Read a story. (Day 1 cont.)

  • Read a story about the first days of school. There are many options but I like Margaret and Margaritamargaret-and-margarita
    • This story uses English, which goes against my advice. But I find that when English is read it doesn’t have the same negative effect as using English to teach.
    • After the story, ask some basic questions,

  • Goodbyes


Ask questions with simplified language.

Pointing to the pictures in the book.  Ask:

  • ¿Quién es Margaret? ¿Quién es Margarita?
  • ¿Cuál es el conejo? ¿Cuál es el gato?
  • ¿Es este el gato? ¿Es este el conejo?
  • ¿Cuál es amarillo? ¿Cuál es violeta? ¿Es el conejo amarillo o es el conejo violeta?  ¿Es el gato amarillo o es el gato violeta?
  • ¿Quién habla español? ¿Quién habla inglés? ¿Habla Margarita español or inglés?  ¿Habla Magaret español o inglés?

Margaret and Margarita worksheet


You can make up more but I think you get the idea.  You’ll be amazed by their answers, even with students who have never had Spanish before.  They will and can answer you based on the context that you are giving them.


Let’s get specific! (Day 2)

  • Greet students and elicit an appropriate response. The same as in day 1.
  • Warm-up: Review the book Margaret and Margarita.  Focus on the character’s names and if they speak Spanish or English. Once established, ask the students what their names are and if they speak Spanish or English.  You don’t need complete sentences yet.  You are just getting the idea across.
  • Introduce the Spanish flag and the U.S. Flag. Relate each flag with the language spoken in each of the countries.  Relate this back to Margaret and Margarita as well as to your students.
  • Introduce an activity where students color a U.S. Flag and a Spanish flag and write the name of each country. It’s a good idea to show where they are on the map as well.
  • Goodbyes.


Let’s get specific!  (Day 3)

  • Greet the class the same as day 1 and day 2.
  • Warm-up the class by reviewing the flags of Spain and U.S., which countries they represent, and which language they speak in these countries. Relate this to the students.
  • Get specific with ¿Cómo te llamas? Write the question on the board along with the answer.  Write slowly, exceptionally neat and sound out the words underling syllables as you go.
  • Ask students ¿Cómo te llamas? Require them to answer with a complete sentence.  Me llamo…  Don’t be too fussy, the idea is to get them comfortable and confidant.
  • Introduce the self-portrait activity for students to complete and color. You may choose to use Pablo Picasso as an example or one that you make yourself.
  • Goodbyes.


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