ESL First Day of Class Games

The Name Game

ESL First Day of Class Game - Speaking Activity - Young Learners - 20 minutes

This engaging first day of class introduction game helps students get to know each other. In the game, students race to give basic personal information about themselves and repeat other students' information. Arrange the students into two teams and sit each team in a circle. Tell the teams that they are going to race each other to say everyone's name in their team. Give the first student in each team a ball. The first student begins by saying their name, e.g. 'I'm Ryan'. The first student then passes the ball to the second student who repeats the first student's name and then says their own name, e.g. 'He's Ryan, and I'm Kate'. The second student passes the ball to the next student who continues, e.g. 'He's Ryan. She's Kate, and I'm Amiko'. The game continues until all the names have been said. If a student forgets the name of a teammate, the team starts over from the first student. The first team to finish wins the round and scores a point. Then, start with a different student and repeat the game with other personal information, e.g. age, height, etc. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
The Name Game Preview
The Name Game
 

Trip to the Moon

ESL First Day of Class Game - Listening and Speaking Activity - Young Learners - 15 minutes

Here is an entertaining way to get students to introduce themselves to the class. This introduction game works best with young learners. Begin the game by saying, "I'm the captain of a spaceship. I'm going on a trip to the moon. Who wants to go with me and what are you going to bring?" Then, write the following sentence on the board for the students to say: Hi, my name is... and I'm going to bring a/an/some... The students who are allowed to go are the ones who bring something that begins with the first letter of their name. However, don't explain this to the students. It's up to them to work it out! The first student then stands up and says, "Hi, my name is... and I'm going to bring a/an/some..." If the item doesn't match with the first letter of their name, say, "I'm sorry, you can't go." Then, move on to the next student. If a student manages to work it out or accidentally says an item matching with the first letter of their name, you accept them on board and write up their name. Eventually, most of the students will understand the game when they see that some students are allowed to go. You can also have the students give more information about themselves (e.g. their age, hobbies, etc) by adding to the text on the board.
Trip to the Moon Preview
Trip to the Moon
 

Snowball Fight

ESL First Day of Class Game - Reading and Writing Activity - Elementary (A1-A2) - 25 minutes

Here is an inventive way for students to introduce each other on the first day of class. This game works best with younger students. Students begin by writing their name and five things about themselves on a piece of recycled paper, e.g. their age, hobbies, etc. If you want to give the students more direction, write a short introductory text on the board for them to copy onto the paper and complete with their own information. Next, divide the students into two teams. Have the teams stand facing each other at opposite sides of the classroom. Students then crumple their paper into a snowball and have a snowball fight. When you say 'go', the snowball fight commences. When you shout 'stop', anyone holding a snowball must open up the paper and find the person whose name is written inside. The student then introduces the person to the class using the information written on the paper in the third person, e.g. 'His name is Joshua. He is 11 years old', etc. When the introductions have been made, the corresponding snowballs are removed from the game. The two teams continue the snowball fight until everyone has been introduced to the class.
Snowball Fight Preview
Snowball Fight
 

My Life in Five Sentences

ESL First Day of Class Game - Writing, Reading, Ordering and Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 25 minutes

Here is an icebreaker activity for the first day of class to help students get to know each other. In the activity, students use sequence words to order information about a partner. Write five sentences on the board in a random order about interesting things you have done in your life. Then, write some sequence words on the board, e.g. first, second, etc. Tell the students that the sentences are things you have done in your life but the order is wrong. Students then guess the correct order of the five sentences using the sequence words on the board until someone gives you the right order. Students can do this verbally or you can have them write the sentences. Next, tell the students to write five sentences in a random order about interesting things they have done, avoiding sentences where the chronological order is obvious. When the students have finished, divide them into pairs. Students then read their partner's sentences and try to put them in the right order using sequence words. If the order is wrong, the student tries again until they get it right. Students repeat this process with several partners. Afterwards, students give feedback to the class on the information they found out.
My Life in Five Sentences Preview
My Life in Five Sentences
 

Secrets

ESL First Day of Class Game - Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 25 minutes

