On the hunt for some ESL icebreaker activities? We’ve got you covered.

As the new school year approaches, teachers and students around the world are gearing up for another exciting adventure in the realm of English as a Second Language (ESL) education. Whether you’re a seasoned TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) professional or a fresh-faced educator, one thing remains constant: the importance of creating a positive and engaging learning environment from day one.

One of the best ways to kickstart your ESL classroom and foster a welcoming atmosphere is by using icebreaker activities. These activities not only help students get to know each other but also encourage language practice in a fun and interactive way. 

Here are the 7 Icebreaker activities to do in your classroom

So, let’s dive into seven sizzling ESL icebreakers that will not only break the ice but also ignite the learning flame in your students and set the stage for a successful school year.

7 ESL Icebreaker Activities for Your New School Year

1. Two Truths and a Lie

“Two Truths and a Lie” is a classic icebreaker that not only helps students learn about their classmates but also provides an opportunity to practice listening and critical thinking as they try to spot the lie.

Objective: Encourage students to introduce themselves and develop their listening skills.

How to Play:

  • Each student writes down two true statements about themselves and one false statement.
  • In a circle or randomly chosen order, each student takes turns sharing their three statements.
  • The rest of the class listens and tries to guess which statement is the lie.
  • After everyone has shared, reveal the lies and discuss any surprising facts.

2. The Name Game

“The Name Game” is an excellent ESL activity for helping students remember their classmates’ names, which is crucial for building rapport. Additionally, it reinforces vocabulary related to adjectives and pronunciation.

Objective: Learn each other’s names and practice speaking and listening skills.

How to Play:

  • Students stand in a circle.
  • The first student says their name along with an adjective that starts with the same letter as their name (e.g., “Happy Hannah”).
  • The next student repeats the first student’s name and adjective and then says their own.
  • Continue around the circle, with each student reciting the names and adjectives of those who came before them.

7 ESL Icebreaker Activities for Your New School Year - Premier TEFL

3. Find Someone Who…

This activity gets students out of their seats and interacting with others, fostering a sense of community while practising conversation and questioning skills. It also helps students discover common interests and shared experiences.

Objective: Promote communication and interaction among students.

How to Play:

  • Distribute a sheet with statements like “Find someone who has travelled to more than three countries” or “Find someone who can play a musical instrument.”
  • Students must move around the classroom and ask their classmates these questions.
  • When they find someone who matches a statement, that person signs their sheet.
  • The goal is to get as many signatures as possible within a set time limit.

4. The Ball Toss

“The Ball Toss” keeps students engaged and on their toes. It promotes spontaneity and helps shy or introverted students come out of their shells by providing a structured way to participate in class.

Objective: Encourage speaking fluency and create a dynamic atmosphere.

How to Play:

  • Prepare a softball or plush toy.
  • Stand in a circle and start by tossing the ball to one student.
  • The student who catches the ball must introduce themselves and share something interesting about themselves.
  • They then toss the ball to another student, who repeats the process.

7 ESL Icebreaker Activities for Your New School Year - TEFL students

5. Picture Storytelling

This ESL activity not only hones students’ descriptive language skills but also sparks creativity. It’s an excellent way to introduce vocabulary related to visual elements and narrative storytelling.

Objective: Foster creativity and develop descriptive language skills.

How to Play:

  • Provide each student with a random picture or image.
  • Ask them to study the picture for a few minutes and jot down their observations.
  • In pairs or small groups, students take turns describing the picture to their partners.
  • Encourage them to invent a story based on the image.

6. The Memory Game

“The Memory Game” promotes active listening and memory retention. It’s an engaging way to introduce and review vocabulary related to everyday objects.

Objective: Enhance memory and encourage active listening.

How to Play:

  • Place various small objects or flashcards on a table.
  • Invite students to gather around and study the objects for a few minutes.
  • Cover the objects or remove them from sight.
  • In pairs or small groups, students take turns trying to recall and describe as many objects as they can.

7. Survey Says! for ESL Icebreaker Activity

“Survey Says!” encourages students to work together in groups and provides ample practice in forming questions and responses. It’s a great way to develop conversational skills and explore topics of interest.

Objective: Encourage group discussion and practice question formation.

How to Play:

  • Create a list of survey questions (e.g., “What’s your favourite season?” or “Do you prefer cats or dogs?”).
  • Divide the class into small groups.
  • Each group takes turns asking the survey questions to their members and recording the responses.
  • Afterwards, groups share interesting findings with the whole class.

Conclusion – ESL Icebreaker Activities for Your Classroom

These seven ESL icebreaker activities are fantastic tools for teachers to kickstart their classrooms and create a positive, engaging learning environment. Icebreakers help students get to know each other, develop essential language skills, and build confidence in using English. 

By incorporating these activities into your teaching repertoire, you’ll be well on your way to a successful and enjoyable school year in the world of TEFL. So, welcome your students with open arms and a fun icebreaker, and watch the magic of language learning unfold before your eyes.

Now, if you’re itching to create your own mind-blowing ESL icebreakers, check out websites like ESL Games Plus and Teach-This.com. They’re treasure troves of icebreaker ideas and resources that’ll keep your classroom buzzing with excitement all year long.

So, here’s to a year filled with laughter, learning, and loads of ESL icebreakers that make your classroom the coolest spot on the planet!

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