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October 04, 2007

Q and A- Icebreakers

Hello Readers,

This week's question comes from Catherine in Australia:

Dear Carol,

After a few years in the writing field, I'm finally back teaching next Monday. I'm sure I'll find the whole classroom energy thing a bit tiring. I'm rusty as I always am when I go back into a classroom. Got some good ideas for icebreakers for me????

Dear Catherine,

It might take some time to get back into the swing of things, but in the meantime, here are a few suggestions...

... to get you and your students energized:

1. Truth and Lies: T. writes three statements about him/herself on the whiteboard. Two are true, one is a lie. Students then ask questions to try to figure out which one is false. Students vote. T. reveals which statement was a lie. Then, students write three statements about themselves and in small groups, try to figure out which statements are lies. Finally, students take turns introducing each other.

2. Find Someone Who: Write three questions on the board (e.g. What's your favorite food? Are you married, single, or taken? What's the craziest thing you've ever done?). Students write their own answers on a piece of paper. Then, students mingle with the other students to try to find students who have the same answers as they do.

3. Who Am I? Teacher writes a list of words or phrases that describes him/her on the whiteboard. For example, Catherine, 31, Australia, cooking, etc. Students then try to form the questions that would relate to the answers. For example: Catherine: What's your name? Once all of the questions have been correctly formed, students should then ask each a partner the same questions. Finally, students should decide which three items are the most important or interesting and then should use them to introduce their partners to the rest of the class.

4. Coursebook Scavenger Hunt: T. creates a worksheet for the students about the textbook that they'll be using. Questions might include such things as: How many units are there? Which three topics are you most interested in? Are there any topics you are not interested in? etc. Students work in small groups to complete the worksheet. If there is disagreement, they must work together to sort it out. Feedback: each group should report their findings back to the class. T. should make note of the feedback and if possible, use the information to design the syllabi.

5. Expectations: T. asks students (in small groups) to come up with a list describing a good student. What is a good student? What does a good student do? How does a good student behave? After each group has come up with a decent list, T. should ask students to report them back to the T., who will write them up on the board. Then, individuals should rank the top 10 items in order (1 being most important, 10 being 10th most important). Then, T. should put the students in pairs to decide on the top 3. If they disagree, students should be encouraged to defend their answers. Finally, in groups of 3 or 4, students should agree on the most important item. Feedback: Each group reports back. Follow-up: students decide on class rules and consequences (depending on the age and maturity of the students, this may or may not be appropriate).

6. Chinese Whispers: T. prepares a list of sentences about him/herself that he will whisper, one at a time, to a student. The student then whispers the statement to the next student who whispers it to the next student... finally, the last student will tell the class what he/she heard. T. writes the sentence on the board. Discuss: Is that what everyone heard? Where did the sentence get distorted? How can this be avoided? (eg. listen carefully, tell someone something in small chunks, etc.). After discussion, try another few sentences. Then, T. can introduce him/herself in more detail, followed by introductions by the students.

7. Non-verbal Introductions: T. divides the group into pairs. Taking turns, each member of the pair should communicate to their partner as much about themselves as they can without speaking or writing (drawing pictures is allowed). For example they might point to a wedding ring or draw a picture of their house. To make the exercise slightly easier, and to keep the group to time, the facilitator could call out the topics and when to changeover.

Finish the exercise by having everyone introduce their partner (verbally). Also allow the partner to make corrections and fill in missing details.

8. Do you like...? T. creates a worksheet with a list of statements, eg. _______ likes going to the pub on the weekends. ____________ doesn't like fast food. T. writes a sentence on the board, and asks the students how to ask the question (Do you like going to the pub on the weekends?). T. then asks a few students so that both the affirmative and the negative form of the answer are shared. (Yes, I do/No, I don't). T. then distributes the worksheets and asks the students to try to get one answer from each student. Feedback: T. asks student to answer a question about another student.

Do you have any other ice-breakers up your sleeve? If so, feel free to share your ideas in the comments section below!

Hope that helps!

Carol Rueckert
Writer, ESL Lesson Plan
E-mail: crueckert@eslemployment.com
Blog: www.esl-lesson-plan.com

"I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand." - Chinese Proverb

*To read more ESL Questions and Answers, please click HERE!

About the author of this entry:
Carol, a native English-speaker who hails from the small town of St. Joseph in Minnesota, USA, worked in China for more than 7 years. During that time, she worked with students of all ages and levels. She worked at universities, private language schools, grade schools, international schools, and did private tutoring as well. Besides teaching, she also worked as a head teacher, an education manager, and a material development manager. In addition to working on this newsletter, she also writes a monthly column for Time Out Beijing. Carol is also currently working on her MA in TESOL at Oxford Brookes University in England. Look for her posts on the ESL-Jobs-Forum discussion boards!

Posted by crueckert at October 4, 2007 06:22 AM

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