Page 1 of 1

Good Icebreaker for first class?

Posted: Fri Jun 24, 2011 11:49 am
by Kelism
Hi all,

From the start of July I'll be teaching a class of about 15 French kids from the ages of 11-17 at Elementary level. I was wondering if anybody could suggest a good icebreaker activity to start off the introductions so we can get to know each other?


Posted: Fri Jun 24, 2011 12:36 pm
by Sally Olsen
A treasure hunt? It could be for actual things in the classroom or nearby if they are allowed to go out of the room or it could be a paper one with questions to get to know people better, like "Find someone who has been to see Justin Beiber sing." or "Find someone who likes red Corvettes." or "Find someone who has seen Green Lantern". I usually put the students in pairs so they ask their partner to see if they can fill in one question first and then go around the room to try and fill in the rest of the questions negotiating the meaning of the questions with their partners. One person can only answer one question and they fill in that person's name for that question. You can get the sheets back at the end of the class to find out what people are interested in. You can ask things that are important for you to know like, "Find someone who has studied English for more than one year?" You will pick up on people's ability by listening in to conversations as they move around the room. I usually have a prize for people who finish their questionnaire - a dollar store Thesaurus or Dictionary in English - or something funny or good tasting and more than one team can win if you do it by a time limit. The winning teams can help the other teams fill out their questionnaire within the time limit. I state the time limit but stretch it until more than half the class have finished. They can only ask questions in English but can negotiate the meaning with their partners in French. In your case you can have 16 questions because they can ask you.

It helps them to get to know each other's names. It gets them speaking in English and can be fun if you get the right questions because then you can talk about Green Lantern and so on when you get back the questionnaires and say, "Michelle saw the Green Lantern (Michelle will blush so you will know who she is). Did anyone else? What did you think about it?" and so on.

Posted: Fri Jun 24, 2011 2:13 pm
by Kelism
Hi, thank you for your reply :) Those are good ideas and I'd like to do the 'Find someone who' one. I just have a little concern though: as I don't know how many of the questions they will understand, I'm a little worried the game will fall flat fast! How would you handle that situation?

Posted: Fri Jun 24, 2011 4:48 pm
by Sally Olsen
Do you mean by Elementary - beginners? Do you speak French? You can translate some questions or you can pose them as questions instead of "Find someone who ...." You could write "Have you seen Green Lantern? and teach them to answer, "Yes, I have. My name is Michelle". and they write down "Michelle". You can demonstrate some questions or give them one or two answers by showing them what to do before they go off in pairs. You could just have pictures of things like the Green Lantern poster, a list of colours to choose their favourite colour, their favourite book, their favourite car, their favourite TV show, sports, their favourite singer or band. You can get these off the Internet and put the words underneath so they have a double clue. I bet some of them will be able to figure it out though and that is why you have pairs and keep an eye out for those who are good. When the good ones are finished steer the good ones to help a pair that only have a few answers and let them speak in French to explain and share their answers, pointing out who the person is who likes blue, etc.

Then use those good ones to be your leaders in small groups of three or four when you do other activities. They are your assistant teachers and will make your job much easier. They will learn because they are teaching and the others will learn because they are learning from someone near their age and ability.

Posted: Fri Jun 24, 2011 4:54 pm
by Sally Olsen
On second thought you could arrange the topics with three or four choices and ask, "Do you like Justin Beiber, Lady Gaga or Hannah Montanna?" and have their pictures too. It is easy to teach, "Do you like..."

Posted: Sun Jun 26, 2011 7:31 pm
by Kelism
Thank you Sally for your suggestions. I dont know any French really, but there will be a translater there I think to help out. I like the idea of using contemporary popular culture like movies and characters that kids like to get them interested! Thanks :)

Posted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 1:00 pm
by Sally Olsen
Good opportunity for you to learn French. They will love to teach you and have to speak English to translate for you. It is amazing what even beginners know as a group. If one person can't remember an English word, someone else will be able to. If you have a translator you are set. While they are teaching you French, they will be learning English. Ideal.

Posted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 1:08 pm
by Sally Olsen
I remember another similar activity. The presenter had posters in four corners of the room. First was four colours and we had to go the colour we liked. Then it was sports, cars, singers and so on. We often ended up with the same people and those people became our friends because we had so much in common.

Posted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 5:33 pm
by Carrierabbit
I usually guide students (also at elementary level) play such as information gap activity similar to the previous posts proposed by Sally Olsan to prompt students to get to know each other. At the beginning of the first class, I will announce that each student has to ask for information about their neighbors as much as possible. After that, they have to introduce the one next to him/her (the one can be on the right side or left side, but students don’t know before they start the game.) Also, you can provide reward or a little punishment (just for fun) to stimulate students to converse with their new classmates. After students has done their asking, you can start to let students introduce their neighbors and give feedback to them. Hope you have fun in your teaching!


Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 1:49 am
by lip420
You can watch some how-to videos and learn ESL icebreakers here.

Posted: Thu May 24, 2012 1:48 am
I really enjoyed reading the various ideas for ice breakers in the first days of class. The ideas will encourage students to use English while getting to know each other. I have noticed that my students who are from China and Korea are accustomed to and most comfortable with a lecture format. I hope to use some of these ideas to help them to begin to interact during class right from the beginning. Also, I think as students feel connections to each other (as with the four corners game), their affective filter may more readily loosen and recede.
Another game I've used is called "Never have I ever..." In this game, each player holds up four fingers. Each person takes turns finishing the "Never" statement with a a personal fact. The players who have done the "never" before put down one finger. Play continues until one person is left with one finger. It's a lot of fun, it uses language, and it helps students to relax and get to know each other.

Posted: Thu May 24, 2012 11:59 am
by Sally Olsen
I just remembered that I used to have a contest between classes to see how many words of one category that the whole class could remember. I would start off with names of singers and bands. One or two students would always challenge me, especially in the high school years, to say that they didn't need English in Greenland, Mongolia, Japan. Of course, they told me this in English which I always found funny. I would then ask them what singers and bands they liked and list them on the board - found out there was a band called "Chicken on a Stick". I would write each name of the board and we would add them up when no one could think of any more. I would write the number on a poster and then take the poster to another class and challenge them to top it. We could alphabetize them or vote on them and see who was their favourite - the students could vote for as many as they liked, would put up their hands and I would count out loud - good for numbers. We did this for movies, super heros, colours, transportation, hair styles, tattoos, names of animals and so on. It just takes a few minutes at the beginning of class and you can fill the board with English words and say, "I see you know some English, let's learn some more."

Posted: Sun May 27, 2012 5:09 pm
Sounds like yet another fun way to get students talking and realizing that English is useful in their lives! I appreciate the input and look forward to trying it out in the classroom. :)