Whether it is the first day of class or you have been teaching the same group of students for a while, get to know you activities are a favorite.
For new classes, they help students begin friendships and find things in common. For students who already know each other, they provide an opportunity to learn new and sometimes surprising things about friends. Perhaps that is why I always like to keep a few get to know you activities at the ready. They are a great way to fill a few minutes in class that you might not have expected to have. If they require no prep like these, then they are even better. And that is what you have below – a list of easy, no prep activities that will help your students get to know each other for the first time or better than they ever have before. Read on, and you might find you’ll want to do one in your class today.
Try These 4 No Prep Get to Know You (or Know You Better) Activities
This is a fun game that is easy and energetic and gives students a chance to show what they know about each other and learn new things as well. It also gets your class moving, so it’s great to play on a morning when everyone is starting out a bit sluggish. To play, have your students arrange their chairs in a circle in the center of the room. You will not want to have any desks or any other items in the middle of the circle. Take one chair away so you have one person standing in the middle of the circle and the rest of your class sitting in the circle. The person who is standing starts a sentences with, “I have never…” and then completes it with something they have never done and which they think at least one of their classmates has done. For example, if you were teaching English in the U.S. your student should NOT say, “I have never been to America.” Your student might say, “I have never been to Mexico.” At that point, any student sitting in the circle who has been to Mexico must get up out of their seat and sit down in a new one. The person in the middle will also sit down in an empty seat. Once all the seats are full, you will once again have one person in the middle of the circle. This game is flexible because you can play with any number of students and for any length of time. It’s also a great go to if you have recently taught the past perfect tense.
Would You Rather…?
This game is so popular, an entire book has been written for it. In essence the game is very simple. Give students a choice between two things and ask them which they would prefer. That’s it. You can ask your students questions from the book, but you can easily come up with your own questions (and use words from your current vocabulary unit) such as Would you rather have just peanut butter or just jelly? Would you rather fly an airplane or drive a car? Would you rather eat only pizza for the rest of your life or not eat at all? When you give the choices, you should point to one side of the room for each answer. Students run to the side that represents their choice. This alone is a good icebreaker, but the next step makes it a great one for ESL classes. Choose one or more person and ask them why they made the choice that they made. This gives students speaking practice and lets the rest of the class get to know a little more about the person who is speaking. Play for as long as you like (or as long as you can think of questions).
One on one interviews are a great way to get to know someone in a deeper way, and they also make great exercises for ESL students. For one, they require both listening and speaking skills as students ask each other questions and give answers. They give students who have known each other for a long time as well as those who have just met a chance to ask questions and hear experiences that their partner has had. And you can have your students use the information they receive in either a written project or an oral one. If this is the first time your students are doing interviews, take a minute or two to brainstorm with your class questions that an interviewer might ask. Then have students partner up and choose from those questions or use their own to get to know each other better. Make sure students have enough time to both ask and answer questions. Then give your students an opportunity to share what they have learned. You might want to give each class member a minute or two to tell the class about their partner. Or you might have students write up an introduction for their partner and then post their write-ups on an empty bulletin board.
Two Truths and a Lie
This is a super simple game that gives your students a chance to reveal facts about themselves that just might be unbelievable. It works well with a new class or an established one. Students start by coming up with three statements about themselves. Two statements should be true, and one statement should be a lie. Then students take turns reading their statements to the class, and the class guesses which of the three statements is a lie. You can have all of your students share their facts in one session or have one or two students share at the beginning of each day’s class. Even if you play this game with your students one time, you can always play it again. Students just have to come up with three different statements about themselves for each round of play.
How well can we really know another person?
Better than you think with these four get to know you activities. Try one with your class today or when you have a new group of students and see just how well your students can get to know each other.