New! Routines for Starting Class Video

a pile of multi-colored stopwatches

"Routines are the backbone of daily classroom life. They facilitate teaching and learning…. Routines don’t just make your life easier, they save valuable classroom time. And what’s most important, efficient routines make it easier for students to learn and achieve more."

Learning to Teach…not just for beginners by Linda Shalaway


Routines are a lifesaver to ESL teachers and learners of all levels. A good routine provides numerous benefits to teachers and learners, including:

  • Focusing on content- When learners are familiar with the structure of a routine, they can focus on the language used, rather than on the directions and steps of the activity.
  • Creating ownership- As learners become familiar with the classroom routines, it is possible for them to take on more responsibilities around the routine. Use a morning calendar routine? Have learners ask the questions! Use a sign-in routine? Have a learner check that everyone has filled in their time accurately. Use a dictation routine? Have learners read the dictation. It may not be perfect the first, second, or third time, but as time goes on, learners will be able to run the activities with minimal support from the teacher. Added responsibility helps to improve self-esteem.
  • Managing anxiety- For learners who are new to learning or who are experiencing stress or anxiety either in or outside of the classroom, the predictability of routines create stability that makes learning easier. While many other aspects of their life may feel out of control, knowing what to expect when they walk into the classroom can make a big difference in their comfort.
  • Less classroom management- When learners know what is expected of them, they can jump right into learning. This cuts down on the amount of time that the teacher needs to spend explaining directions, as well as the amount of time that learners take to discuss and translate for one another.
  • Providing repetition- Learners of all levels need tremendous amounts of repetition to master new language. Daily routines provide the necessary repetition for even beginning level learners to master complex language.

If you are interested in seeing some examples of routines that teachers use to get the class started off on the right foot, there is a new video available at titled “Routines for Starting the Class.” You can also view it directly on the MN ABE Professional Development Youtube channel at

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