BACK TO SCHOOL Ice-Breakers

Are you starting work with a new class this term? Try these 5 awesome ice-breakers

1) Name Chain Games

The best way to learn and retain student names is to do a name chain game to start off the class. You can use various specifics to fit the needs of your particular class, but my class usually goes like this: the first student says:

1) his or her name,
2) his or her home country,
3) one interesting fact about himself or herself, and
4) his or her favorite English word.

The next student must then repeat all of the information about himself or herself and then say the name and favorite English word of the previous student. The third student introduces himself or herself and then says the names and favorite English words of the previous two students, and so on until the last student. To make the activity more challenging, tell the last student not to write anything down! As the teacher, you can also go last instead and impress the class with your knowledge of their names while simultaneously making the last student feel better. Make sure you quiz your students throughout the week to see if they can remember everyone's names and favorite words. I've also made a practice vocabulary quiz using each of their favorite English words before which is a great way to transition them into your testing style.

Variation: Instead of having students say their favorite English word, have them choose a word that starts with the same letter as their name, a favorite city, favorite food, etc... the options are endless!

2) Word Association

A great speaking activity that helps to loosen up nervous students on the first day is a word association game. One student says a word (choose a category like travel if you wish to narrow things down) and the next person must say a word associated with that word; the next student says a word associated with that word, and so on. If another student challenges the association, the student must justify how those words are related. Make it a competition to see who can get the most points if you want to add a little friendly rivalry in the mix.

Variation: To make things more challenging or adapt this activity for a higher level class, put extra restrictions such as the word you say must begin with the last letter of the word the previous student said. For example, if Student A says “Japan,” Student B might say “ninja.”

3) Who Am I?

A great way to mix students up to arrange them into groups or just get them speaking to one another is to put nametags on the back of the students of famous people, teachers, movie characters etc... Make sure that these people will be well known by all of your students. Students must walk around with their nametag on their back that they cannot see and ask questions to their classmates about who they are.

Variation: If you wait a few days and do this activity on the 2nd or 3rd day of class, you can put a classmates' name on their back and their peers will have to know that classmate well enough to describe him or her to the student. This is a great way to review names!

4) New Year's Resolutions

Your students may be familiar with this popular tradition in January, but a new school year should bring about new resolutions for students and teachers alike. Have students partner up with each other and discuss what goals they have for themselves for the school year. Encourage them to be specific with the things they would like to accomplish and what they want to be different. Make sure that you as the teacher make some resolutions too!

Variation: While students are talking together, have them create a poster of their resolutions. Display the posters around the room to help students remember their goals throughout the term.

5) 3 Common, 1 Unique

This activity is good for small groups. Randomly group students into three or four and give them a time limit to discover three things that all members of the group have in common and one thing that is unique for all of them. When the time is up, have each group report to the class. Then, change up the groups and have them do it again with their new class members. If it starts to get too easy, start ruling out common answers like “We're all from different countries” or “We all breathe oxygen.”

Variation: Try this with the whole class after doing it in small groups. If they've been good listeners, they should be able to recall many things that all students had in common. It may take awhile, but there are surely at least 3 things the whole class has in common!

What are your favourite first day activities? (comment on our facebook page too!)


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Category Grammar


Trevor Hawes 02/09/2016



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