Top ESL Icebreakers for the TEFL classroom

The first few minutes of English class are crucial for setting the tone for the whole period, so it’s important to start with a bang. EFL students might be coming to class tired after a long day or groggy and sleepy-eyed, so we want to get them engaged and energetic, and it might take a little creativity to get the class energized. Get them moving with these ESL classroom icebreakers:

1. Would You Rather…?

Students can make their own would you rather questions, such as, “Would you rather eat worms or cockroaches?” They ask each other the questions and then follow up with “Why?”

 2. Two Truths and a Lie

This can be good for the very first class but also as a warm-up. One English student tells three statements to the class. Two are true and one is a lie. Other students must guess which statement is a lie and if they can, explain why they think so.

 3. Positive, Negative, Crazy

Write a discussion topic on the board (for example food, social media, dating) and then pass a ball or “hot potato” to a student. If you say “positive,” the student must make a positive statement about the topic, such as “My favorite restaurant is Ichiban Sushi.” If you say “negative,” they must make a negative statement about the topic, e.g. “Facebook decreases productivity at work!” And, if you say “crazy,” the sentence they create can be anything they like, such as “My sister spends 6 hours a day looking at Facebook!” (Speaking of Facebook, visit our page!)

 4. Finish the Sentence

Write half a sentence or statement on a piece of paper (make a few different ones). Students take a half-sentence, read it out loud, and then finish the sentence. To really get them going, time them for 30 seconds and make them talk the whole time.

 5. The Hot Seat

Put a chair at the front of the room with its back facing the board; this is the Hot Seat and a student volunteer must sit here. Then write a word on the board (for beginners, tell them the category or theme of words – this could be vocabulary they are already studying). Then the other students try to prompt the hot seater into guessing what the word is by describing it without saying the actual word (fun with famous people too!).

Read about more fun and engaging classroom games and activities to bring to your TEFL classroom. 

This post was originally written by Rachel Spillane and was updated on July 20, 2017.