I learnt this icebreaker from Paul Carr, a senior teacher at The Globe School in Exeter, while I was working there this summer and I’ve used it many times since with teenagers and adults. It can be adapted for topic and level as you like.
Each student needs a piece of paper and a pen. Tell them to write the numbers 1-6 down one side. You will do this too. Next to each number you are going to tell them what to write:
- The first name of your favourite actor
- What job you wanted to have when you were little
- Where you would like to go on holiday
- Have you been to an English-speaking country?
- The number of years you have been learning English
- Your least favourite activity
Everyone’s paper should look something like this:
- Fashion Designer
- tidying my room
Now tell them that they are going to have a new identity. No.1 is now their first name, no.2 their surname, no.3 where they live, no.4 is whether they are married or single, no.5 how many children they’ve got and no.6 their favourite hobby. Then tell them that they are going to meet the rest of the class, as if at a cocktail party, but with their new identities. It’s a good idea to model this with a student first, because it takes some people a minute to get their head round the idea.
For example: “Hi! How are you? I’m Dustin, Dustin Fashion-Designer. And you are?”
“I’m Johnny Princess.”
“Lovely to meet you! Where are you from?
“New York. And you?
“I’m from Vietnam. So, are you here with your wife?”
“No, I’m not married, but I have got four children.”
“Wow, do you want some of mine? I’ve got 34. Ha ha ha. What do you in your free time?”
“Well, I love doing the ironing. I’ve won a medal or two. What about you?”
“Fantastic! I’m a keen room-tidier, myself”
You get the picture.
So the students – and you – mingle and have silly conversations as their fake identities. When the time’s up, I usually get them to talk to their partner about what they now know about the real identities of the people in the room, ie. She said she’s from Vietnam so she must want to go to Vietnam.