Ice Breaker Ideas For The First Day Of Class

September 14, 2009 at 1:15 PM | Posted in Class, ESOL, Lesson Plans, Teaching | Leave a comment

If this is the first ESOL class you’ve ever taught, I’m sure you’re nervous. Even if it’s the 30th class you’ve taught, there is always going to be an element of nervous excitement before embarking on a new semester with a group of students.

But enough about you, now imagine how your students feel! Starting a language class in a foreign country can be intimidating and scary. We’ve assembled a few tried-and-true first day activities that can appease both you and your students’ anxiety. Most of these activities emphasize getting up and moving around as well as mingling and general getting-to-know-you:

Toss The Ball

During this activity, you and your students take turns passing a ball to one another. After someone catches the ball, you practice asking each other, “What is your name?” and “Where are you from?”. The person holding the ball answers. In this way, everyone gets a chance to practice basic introductions and responses. After someone catches the ball, they can sit down so as to avoid repetition.

A variation on “Toss the Ball” has students, after catching the ball, going to a map and not only saying their name and country but pointing to their country on the map as well. This is great for putting the diversity of your students in perspective!

Find Someone Who…
In this activity, students are given a list of common descriptors: this could be countries you know your students are from, number of children, married or not married, only child, number of brothers and sisters, has a car, etc. The level of categories should reflect the level of your students’ abilities, of course. If it is a low beginning level, pictures might be helpful! The students then go around the room and get as many of their classmates’ names as they can. You can then have them present some of their findings in front of the class!

Classmate Bingo
This is a variation on the Find Someone Who activity. Instead of just having a list, turn your classmate finding activity into a game of Bingo! This gives a sense of competition to the activity which might get students’ a bit more invested in the process.

List Writing
In this activity, you can put students into pairs or groups and have them write a list of the English they already know. For a very low level couse, this could be the ABC’s or you could have them write an English word for every letter of the ABC”s. For an upper level course, you could have them write all of the fruits or vegetables they know. You can vary the topics and difficulty as much as you’d like.

This is just scratching the surface, of course. Have any great ideas of your own? Send them our way so we can share!

Asmait Tewelde, AmeriCorps instructor alumnus 2008-2009

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