First Days of School Journal Topics and Warm Ups

This lesson is good for the first day of school, but there are many quotes and journal topics that could be used throughout the year.

The first day of class creates the atmosphere for the entire semester. Here is a first day lesson plan that allows students to express themselves, learn about a classmate, and exposes students to a few classic figures.

“Accept me as I am – only then will we discover each other.”
Federico Fellini (1920-1993), Italian director/screenwriter

Telling Your Story: Please interview the person sitting next to you. Feel free to add or skip any questions that you want. Take turns talking, jot down some notes, and prepare to introduce your partner to our class.

  1. What’s your full name? How do you spell that?
  2. Who chose your name? Why?
  3. Where were you born? Were you the first child? Second? Fifth?
  4. Do you have any older brothers? Sisters? Younger siblings?
  5. Where did you grow up? Is that a city, village, or suburb?
  6. How would you describe yourself as a child? Why?
  7. Can you share some of first impressions of our city/town/suburb?
  8. Do you have a favorite color? Number? Season? Why?
  9. What kind of music do you listen to? Do you have a favorite singer? Group?
  10. What’s your favorite radio station or television channel? Why?
  11. Can you recommend any movies to rent or see? Why do you like those films?
  12. What do you like to do outside? Why?
  13. Where do you walk, hike, jog, or bike on the weekends?
  14. What’s your favorite sport? Why?
  15. How do you like to spend your free time? What interests you?
  16. Do you have a hobby? How long have you enjoyed it?
  17. How long have you studied English? Where?
  18. Where do you usually speak English? Who do you usually talk with?
  19. What’s your best language? Where do you usually speak it? Why?
  20. What makes you smile? Where do you feel most comfortable?
  21. What are some things that might cause you to frown?
  22. How do you express enthusiasm in a word or sound in your native language?
  23. Do you have a favorite English word or expression? Why?
  24. What are your goals for this year? Why? What’s your plan?
  25. How would your friends describe you? What would you add?
  26. What are three things that you appreciate about living in _________?

Vocabulary: Please circle the words that you know. Ask your partner or teacher for the meanings of the other words.


Proverbs: Read the proverbs below. Can you add another saying?

  1. Strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet. – American proverb.
  2. Beauty is a good letter of recommendation. – German proverb
  3. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. – American proverb.
  4. You’re never too old to learn. – Latin proverb
  5. A single conversation across the table with a wise person
    is worth a month’s study of books. – Chinese proverb

Sharing Views: Which quotation is your favorite? Why?

  1. “I never met a man I didn’t like.”
    Will Rogers (1879-1935), American humorist
  2. “I am free of all prejudices. I hate every one equally.”
    W. C. Fields (1880-1946), comedian
  3. “There is no such thing as a worthless conversation, provided you know what to listen for. And questions are the breath of life for a conversation.”
    James Nathan Miller, contemporary journalist
  4. “Conversation is an art in which a man has all mankind for his competitors, for it is that which all are practicing every day while they live.”
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), American essayist/philosopher
  5. “The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man’s observation, not overturning it.”
    Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873), British novelist/politician
  6. “Everything becomes a little different as soon as it spoken out loud.”
    Hermann Hesse (1877-1962), novelist