Sarah LynnSarah Lynn


With a new class, it’s fun to try a new kind of ice-breaker. Here are some activities I’ve learned from my colleagues.

Card Trading (all levels)

  1. As a class, brainstorm questions students would like to ask their classmates and write the questions on the board. For example: What’s your name? Where are you from? Did you do anything exciting this summer?
  2. Working individually, students choose one question and write it on a card.
  3. With the card in hand, students circulate around the room, asking and answering the questions. …

  4. After each conversational exchange, students TRADE CARDS and then move to a different partner and ask their new partner their new question. Students continue to trade cards and partners for five to ten minutes.

In Common
(intermediate to high-intermediate levels)

Write the following categories on the board. With the class, brainstorm common small-talk questions for each category and write them on the board. For example:

Family: Do you have family nearby?
Work: What do you do? Where do you work?
Country: Where are you from? What languages do you speak?
Interests: What do you like to do in your free time?
Sports: Do you play a sport?
  1. In pairs, students ask and answer questions until they can identify three things they have in common. Make sure students take notes.
  2. Students repeat the activity with other partners.
  3. As a wrap-up, students share with the class some things they share in common with their classmates.

Show and Tell (high-beginning up)

  1. Model the activity: Write on the board the name of a person, place, or thing that is important to you (or draw a picture). Point to the word (or drawing) and tell the class about this person, place, or thing and why it is important to you. For example: This is the name of my daughter. She is 16 years old. She is very important to me. Encourage students to ask you questions.
  2. Students write a word (or draw a picture) of a person, place or thing that is important to them.
  3. In small groups, students share their word or drawing and explain its importance. Group members ask questions.
  4. Students change groups and repeat.