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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Apr 17th, 2009, 06:57 am
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Default An Ice Breaker Every Day?

Hey, guys. . .

I've run up against a problem. I teach a group of adults at eight in the morning and they're pretty tired. I can understand that. In a regular counseling session ("What can I do better?"), they've said that they like it when the lessons begins with a 'game' or 'silly activity.'

And, of course, I've been trying to find new things to do each day. I can repeat a few classics, but, well. . . I'm running out of ideas. They aren't big on heave grammar right away, just a game to get them back into thinking in English. (If I ask them how the week was, they say 'Too much work. . .' They're game to laugh, but small talk isn't their strength.)

What kind of activities do you use in the classroom?
-Toby
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Apr 23rd, 2009, 06:47 pm
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Default Re: An Ice Breaker Every Day?

Hi there,

You could try two truths and a lie. Have students write down two truths about themselves and a lie. Once they have done so, have each student stand up, go to the front of the classroom, and read off their 3 statements. Finally, have the other students guess which ones are false and which ones are true. Option - you could then discuss the truth about the person in class for a few minutes.

This game works well when looking for an ice-breaker as it almost always changes, in other words, the outcome isn't always the same every time you play the game.

I hope this helps!!!!
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  #3 (permalink)  
Unread Apr 29th, 2009, 12:55 pm
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Default Re: An Ice Breaker Every Day?

Hello Toby!
God knows how many times I've run into this problem before. There are MANY different activities and games one can play for warm-up. What Ralph suggested was perfect! Another SIMPLE game is, say, writing the worlds longest word on the board and asking the students what they think it might mean. You could also write a few tongue twisters down and have the students read them. Adults in groups LOVE the latter.
What I've found works best is having an open discussion about the latest stories in the news. I usually bring in that mornings news, or the one from yesterday which gives me more prep. time, copy a small article for the students, then have them read it. It gives the students a chance to wake up, learn new words, and adults ALWAYS want to know the latest news. The love to have the chance to speak with a native about it.
Good luck!
Melissa
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Unread May 4th, 2009, 01:55 am
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Default Re: An Ice Breaker Every Day?

These were two great suggestions and I'm going to be trying them this week. I wanted to add another that I've found: I've been adapting other games I know (meaning, mainly, drinking games) and one that DIDN'T work was requiring students to answer questions with a question: "What time is it?" "Do you have a watch?" "Where did I put it?" "Where did you have it last?" . . . The idea is that you have to do it in a circle and the first person who answers with a statement 'loses.' (It's from the drinking game 'Kings,' you might recognize it.)

My students aren't great at forming questions, and the 'game' didn't go over well. (It became 'practice,' which we all know isn't fun. Also, I think it required too much thinking on their feet for early in the morning.)

A game that DID work was 'categories.' Basically, one student names a category and the others have to name things in the category without using a dictionary. It's simple, makes them review things they know, and they're allowed to help each other if they do it in English.

Also, I've been able to use the categories game to transition to 'class time:' I'll name the last category ('Things you can do somewhere hot') and that gets them talking about the subject of the day's lesson.

Any more ideas?
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Unread May 15th, 2009, 02:55 am
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Default Re: An Ice Breaker Every Day?

One idea that works with my students is the Last Letter Game. I'm sure just about everyone has used this, but on the off chance that you haven't, I thought I would suggest it. You start by naming a word. Student 1 has to think of a word that begins with the last letter of the word you said. They have a five second time limit. Once they've named the new word, the next student takes the last letter of Student 1's word and suggests his own word...So on and so forth. The game usually goes very fast, and it can get some laughs if someone throws out a really unusual word they know. It's great for review and as a listening exercise.
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Unread May 15th, 2009, 03:17 am
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Default Re: An Ice Breaker Every Day?

Do you know what? I knew that game but I never thought to use it with the group I was talking about. That's a great idea. Thanks.
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Unread May 16th, 2009, 05:43 am
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Default Re: An Ice Breaker Every Day?

Hi there,

And why not continue to make the lesson buzz all the way through... I mean why limit yourself to just an icebreaker?

Check out my free game samples for adults and teens here:

ESL Games and Activities for adults

You'll have lots of ideas for ice breakers but also more substantial activities to help with genuine speaking practise as opposed to rather artificial simulations which can often arise in the language classroom.

I wanted to add to Melissa's comment about using the news - absolutely great idea, but with one proviso to watch out for serious problems if you have a multicultural class, such as a class of ESL immigrants - there can be v. poignant issues in the news and someone could dissolve into tears on you...

Then re the drinking game idea fro ST Crowley- I love that game and I think it would work for advanced students because it makes even a native speaker have to think hard, and the native speaker has all the question forms and vocab at his or her finger tips.

