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ESL Icebreakers for Adults - Get Moving

Updated on August 3, 2015

ESL icebreakers are great to start off a class, to get students moving after a break, or to wake them up at the end of class. These ESL icebreakers for adults get your students out of their seat! Moving the body will move blood to the brain and hopefully get your students motivated to speak in English. Getting students out of their seats can be easy and fun!

1. True/False Walls

Clear the tables and chairs to the side because you will need space. One side of the room is TRUE and the other side is FALSE. Say a sentence and students have to tell you what they think the answer is by physically moving to that side of the room.

Instead of TRUE/ FALSE, you can use:

YES/NO or ADJECTIVE/ NOUN, PRESENT/ PAST, NEWS/ GOSSIP, or.....the possibilities are endless.


2. Headline News

You'll need the local free newspaper so you can cut up the photos of the top stories. Then number the pictures and post them around the room.

In pairs students go around the room and discuss what they think the headline or caption of the photo is. After you can reveal and even give each pair the news story so they can summarize and retell to groups. At the end they will all know a bit more about what is happening in the country they are studying in and around the world.

3. Discussion Circles

Students stand in two circles. The outer circle is facing in and the inner circle is facing out so they each have a partner. Give students 5 minutes to discuss a topic that you provide or answer a conversation starter. STOP. The inner circle moves along one so they do the same with a new partner.

Possible topics: Environment, Movies, Travel, Internet, Games, Marriage, Education.


4. Fruit Basket

Put the chairs in a circle and then remove one chair so one person is standing in the middle. Each person says a fruit, it is not a problem if they say the same fruit as someone else and you can even tell them that they can tell them to only use 5-6 fruit if they are beginners.

The person in the middle says a fruit such as "Apples and Bananas". Then all of the students who are apples and bananas must stand up and find a new seat. The person in the middle also looks for a seat. Someone will be left standing.

The person in the middle can also say "Fruit Basket" and then everyone must stand and find a new seat.

This may seem young and childish but I've played this before with great success with ESL adults of all ages. Remember to set the rules that they cannot move to a seat that is beside them.

5. Guess the Word

Have students stand back to back in pairs. One student has a list of 10 words and they have to explain the words to his/her partner who guesses. There is no body language or gesture so they have to be good at describing and listen carefully to each other.

Everyone in the class is doing the same so the class becomes vibrant with English speaking words and guesses.

You can create lists based on topics or vocabulary they have studied, or random. It's good to give each pair a different list. When it's time to switch they change lists with another partner. Laminate your cards and you can use them again and again in all of your classes.

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