With the semester coming just around the corner, teachers all around start planning for the classes they are going to receive. This is a crucial moment, specially because with great planning we might have a chance of a less stressful routine, a more productive and effective one and even (going for the win) be a good first step towards group cohesiveness.
In this post, we are going to share 7 ideas for ice breakers. They are going to be divided into the CEFR, considering A1 as students who are zero beginners or false beginners (for lack of a better name). Hope they can help your students and feel free to share your own ideas, because sharing is caring and when we share we create a stronger community! Besides, these activities are totally adaptable, so let your imagination fly and get the best out of them. After all, we rarely (if ever) have a second chance to make a good first impression.
A1 (zero beginners)
Objective: getting to know students’ names
Time allocated: 10’
- Students mingle and say to each other their names and age.
- Model: Hi, I am Fabi, I am 37 years old
- Remind students to listen to their peers actively (set 3’, depending on the number of students you might have in class)
- After 3’, teacher gives new instructions: students mingle and say to the same peer you talked before their names and ages.
- Model: Hi, you are Rodrigo, you are 42 years old.
- Reminder: Students should be encouraged not to ask their peers again, in case they forgot names and ages
- To wrap up, students tell the teacher the names of people they have met during mingling time.
This activity might help students remember their peers’ names. As well as that, this should raise awareness to the importance of remembering their peers’ names in order to create a nice environment for learning
A1 (false beginners)
Objective: find common likes and dislikes
Materials: sentences on a board. In case there is not any board, teacher can put sentences on strips of paper and hang them on the walls
Time allocated: 10 to 15’
- Put the following sentences on the board (find someone who):
Find someone who:
- Has a dog
- Has a car
- Has a child / children
- Is married
- is single
- lives near / far from the school
- likes fruit
- goes to the gym
- likes studying English
NOTE: the categories can change according to your needs.
- Students mingle and ask questions to find peers who fit the categories in the list. Students have to find at least 7 out of 9 (5’)
- Preferably avoid repeating names. This will encourage students to talk to different people in class
- Since students have to remember these pieces of information, ask them to take notes.
- After students mingle, they sit down and report to the teacher what s/he discovered
This activity might add an extra challenge to students. Work with modelling in order to decrease their levels of anxiety
Objective: finding out likes and dislikes
Material: M&Ms, sentences written on the board
Time allocated: 15’
- Teacher has to write the categories on the board according to colors
- Each student receives 5 to 10 m&ms from different colors
- Green: something you do on the weekend
- Red: something you do that is unusual
- Brown: a food you really like
- Blue: something you want to start trying during the semester
- Yellow: something you know about a peer in classroom
- Students get one M&M from the partner and talk about the item the color indicates (set 5’)
- After the task, elicit what the students have learned from their peers
Remember to have fun while eliciting. Encourage students to react to what is reported, specially if it’s common with them. Connection Is the first step towards the construction of empathy.
Objective: aligning expectations about the English course
Materials: a deck of cards (from A to 5), sentences written on the board
- Teacher writes the following on the board
- Spades: a thing you liked about your last semester in your English course
- Hearts: a thing you wish you had done differently in your life as an English student
- Clubs: a thing you would like to learn in this semester
- Diamonds: a professional / personal plan you have for your future in terms of professional or personal needs.
- Teacher distributes 5 cards to each student
- Students mingle to the sound of music.
- When the music stops, students have to get the card from their pair and share what the figure tells you according to the categories on the board. The number in the cards will indicate the number of pieces of information students will share
- After students sit down, they share what they discovered from their peers, including something similar they have with their colleagues
Change categories for a more challenging experience, but students normally love this game and it boosts the sense of connectivity and belonging
Objective: students describe who they are using abstract concepts
- Teacher puts the following questions on the board:
- What is a song that you identify yourself with? Why?
- Share information about 3 people you admire in life
- What is a movie that you identify with? Why?
- Teacher sets pairs and who is going to move. Every time you turn the lights on and off students have to change seats clockwise
- Every time they sit with different people, they share the answers to the questions above. Set 5’ for that
- In the end, students share common or very different facts they have discovered from their peers
Comment: For extra challenge, model with students the expected production they should have concerning vocabulary use.
Objective: developing narrative about their lives and working with body language to tell something false
- Teacher models a story about his or her life including a lie
- Students try to discover what the lie is
- Teacher asks students to close their eyes and touches 3 to 5 students in class. These students have to lie
- After that, students mingle and they tell about their story. The general objective is to discover who is lying. Set 5’ to 8’ for that
- Finally, students sit down and discuss who was lying.
- After the vote taking place, students reveal themselves if they were lying or not.
Comment: to make it challenging, encourage students to use more proficient vocabulary. Your feedback could be on this, and as a second chance students can prepare a short presentation introducing themselves.
So that’s it. Let’s make this semester the best one ever! Do you have any suggestions of other ice breakers? Send it to us!