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3 ice-breakers any teacher should know before they meet a group of students for their 1st English lesson (online or in person)

Curated with love by: Suzanne Pilch, mpec Partner, ICF Certified Coach, MA of TESoL

Starting a new job is daunting. But facing a group of students for the 1st time can be downright terrifying. 
What I used to do in situations like these was not to hide from myself how I felt. Acknowledging that I felt scared and unprepared usually made me focus more on what I wanted to do and pushed me to prepare something solid rather than going in hoping it would be fine. 
If you researched this article because you felt slightly nauseous at the thought of having to face a group of English students, or if you were browsing through the internet looking for ideas to plan your first English lesson because you felt worried it wouldn’t be as good as you want it to be, you did just that – and that is truly amazing.

Today, I would like to share with you 3 Ice Breakers for your Very First English Lesson that I created and used for many years of my career as a ESL teacher and communication coach

scared? We've got your back at mpec
Scared? We’ve got your back at mpec!

Ice-Breaker 1: End the sentence

Write on the whiteboard (or in your slides if you’re online) the following sentence starters:

1. A word that defines me is… 

2. The food I cannot stop eating is..

3. Last good movie I watched was…

4. My favourite sport is…

5. The city I would move to tomorrow is…

… and so on. You can adapt the level of difficulty to the level you believe your students may have.
Student 1 reads the sentence starter and completes it with their own ending. Then, they choose who should go next. Go on until all the students have completed one sentence. You can repeat the same sentence for more than 1 student as their answers will differ. 

Ice-Breaker 2: The most important picture on my phone (B1+ levels)

Give the students 30 seconds to find the picture on their phone that they love / like / are proud of.

Put the students in pairs. 

Each student has 30 sec to describe the context in which the picture was taken.

The other student needs to ask 3 questions about the picture.Only after the description of the context and the 3 questions + answers can the students show the picture to their partner. This is a great bonding exercise for newly formed groups

show me your phone mpec
Show me your phone, I’ll tell you who you are

Ice-Breaker 3: Ask me a question!

Ask each student to write down 1- 3 questions THEY would enjoy answering themselves. For example, I would write: Do you like dogs? What books do you like to read and why? What is one thing you would change about your life? Because I personally would like to answer these 3 questions. 

Put the questions in a bowl or use a mixing software if you are online Each student is given a random question. They are supposed to:

A) read the question out loud 

B) answer it

C) try to guess who the author is

ask me a question mpec
Ask me a question!

I am sure you may be scared / sleep-deprived/ anxious or similar before your first lesson. I think this is a good feeling if (IF!) you do not let it turn into panic. Being scared makes you feel resourceful and creative as it enhances your solution-focus and problem solving skills. So, so far so good!

Just breathe now, smile, choose what you will be wearing tomorrow and … enjoy the day ahead of you !  You can watch the Live Session with Suzanne below:

Sending you all my ESLove,


If you want to find out more about Suzanne and her Business Partner, Ed, visit Chi Siamo / Who We Are