Four top ice breakers for a TEFL classroom

English teaching ideas to get your lesson off to a flying start!

Ice-breakers are fantastic ways to start the day running and great methods of learning about your students and getting them to interact with each other. Sharing lesson plans and tips is a great way to support your fellow teachers. Here are our selection of some great ice breakers for the classroom, as submitted by working TEFL teachers.

Learn all about teaching English as a Foreign Language with these commonly asked questions.

The truth game

This game is flexible with all ages and levels of English.

Begin by drawing four boxes on your whiteboard. In three of the boxes write the word ‘true’ and in the fourth write ‘false’ (pre-teach this vocab for beginners). Hand out a piece of paper to each student and ask them to fold it into four and write the same headings in each of their four boxes. Explain to the class that they should write three true facts about themselves and one false ‘fact’.

They shouldn’t show anyone else and when they are done they will read out their facts and everyone will vote to guess which one is the false fact. This is a very simple game but can be a great way to get to know something about your students and can be very fun depending on how creative the facts are.

The artist game

This is similar to the last game and can be played consecutively if the students use the back of their folded paper. Use the board to create four boxes  again and in each box write the separate headings: ‘person’, ‘hobby’, ‘place’ and ‘item’.

Explain to the class that they are to draw a picture (stress that it doesn’t need to be detailed) in each  box. The ‘person’ box will be of a person who is special to them. The ‘hobby’ box will be of a favourite hobby of theirs. ‘place’ will be a special place (e.g. holiday destination) and ‘item’   will be an object they own which is special for them. Give them a short time limit to perform the task and then collect all the drawings at the end. Get the students to guess who the pictures belong to by presenting them to the class and perform a short Q&A session about particular drawings.

Learn all about teaching English as a Foreign Language with these commonly asked questions.

The alphaball game

This game is more physical and will require a tennis ball or something similar. Begin the game by making the class stand in a circle, state an English word beginning with ‘a’ and pass the ball to the next student who will have to state a word beginning with ‘b’. This student will pass the ball on to another student who will state a word beginning with ‘c’ and so on and so on.

Once the students have grasped this you can mix things around for example; choosing to pass the ball to random  students to create more spontaneity, using categories such as ‘animals’, ‘food’ ect. There are so many possibilities with this simple game but make sure to keep it fast-paced and exciting.

Tongue twisters

Tongue twisters may seem a little drab but you will be surprised how much they can energise your classroom if utilised in the right way. Begin by writing a simple tongue twister on the board (i.e. She sells sea shells on the sea shore). Tell your students to all stand up and make them attempt the tongue twister and only when they have mastered it can they return to their seat. Infuse a sense of urgency by telling them to repeat it faster and faster and in different tones of voice. This will get your class all riled up but in a positive way to bring some life into the classroom.

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