A veteran world languages teacher shares her go-to icebreaker activities.
I’ve always loved icebreaker games as a great back-to-school activity. There are a lot of great ways to use icebreakers as a teaching tool and keep everyone in the target language, even from day one.
Here are some of my favorites examples to give you a jump start. I hope it sparks some ideas on how to use these at different levels!
This activity is a high-impact way to maximize language input and low-affective-filter output while getting to know your students, even in Level 1.
“I do too."
Act out different interests while stating them in your target language. Bonus: you’ll learn each other’s interests! Here are some examples:
“I like to read.”
“I play football.”
“I listen to hip-hop music.”
Students with more language ability can respond with more sophisticated phrases and take turns leading the activity. This can certainly be adapted to match any kind of target language goals with phrases such as personality traits, food preferences, summer activities, and future plans.
A spin-off of a popular icebreaker activity about interesting things about oneself is to have students think about boring things about themselves. The pressure to share interesting or personal information is removed, it can easily be accomplished in the target language, and the simplicity of it all can become quite humorous.
“I bring a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch every day.”
“I put my socks on before my shoes.”
“I sit on the couch when I watch television.”
This can easily be differentiated for different levels. For lower levels, you can provide a list of boring statements about people for them to select from and survey their classmates.
This activity is fun for writing or speaking and can take on many different forms. You could even use it in conjunction with Plain Ole Me.
Student A: I eat lunch every day.
Student B: I eat breakfast every day.
Student C: I eat breakfast at 7:30.
Student D: I prepare breakfast at 7:30.
This is a really fun activity to use in a lot of different ways and can easily be differentiated. For instance, you could have students work in pairs. Or, have students fold the paper to make four squares and do one statement per square. Students then choose which statement they want to change.
These activities always engaged and appropriately challenged students when I was in the classroom, and I hope you’ll be inspired to try your own versions of them as well! Plus, these don’t have to be relegated as back-to-school activities, so add these activities to your toolbox for when you need something light, interactive, and easy to implement.
Jennifer Kilmore is a veteran world language teacher with a background in in-person, hybrid, and virtual instruction. She is very involved in professional language organizations and is a member of American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL’s) Leadership in Leadership Initiative for Language Learning. She is passionate about the lasting positive influences that language learning has on students.Explore more related to this author