Here is a fun mystery game to play on the first day of class that helps motivate students to ask questions and learn interesting things about one another. To start, students write their name on a piece of paper and a secret about themselves, such as a hidden talent, a skill, accomplishment, etc. After that, collect in the slips, read them, and choose one slip that has an interesting secret on it. Next, invite three students to go out of the classroom. One of the three students must be the person who wrote the secret. Go out of the room and tell the three students the secret on the slip and explain that they must all claim to have that secret. Bring the three students back into the room and sit them down in front of the class. Tell the class the secret and explain that the secret belongs to one of the students. The students' task is to ask the three students 'Wh' questions to determine which students are lying and which student is telling the truth. After a few minutes of questioning, students vote for the person they think is telling the truth. Each student who guessed correctly scores one point. Then, choose another secret and repeat the process and so on. The student with the most points at the end of the game wins.
Secrets Preview
Secrets
 

Teacher's Question Time

ESL First Day of Class Game - Reading, Writing and Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate (A2-B1) - 40 minutes

This fun first day of class game can be used to introduce yourself and the course to a new class of students. The game also helps you gain insight into your students' level of English. Before you begin, don't give the students any information about yourself or the course. Working alone, students write 3 to 5 questions they would like to ask about you or the course. While the students are writing, put the students' names on the board. Next, ask a student to come to the front of the class. Tell the class that the student is going to take on the role of the teacher (you) and attempt to answer another student's questions. The student then tries to guess the answers to the questions asked by a classmate. The student scores one point for a correct (or close enough) answer. If the student gives an incorrect answer, write an 'X' next to their score. The classmate asking the question should also mark an 'X' next to the corresponding question. The game continues with students taking it in turns to be the teacher and guess the answers to a classmate's questions until everyone has asked and answered one set of questions. The student with the most points at the end of the game wins. Afterwards, answer any questions marked 'X' that were left unanswered.
Teacher's Question Time Preview
Teacher's Question Time
 

Two Truths and a Lie

ESL First Day of Class Game - Writing and Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate (A2-B1) - 20 minutes

This first day of class ice breaker can be used to either introduce information about yourself to a new class or for students to get to know one another. One version is played between the teacher and the class and in the other students play in small groups. In the teacher-to-class version, prepare ten sets of 'Two Truths and a Lie' statements, corresponding to categories of personal information, e.g. family, hobbies, education, etc. Divide the class into teams and present a set of statements to the class. Teams then race to guess which statement is a lie. If a team guesses correctly, they score one point. If a team guesses incorrectly, they lose two points. The game continues until all the sets of statements have been guessed correctly. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins. In the student-to-student version, each student prepares four categories of 'Two Truths and a Lie' statements. In groups of four, students then take it in turns presenting a set of statements and each group member then guesses which statement is a lie. Students who guessed correctly score one point. The student with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
Two Truths and a Lie Preview
Two Truths and a Lie
 

ABC

ESL First Day of Class Game - Writing, Listening and Speaking Activity - Any Level - 20 minutes

Here is a first day of class icebreaker game to help students introduce themselves. The game works best with small class sizes. Give each student three blank cards labelled A, B and C. On the cards, students write information about themselves such as their name, age, etc. Next, take all the cards back and shuffle them. Have the students sit in a circle and hand out three cards to each student. The first student asks the person on their right to swap one, two or three cards with the student sitting to their right or left. The next student does the same and so on. This continues until one of the students gets their three cards back. When this happens, the student says 'ABC'. All the students then place both hands in the middle of the circle. The last student to do this gets the letter 'A'. The student who got their cards back then introduces themselves to the class using the information they wrote on their cards and leaves the game. If a student is the last person to put both hands in the circle a second time, they get a letter 'B'. If this happens again, they get a letter 'C' and have to repeat the names and information of all the students that have introduced themselves. The game continues until all the students have introduced themselves to the class.
ABC Preview
ABC
 

Who am I?

ESL First Day of Class Game - Speaking Activity - Any Level - 20 minutes

This first day of class icebreaker helps you to introduce yourself to the class and gives you insight into your students' level of English. Cover the board with numbered information and answers about yourself. The type and amount of information you write will depend on the level of your class, e.g. 1. John, 2. blue, etc. Next, divide the students into two teams (A and B). Tell the class that the information and answers on the board are about you. Explain that the aim of the game is for teams to choose a number and ask a question that they think matches with the answer on the board. For some answers, many questions may be possible, but only one question is correct. Teams then take it in turns to choose a number and ask a question. Teams score one point for the correct question and one point for using the correct grammar. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
Who am I? Preview
Who am I?
 

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