First Days at School for ESL Students | EDUBOSTON

First Days at School for ESL Students

Thursday, Aug 01, 2019


Start Your American School Year Off By Making A New Native English Speaking Friend!

So, you have finally made it to the United States! Congratulations! You might not feel comfortable yet trying to talk with any of the American students in your new classes. Yes, in some of your classes the teachers had students pair up with other students and introduce each other, but you were feeling really awkward about it. Well, you should know that you’re not alone in these feelings!

It’s important to know that American students actually tend to keep to themselves. This is even truer than ever due to cell phones and computer games. Well, guess what? If you also happen to play games on your IPad or cell phone, this already gives you something in common with most of your native English-speaking classmates. So, here’s an idea: Go ahead and approach another student who is playing a computer game. Maybe just start by looking at how the game is going, and then you might say, “Cool!” or “Wow!” If the other student doesn’t say anything, you can say something like, “That’s like a game we play a lot in China!” Most kids will be really pleased that you have something in common, and you’ll likely have just started to make a new friend.

Another important tip for making new American friends is that you may need to make the first attempt at communicating with other students. You really just need to remember that 1) most students are just as uncomfortable as you are when the school year has just started and 2) you don’t really know the other kids in your classes, so the possibilities of making new friends are in your favor. 

If you still don’t feel comfortable with the computer game suggestion, you could try something even simpler. Here is another key tip: everyone likes to be complimented. Outfits or hairstyles are great starting points. In order to work your way up to the compliment, you could ask another student if she or he has an extra pencil you can borrow for that class. Whether the student does or doesn’t have a pencil for you to use, you can then say something like, “That’s a cool shirt!” or “I love your outfit!” **This is not applicable if students wear a uniform.** A natural follow up question would be, “Where did you get it?” This can help you find out more about where American students shop and maybe even learn about some great shopping deals along the way. To finish up the conversation, make sure you thank the other student if he or she does loan you a pencil. Be sure to also say you’ll give it back at the end of the class and remember to actually return it when you are done. 

There really are lots of simple things you can say to a new student at the start of the school year. Homeroom or lunchtime are great times to engage with other students and find out more about your school. For example, you can always ask another student about class locations or things to do for fun in the area. A good starting point would be “Hi! I am new here and I am not sure where _____ is located. Can you help me?” or “Hi! I am new here and I wanted to know what students do for fun in the area. Do you have any ideas?” The same introduction can be used to ask about TV show recommendations, restaurants, student clubs, and other interests!

The point for you to remember is that kids around your age all over the world feel nervous when it’s a new school year and there are many other kids around who you don’t know. So, take a deep breath, relax and don’t be afraid to make the first move to start a conversation with a new student.

Good luck and have a great first day!