Enjoy!
Shelley
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  #8 (permalink)  
Unread Jan 18th, 2011, 05:34 pm
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Default Re: An Ice Breaker Every Day?

Here's one. Get a photo of a famous person that everyone will probably know (Princess Di, Fidel Castro, Obama, Pele (soccer player) etc..) the students can only ask yes or no questions. The person that they guess also needs to be in the form of a yes/no question, ie. Is it Princess Di? Beginners can do this and it is good practice for them to ask y/n questions. You could also get 2 pictures, have 2 teams and have each team ask the other team questions. Sometimes I write the questions on the board as they are being asked to keep track, not always....

Students get a little competitive sometimes but fun.
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Unread Jan 19th, 2011, 09:01 am
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Default Re: An Ice Breaker Every Day?

With upper intermediate or advanced students I often use short comedy sketch scripts. You can find a lot of Monty Python transcripts by searching with Google. Also funny and quirky are the Acorn Antique scripts by Victoria Wood. Of course the students' level has to be high enough to understand the jokes but it's a good way to get people involved quickly.
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Unread Feb 19th, 2011, 04:50 pm
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Default Re: An Ice Breaker Every Day?

Good suggestions! I teach mainly young learners, so it's good to get some ideas on the older ones too.
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Unread Feb 23rd, 2011, 06:24 am
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Default Re: An Ice Breaker Every Day?

I have 2 really simple warm-up activities that work well with older students and get a lot of laughs.

- Reciting the letters of the alphabet one after each other... if they get to Z they have to continue in reverse.

- Counting in 6s, 8s, etc one after each other. Gets the brain working and I especially like this one because it shakes things up so that it isn't necessarily the student who is strongest at English who wins, so it gives the others a confidence boost straight off.

For both of these I allow 5 seconds to answer, using my fingers as a visual timer. They have never failed yet and always get laughs.
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Unread Feb 26th, 2011, 10:03 pm
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Default Re: An Ice Breaker Every Day?

Using ice breakers after slower periods of the lesson (like reading) is also good to get the students talking again i think.
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Unread Mar 10th, 2011, 06:42 am
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Default Re: An Ice Breaker Every Day?

I like to start off with a quick game or another warm-up activity too. I've found that on busier days a joke, pun, or riddle can be enough to get the class ready to work. If the joke is pertinent to the lesson the students have even more fun.

For example, when I teach 'can' and 'may' I always use this joke:

Student: "Teacher, can I use the bathroom?"
Teacher: "I don't know. Can you?"

'Alphabet Popcorn' is another favorite for beginners or pre-intermediate learners. We throw a stuffed animal or soft ball around and the person who catches it must say a word that begins with a certain letter. Then they throw it to another student who says a word that begins with the next letter ( example: Student 1 says a word that begins with A, Student B says a word that begins with B, so on and so forth). The element of surprise keeps the students on their toes. You wouldn't believe how nervous they get when we arrive at Q or X!
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  #14 (permalink)  
Unread Mar 19th, 2011, 05:02 am
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Default Re: An Ice Breaker Every Day?

Quote:
Quote avari20 View Post
One idea that works with my students is the Last Letter Game. I'm sure just about everyone has used this, but on the off chance that you haven't, I thought I would suggest it. You start by naming a word. Student 1 has to think of a word that begins with the last letter of the word you said. They have a five second time limit. Once they've named the new word, the next student takes the last letter of Student 1's word and suggests his own word...So on and so forth. The game usually goes very fast, and it can get some laughs if someone throws out a really unusual word they know. It's great for review and as a listening exercise.
This is working well in my class at the moment but I use a kitchen timer (a cute novelty one) that you have to pass as you say the words. Everyone is standing up if the timer goes before you can say your word you have to sit down. It enourages some quick thinking!
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Unread Mar 21st, 2011, 08:23 pm
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Default Re: An Ice Breaker Every Day?

I've found that playing a song with the lyrics written on the board, or printed out on paper for students to see, works well. It wakes people up. I'll choose a Beatles classic and they can sing along (most don't) or read along (most do). They usually like the tune, and they are curious on what the lyrics mean. Good luck!
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Unread Mar 22nd, 2011, 06:14 am
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Default Re: An Ice Breaker Every Day?

I's also love some ideas for icebreakers that are good to do as students are arriving. A lot of my students come late but obviously I still want to make the start of class vauable for those who are there and encourage others to come earlier. The trouble with a lot of the cebreakers or warm-up activities I've found is that it's hard for late-comers to just join in straight away.

Any ideas?
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