Icebreaker ESL Activity: “Find Someone Who”

Experienced language teachers know that it is essential to establish a classroom environment where learners feel comfortable enough to take risks and make mistakes in front of their peers and the teacher.  Teachers often use icebreaker activities at first class meetings to set the tone and to start building a comfortable class atmosphere.  There are many ways to do this, and one of the most popular icebreakers is “Find Someone Who.”

A Reason To Communicate – Icebreaker ESL Activity

If you are teaching students who have received language instruction in communicative programs before, chances are good that they have already done this activity– perhaps even several times.  This is important to keep in mind especially if you are working in a large school on the first day of classes, and students may have even done a “find someone who” activity in another class earlier in the day.  That said, the activity can be very effective because it gives your students a reason to communicate with each other and quickly gets students talking and enjoying their first class.

Variations – Icebreaker ESL Activity

If you do plan to use a “Find Someone Who” activity as an icebreaker, consider some variations.  For example, rather than a list of characteristics for each student, individuals can have their own single question provided to them on a small slip of paper.  Then they can look around the room and predict how many of their classmates will meet the criterion before surveying the class.  For example:

My question:  How many people in this class love to cook?

What I can ask:  “Do you love to cook?”

My guess:  10/15

The facts:  14/15

My comment: I was surprised because there are mostly boys in our class.

This variation can be exploited in many ways.  Questions can be related to current events, anticipated student interests, or school/program/course information. Opportunities for discussions based on student predictions and their comments are only limited by your imagination as a teacher through the questions you provide.  You can also consider allowing students to create their own questions, with some guidance from you to ensure questions are appropriate and clear.

Don’t be afraid to try out your own variations on popular teaching activities and techniques.  Doing so will “keep it fresh” for your students, and for you, and may lead to improved opportunities for language learning.

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