Tag Archives: icebreakers

First Day : getting to know my students

I’ve been teaching for a long, loooong time and one might expect I don’t have to suffer from first-class stress . But I’ve come to terms with myself and admitted  that no matter how long I’ve been in the business, it is always going  to feel like  having a bull ( past the butterfly feeling) in my stomach. So again, I’m hunting books ,posts, and the Internet for ideas to use on the first day  to get to know my students and to give them the first chance to use the language. These are the ones I’m considering  – in case you want to use them.

By the way, these are the ones I used last year if you want to have a look https://www.cristinacabal.com/?p=2694

♥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.

♥Get to Know you Bingo: this one requires a bit of preparation but it’s not like you are already loaded with exams, is it? Let’s play bingo, then! Now, the first thing you need to do is prepare a bingo sheet with some questions ( a grid of  4×4 , for example). 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 , of course, encourage follow-up questions  when checking,  with  the students providing the questions- of course.

♥Who Am I..? I love this game to introduce myself to my students. It is played in teams and there is a winner. If you have been reading me for some time you know I am very competitive; that must be the reason why I am definitely going to use this one this year. The game was written by Paul Adams  and here is the link

♥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.

♥Writing SampleI’m thinking it might be a good idea to use this warm-up after doing some oral practice. The idea is to ask students  to write a bit about themselves  to  get an idea of how advanced they are. Some ideas might be : Why are you learning English and why are you taking this course? or What’s your favourite hobby ?

Hope you can use some of these ideas!!!

Warmers , Fillers and Coolers

Welcome back to my blog! How quickly time flies! Tomorrow I’ll be heading back  to the classroom and I’m sure you will be too.

On the first day, it is not always easy to get started. I’m never in the mood to start teaching straight away as some students have not bought their textbooks yet, you have some information to give, some forms to be filled ..etc, so I usually end up having less than half an hour to  get  them  into the right mood for learning. That’s why I am considering using some of these activities  from Online ESL Activities to help my students get rid of the dust accumulated during the summer holidays  and give their English some brushing up.

For elementary students:

This is a very popular Korean game. Students take turns to say numbers in order. The first student says, “1”, the second student says “2”, etc. Every time the digits 3, 6, or 9 appear, the student must clap once for each digit, not say the number.
So with the number “3”, the student must clap , not say “three!”. With the number “30”, the students must also clap once, and with the number “39” students must clap twice, because there are two instances of the digits 3, 6, and 9.
If a student says a wrong number, claps at the wrong time, or says a number instead of clapping, they are out. Last person in the game wins.

As a variation, you can also include other rules for different numbers. For example, with multiples of 5, eg. 5, 10, 15, 20, etc. students must shout “A-Ja!”.

Alphabet Tic-Tac-Toe
Draw a 3×3 grid on the board. In each square of the grid, write a letter. Put the students into 2-4 teams. Each team selects a square, and must think of ten words beginning with the letter in the sqaure. Give them a time limit, for example 1 minute. If they get 10 correct words, that team gets the square. The first with 3 in a row wins the game. With more teams use a 4×4 grid, teams have to get 3 or 4-in-a-row. Good for younger learners.

For intermediate classes:

Family Fortunes
Based on a popular British TV show. Put the students into two teams. The teacher should then think of a topic, and secretly write down 5 words connected with that topic. Teams take turns to guess the five words the teacher thought of.

For example, give the students the topic “Things you make spaghetti with”. Then jot down 5 connected words, eg. pasta, tomato, sauce, meat, herbs. The students in the first team take turns to guess the 5 words. If they guess them all correctly, they win. Otherwise the next team gets a chance. If both teams can’ t guess all 5 items, the team with the most correct guesses wins

Split the class into teams. One student from each team comes to the front and faces away from the board. The teacher writes a word on the board. The teams must give definitions to the team member at the front of the class. The first student to guess the word wins a point for their team.
As a variation, students can also be given three words which they cannot use in their definitions. For example, to define the word “rabbit”, you could disallow the words “ears”, “jump” and “carrot”.

Write a few categories on the board, eg. clothing, food, country, etc. Put the students into teams. The teacher gives a letter to a team and the students have to think of a word (or several words) starting with the given letter for each category. For example, imagine a class is using the example categories above and the letter “s”. Correct answers would include “shirt”, “salad”, and “Spain”. If a team gives a word for each category in under a minute, they get a point. The team with the most points wins


Spelling Bee
A student must start by saying a letter, eg. “d”. The next student must say another letter, eg. “a”. This student should know a word that starts with “da”. The next student says another letter, eg. “t”, and this student must know of a word that starts with “dat”. The next student says another letter, and so on.
Students may add letters even if they can’t think of a word, but this is dangerous. Every student, on their turn, can challenge the previous student about their spelling. If the previous student knows a word that uses all the letters given, the challenging student is out. If the previous student does not know a word, then the challenged student is out. Game continues until there is just one student left.