Adding new twists to old icebreakers

In this post I am writing about turning some classic icebreakers into more interesting, meaningful activities that allow for richer language use and actually getting to know each other.

Last year I posted about 5 icebreakers for the first day of class. As I have been using them on a fairly regular basis when meeting new students, I have realised that there was a lot missing from the existing formula in terms of some actual student interest in the content of the activity. I have been adding small, simple changes to these well-known activities in order to make them more engaging, increase students’ participation, offer more meaningful context for speaking, and create a situation where some actual getting to know each other could take place.

Icebreaker: The Cloud Game

The Twist: at the end of the activity students choose the most interesting fact about the teacher / their partner and talk about it in more depth.

Icebreaker: Find Somebody Who

The Twist: reformulate the instructions to enable the students to ask more open-ended questions, explore relevant topics in more depth, and find what they might have in common with their classmates.


Instead of   Find somebody who likes English   ask your students to   Find somebody who has similar experience learning English.

Instead of Find somebody who likes Michael Jackson  ask your students to Find somebody who shares your musical taste.

Instead of Find somebody who was to the seaside this summer  ask your students to Find somebody who would enjoy your dream holiday.

Instead of Find somebody who likes comedy films  ask your students to Find somebody who has seen your favourite film.

Icebreaker: Two truths and a lie

The Twist: after revealing which sentence is a lie, encourage your students to think of reasons and consequences of this fact being false and explore their ideas through conversation.

The false sentence: I won several swimming competitions as a child.  ( It is false as I can’t swim.)

Possible reasons:

  • Are you afraid of water?
  • Are you too lazy to learn?
  • Do you think swimming is a useful skill?

Possible consequences:

  • Do you ever go to the seaside?
  • What sports do you do?
  • Would you like to take swimming lessons?

Each question might then be directed at the person who asked it creating a conversation that might not necessarily entirely revolve around the topic of swimming. This activity enables more information and opinion exchange than simply learning that the teacher / one of the students can’t swim (so what?).

Not sure how to plan your first class with a new student? Get my FREE GUIDE here.

For more ideas for icebreakers see here:

–> A betting game icebreaker

–>A low-prep icebreaker: time travel

–> More back to school icebreakers

–> 5 icebreakers for the first day

What do you think about these three classic icebreakers? Have you dropped them, modified them, or do you like them the way they are?


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