Tag Archives: icebreakers

An Engaging Combination: First-Day Introductions+Indirect Questions + Concentric Circles Technique

Last week was crazy. No lessons yet but lots of tests to be marked and tons of red tape to go through. So, I am shockingly super excited about beginning a new course; yes, excited about getting up early and teaching non-stop for six hours and   no…  I did not trip and fall  into a bucket full of cider   😉 (typical drink where I live).

First days are for introductions and little more, but  this year I think I am going to kill two birds with one stone  and combine introductions and some grammar that needs to be reviewed. So, I have got this idea in mind of asking students to introduce themselves to each other using indirect questions. I hope most of my new students will have, at some point over the years, studied  with me and for the rest, I will have to find a way to deal with the OMG- shocked looks I am sure I am going to get. But let’s cross that bridge when I come to it!

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Level: Intermediate and Above

Time Required: 30-45 minutes

Description of the Activity .This engaging activity has been designed as a  first-day oral introduction activity and to teach/help students revise how to make indirect questions . I will use the concentric circles  technique,  which is a mingle activity .The technique is explained below and I have also published a picture of my students doing the task.

STEP 1.Revision of Indirect Questions.

Indirect questions were studied last year, so we will just do a quick revision with this video I have  created using the free tool powtoon.com

If necessary, we will spend some minutes brushing up in two different ways

  1. Doing some online exercises you can find here  or , here  or if you do not have a computer, you might want to photocopy this worksheet here
  1. Orally producing some questions and asking students to provide the indirect question.

 STEP 2. Writing .

Ask students to write a question they would like to ask their classmates. For example: ” Do you speak any other languages?”, “Where do you live?” or “How long have you been studying English?”.

Give students slips of paper containing the beginning of an indirect question and ask them to make sure they know how to ask their question beginning with the phrase on their card. Cards here. (template downloaded from Teknologic). For example : “Can I ask  you where you live?” or “Would you mind telling me how long you have been studying English?”. 

STEP 3. Explaining the concentric circle technique.

This technique is a kind of mingle. Although mingles can be a bit noisy  and a bit disorganised, most students love it.The distinctive feature of a mingle activity is that all the students work simultaneously and switch from one classmate to another while speaking. Mingles allow constant repetition and this raises students’ confidence in their use of English.

Students arrange themselves so that they are facing each other in two circles. The inner circle faces out, the outer circle faces in, so that each participant has a partner that they are facing (Note: If the group has an uneven number of people, the teacher should participate in the circles). Each student from the outside circle, after speaking with the person facing him or her, moves one step clockwise to speak with a new classmate from the inside circle. I would suggest asking students to switch partners every four minutes for this activity. This concentric circle technique can very well be adapted to talk about any given topic of discussion. Encourage students to elaborate on their answers and use targeted language structure.

STEP 5. Speaking.

Students introduce themselves to the person they are facing and then ask their indirect questions making conversation with their partner. After four minutes, call time and rotate for the next question, forming a new partnership.

The conversation might go something like this:

Student A: Hi, I’m (student’s name)

Student B: Hello, my name’s  (student’s name)

Student A: Can you tell me how long you have been studying English?

Student B : (answers the question giving as many details as possible)

Student B : Can I ask you a question now? Would you mind telling me why you are studying English?

Student A: Answers

Teacher  says :”  Rotate” and students from the outside circle move one step clockwise to speak with a new classmate from the inside circle.

Model an example of a conversation with a student.

Stop the activity when they have had a chance to speak to most students.




Four Icebreakers to Get to Know your Students

that require no preparation 😉

♣The one I like best is Personal Star ,for many reasons but mainly because it requires no preparation  and students always  enjoy a bit of gossip  about their new teacher.

I draw a star on the board and inside it  6  answers to questions about me. (My answers are black , London, December 9, tennis, Terry, English , and meat.)

Tell students that the star contains information about you. Ask them to try to guess the information behind the words by asking questions.If they don’t get the idea give an example. Tell them “My favourite colour is black. What question do you need to ask to find out this information?” Elicit from them, “What’s your favourite colour?” and cross out the word ‘black’ from the star.

Then , put the students in pairs. Ask them to draw their own personal star and put 6 pieces of information about themselves inside. In pairs they can ask each other questions to find out about their partner. When they have all finished, ask them as a group to tell the others what they have found out about their partner.


♥Interviewing your partner: Tell students they are going to interview four or five people they don’t know in the class. Ask them to write three or four questions to ask these people. Once it is done, students get up and walk around the classroom

♥Find someone who. .. (bingo)

This is a good icebreaker to practise questions and to get students moving.

Ask students to draw a grid (4 squares across and 4 down) . Now, ask them to fill in the squares with prompts such as : speaks French, likes mice, plays golf…etc.

Make sure students know how to play bingo- this is quite  important , as you can guess. Students get up and walk around asking questions to everybody in the class but they have to have a different name for each grid. So if a student asks a question to a student and this student says “yes” , he should write the name of that student in the grid and move on; if the student says “no” , he can then ask this same student a new question. The first person to get a line down or across shouts “LINE” and the first person to fill in all the boxes with a name shouts  BINGO.

I would , most definitely, encourage follow-up questions  when checking,  with  the students providing the questions- of course.

♥Five Questions. Divide the class in five groups and ask each group to write a question they would like to ask you. In turns , one member of each group comes up to the board and writes the question. The students decide if the question is correct in terms of tenses, spelling …etc. Finally , the student asks the question. Before you tell them  , give the students the chance to guess your answer.

Hope you find them useful and have tons of fun with your students!