It's the start of a brand-new school year here in Japan so this post's theme is ice-breakers and self-introductions. (You and them!) It's an obvious way to start the year if you have new students who don't know each other but it can also be useful for students who do know each other, they may find out something new and it gives you a chance to learn more about them! The more you can use their interests in class the more engaged they will be. So you can think of this as a kind of research/reconnaissance lesson for you!
5. About Me
You will need: Pre-prepared worksheets. Feel free to download the temple "About Me" here.
This is a writing activity, make up a worksheet with fill-in-the-blank sentences. I have the students fill these out while I am taking their photos. You can use the time to walk around talking to the students informally if you wish, it's a chance for real English conversation with no pressure.
4. Find Someone Who
You will need: Worksheet with a grid of various activities. Or a blank grid if you have high-level students.
A simple mingle where students can ask each other questions and attempt to get a "bingo" finish the worksheet or ask as many people as possible in the time frame. Higher level students can fill out the grid themselves with whatever they want. Be aware that university students or adults may use this as a way to find a date (of course you can make that your theme if you want!)
3. Class Survey
You will need: a survey worksheet with questions of your choosing, a list of the class members, (possibly a report worksheet or arts and crafts supplies)
This is good for classes who don't yet know each other very well. If you have a large class, split them down into groups. Give each group/student one or two questions on a theme (sports, hobbies, family, pets, TV). Give each student a list of the class. (For large classes each group member will take a section of the class instead of asking everyone). Give them some time to collect all the answers. You can either jot the results up on the board and finish there or have each member/group make a poster or report if you wish to continue the activity.
2. Stand Up/Sit Down
You will need: nothing, or memo paper
First you say a sentence like "Everyone who likes Harry Potter stand up" Now you should have a random selection of students standing. Now say something like "Everyone who ate bread for breakfast change" now the students who are standing and ate bread will sit down, the students who are sitting and ate bread will stand up.
Draw a student's name at random and have them think of the next sentence (if you have a lot of shy students you can keep saying the sentences or you can have the students think of a sentence before the game starts). There are many ways you can choose to end the game. Either pick a number at random and when you have that number of students standing the game is over, or you can have a timer, or you can play a certain number of rounds. I usually end this with a simple silly "punishment" like jump ten times or do five push ups. It is up to you whether you have the standing students or the sitting students do the punishment (and remember don't use English as a punishment!!)
1. Likes and Dislikes
You will need: You can do this with no materials if you wish, or have an envelope with slips of paper with various items, and big 'YES' and 'NO' banners for each team.
This perhaps works best with groups who don't know each other so well, but even if they do they can be surprised! It can be played as a whole class team game or in smaller groups. You will choose a student at random to stand up. Pull a slip of paper and ask the class "Does she like 'monkeys'? The teams have to choose 'yes' or 'no'. Then ask the student and award points to those teams with the correct answer. For smaller groups have the players take turns answering.
For a variation or if you want a change of pace, have the students think of their own "Do I like~?" question. Remind them that they can be tricky or they can be even trickier by having an obvious answer.