Are you running out of ideas for starting your lessons? Bored with “How are you all?” and “What did you do today?” beginnings?
Here are four exercises to break the ice and start your lessons with a bang.
Odd one out.
Give your students a minute to jot down three statements about themselves. Explain that two of these statements must be true, that one must be a lie, and that the rest of the group will try to guess which of the three is false.
To make it into a game, award two points for each lie detected and one for each listener duped. With more advanced students, introduce an interrogative element by allowing each listener to ask a question about one of the statements.
This activity can be endlessly tweaked by topic (three statements about your job or school, your neighborhood, your best friend, etc.), tense (past progressive, present perfect, simple future, etc.), grammar point (negatives, conditionals, infinitives, etc.), or by changing the odd thing out (two foods you like, one you don’t; two places you would visit if you could, one you wouldn’t, etc.).
You could spend a fortnight using variations on this activity alone and legend has it that someone actually did!
Things in common.
This versatile warm up splits the class into groupings of two or three and tasks each group to discover experiences or attitudes that the members all have in common. Four places in Japan all have been to, three plans for this summer, one movie that no one wants to see again, or any of a hundred similar.
You can readily link the thing in common to your lesson topic, which can be a useful way to gauge how well the students know the material you are going to tackle.
Who am I?
Class members are each given a card inscribed with the name of a famous person or character. One student commences dropping hints: “I’m American. I’m handsome. I’m in Pirates of the Caribbean” and so on. Whoever first identifies the name on the card correctly gets a point and another student takes the lead. Continue until everyone in the group has had a turn.
If you have time, give all the students a blank card to write down a famous person of their own, and use these to repeat the activity.
This can be quite a lively exercise. Vary it by drawing names from a hat and using a timer, by limiting the number of words permitted in a description, by using gestures only, or by switching the focus from “Who am I?” to “What am I?”.
Break the class into twos or threes and set a topic on which each student is to ask the other(s) three questions.
When the conversations have finished everyone must report back with his or her partner’s (or partners’) responses. Those who listened carefully should be able to do so; those who did not will hopefully learn to pay more attention next time!
The advantage of this very basic activity it that it is easily adjusted by topic, grammar point or by the number of questions asked.
There we are: four ice-breaker activities that a little imagination can repackage to suit almost any situation.