Posted on September 9, 2019 | By Isabelle Sudron
27th Nov 2018
Beginning to teach a new class can sometimes feel a little awkward. You might not know anything about any of your students and they might not know each other either. But fear not, we’ve got a few tips to banish the boredom and to stop the awkward silence!
A great way to break the ice in a new class is by using games that get everyone to chat and find out more about each other. We’ve come up with a few activities that can be used in your very first classes with students of various levels.
#1 Lines and circles
This activity prompts your students to speak to as many other students as possible and it gets everyone on their feet. The aim of the game is for students to arrange themselves into a circle or a line depending on the instructions you give. For example, you could ask your students to organise themselves into circles of people who have the same birth month or favourite colour. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:
#2 Two truths and a lie
This activity works best with relatively small, high level classes where everyone can get involved in a discussion. Everyone in the class needs to write down two true things and one lie about themselves. Ask one student to read out their three statements and allow the other students to ask them a few questions about these things. After a few questions have been asked, tell your students to guess which statement is a lie and then ask the speaker to reveal the truth. Repeat this with the rest of your students.
Tip: If your students seem reluctant to share their statements, try starting things off by reading your own two truths and a lie out first.
#3 Quick Count
If your students have a very basic level of English, it may be worth playing a simple warm up game to get everyone working together. Ask your students to stand or sit in a circle and tell them that the aim of the game is to count to 10 as a group. Sounds simple, right? The catch is that only one person can say each number at a time and that you can’t plan who will say what. If two (or more) people say a number at the same time, you need to start again. For example, you could start by saying ‘one’, another student may shout out ‘two’ but then two students may say ‘three’ at the same time. If this happens, you will all need to start again! This is a fun way to get everyone working together without making beginners uncomfortable about their level of English.
#4 Yes or No
This activity requires less personal interaction between the students but still helps them find out lots about each other. Simply assign one wall of your classroom ‘yes’ and the opposite wall ‘no’. Then, ask your students yes or no questions and ask them to move to the relevant wall. For example, you can ask if your students if they like a certain type of food, if they speak any other languages, or if like a particular TV show. Here’s some ideas to get you started:
Tip: To make this game a bit more complicated, you can also ask ‘would you rather’ questions, such as “would you rather have four legs or three ears?” and assign a wall to each answer. Or you can use four wall for four different answers!
#5 Swap seats if…
This game is good fun and allows students to find out more about each other without having to jump straight into conversations. Start by putting all the chairs in a circle and stand in the middle yourself. Ask students to swap seats if they have something in common. For example, “swap seats if you’re wearing something blue.” Everyone who is wearing something blue should stand up and move into another seat. You should also sit down in a seat which should leave one of your students standing in the middle of the circle without a chair. Ask the student in the middle to come up with another “swap seats if…” statement and repeat the process.
#6 Alphabet Memory Game
Much like Quick Count, the Alphabet Memory game is a fun game that can be played with students with a low level of English. Sitting in a circle or rows, ask your first student to come up with a word that begins with ‘A’, e.g. apple. The next student should repeat that word and then say a word that begins with ‘B’, e.g. apple, bear. The third student should do the same and add a word beginning with ‘C’, e.g. apple, bear, Christmas. If someone cannot remember a word, they are out. The game continues around the class until you get to the end of the alphabet.
Tip: Make the game harder by coming up with a specific topic that the words must be about, such as animals or food.
We hope some of these activities help you break the ice at the beginning of term. If you enjoyed this blog, you may also find 5 popular activities for young learners useful.