a story about bad grammar and non-existent punctuation and my TEFL adventures
I once made the mistake of not realising that my students didn’t know each other. I was teaching a short course of just three weeks and I was new to the school and was so involved in my own new-ness that I didn’t stop to think that my students didn’t really know each other either. What ended up happening was that in the second week of the course I did an activity requiring the students the write down the names of their classmates (all of them) and there were some they didn’t know! Disgraceful!
So, even though I think get-to-know-you, ice-breaker activities are lame and a bit cheesy, here are my 5 favourites:
* Speed-dating: Arrange the classroom so that the students are sitting in pairs and it is easy for them to move around and move between the groups. Give the pairs 30 seconds to speak to each other and find out as much as they can about their partners. For lower levels, spend some time thinking up or even writing down some appropriate questions. the 30 seconds can also be flexible if the students need more time. After 30 seconds, the students must change seats to talk to a new person. (This can be done in a number of ways, depending on how long you want the activity to go on for). Finally, students can go back to their original seats and compare notes on the classmates they spoke to.
* Toilet Paper Challenge. Pass around a roll of toilet paper and tell the students to take some. Don’t tell them why and do it casually so nobody realises the significance. However many squares of toilet paper have been taken, this is how many facts about themselves the students must share in their groups.
* Two Truths and a Lie. Students must come up with three facts about themselves, but once must be false. They tell their facts to their groups who must then decide which are true and which is false. To make the activity work, the facts need to be a little bit abstract or difficult:
I have a motorbike.
I used to live in Thailand.
I have 4 sisters.
* Guess Who? Similar to Two Truths, students write a fact about themselves on a piece of paper. Students mingle and guess who they facts belong to. Finally they need to mingle in order to find out if their guesses were correct or not.
* The Common Game: students need to mingle to find out something they have in common with each of their classmates. Again, for lower classes this will need to be demonstrated and ideas brainstormed before the activity is done. You might need to veto some ideas – “I’m learning English” – so that the activity doesn’t take all of 5 seconds.
Basically though, all that needs to done is spend some time in the first class letting the students become more familiar with each other and comfortable enough to speak their minds and make mistakes.