First Days at School for ESL Students

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 haven’t yet felt comfortable, though, to really try 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!

What can you do to make American friends? To start, read this short article. Although the article is geared towards college ESL students, the advice works for high schoolers, too, and we’ll help by giving you some more ideas that are appropriate to high school, here.

As the short article explains, American students actually tend to keep to themselves. This is even more true than ever, especially because of 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 are trying to get to know them, and you’ll likely have just started to make a new friend.

If you read the article in the link, you learned that you may need to make the first attempt at communicating with a new American student. You really just need to remember that most students are just as uncomfortable as you, when the school year has just started, and you don’t really know the other kids in your classes.

If you still don’t feel comfortable with the computer game suggestion, you could try something even simpler. Everyone likes to be complimented. So, 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 really cool book bag.” Just make sure you thank the other student, if he or she does loan you a pencil. Be sure, too, to say you’ll give it back at the end of the class.

There really are lots of simple things you can say to a new student at the start of the school year. Another example can be great to try in your homeroom class. Chances are that the class does the “Pledge of Allegiance.” There will likely be time afterwards during homeroom for you to ask an American student in the class something about what they just recited. It might be as simple as asking, “Hey, when do kids here first learn this pledge?”

The point for you to remember is that kids around your age all over the world have the same nervous feelings that you have, 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.



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