ESL Icebreakers are an important part of any language teacher’s set of tools. The first class with any group can be difficult for both students and teacher. For students, the first lesson may be nervous ordeal as they may have not spoken English in some time. Due to this the first class should be to promote a positive and fun learning environment where students have the opportunity to speak English without fear of mistakes.
Icebreakers are a great way to start the first class as they help create a positive group atmosphere, help people relax and help students get to know one another. For this reason we have put together a number of ESL icebreakers which are suitable for young learners, teens and adults of all levels. These activities are designed to build rapport with students and are sure to start the course off in a positive and constructive way.
First Class ESL Icebreakers
5 First Day Activities – Young learners, teens and adults All Levels
Five first class activities for young learners, teens and adults.
ESL Creativity Activity – Teens and Adults All Levels
Give students a partly drawn picture which they must complete the picture in any way that they wish. This activity is a nice way to create something in the first class.
Human Bingo – Young learners 10+, teens and adults. All levels
In this activity, students are given a bingo card with random statements. Students must go around the room questioning the other students in class to complete their bingo card.
Human Spelling – Young learners (8 years +) and teens. All levels
In this activity, students are put into teams and given a clue. First they must work out what word the clue is and then spell the word using only their bodies.
ID Cards – Teens and Adults. Lower Intermediate A2 +
Students work in pairs in this activity. The teacher gives each student a card with a number of questions. The students must interview each other and fill out their card. Later the students use the information they have collected to introduce their partner to the rest of the class.
Class Snap – All Ages. All levels.
Class Snap is a no prep warmer/first class icebreaker that helps students get focused before starting class. In this activity, students close their eyes and collectively have to count to 20. The counting starts with the teacher saying ‘1’ and then another students continues and the class counts one person at a time. If two students say a number at the same time the counting must start again from the beginning.
Speaking ESL Icebreakers
Magazine Personalities – Teens and Adults. Lower Intermediate +
Magazine Personalities is a great way to get to know your class in your first lesson and to get them speaking about themselves and their interests.
First Class Scavenger Hunt – Young learners and teens. Beginners +
A fun and energetic first class icebreaker that works well with young learners and teens. In this activity each student is given a handout. On the handout there are a number of statements. Students must go around the classroom asking other students if they have ever done the things listed.
Tell Us About Yourself – Teens and Adults. Intermediate +
The teacher passes a bag of sweets to the class. Students take as many as sweets as they want. For each sweet they took, the students must share one thing about them.
Six Degrees of Separation – Teens and Adults. Lower Intermediate +
The object of this activity is to see how small the world really is. Students work in pairs and make a list of things that they have in common with each other.
Dead or Alive – Teens and adults Lower intermediate +
In this activity, students think of three people, dead or alive, that they would like to have lunch with. Students first write a list of who they would like to have lunch with and tell the class or their partner why they would like to meet them.
Numbers in my Life – Teens and Adults. Lower Intermediate +
In this activity, students choose three numbers that are significant in their lives. After, students try to guess the meaning of a volunteers numbers. If the class cannot guess the significance the student tell the students what those numbers mean to them.
Deserted Island – Young learners and Teens. Lower Intermediate +
Students imagine they have been trapped on a desert island. They must think of five things that they would take with them if they lived on a deserted island.
Who am I? – Teens and Adults. Lower Intermediate
The teacher gives students a card with famous peoples’ names. Students then must ask the other students yes/no questions to guess who the famous person is.
Online ESL Icebreakers
All About You – Teens and Adults Beginners +
All about you in an interactive board game that focuses on ‘get to know you’ type questions. Use this activity to find out a little more about your students. This game is ideal for online (zoom) or in class lessons using a projector.
ESL Vocabulary Fortunes – Young learners (10 years +), Teens and Adults Lower intermediate +
Vocabulary Fortunes is a fun online game that is a great way to end class with students. In this game students practice vocabulary from different categories.
ESL Icebreaker Conversation Questions – Teens and Adults Intermediate +
Break the ice with these 150+ Conversation starters questions.
Find More ESL Icebreakers and activities on our YouTube Channel
Last updated: 1 February 2021