All about me warmer

Level: Intermediate + (perfect for teacher training purposes too)

Focus: Ice breaker

Instructions: This warmer is perfect for one of those first classes you have with a new group. As teachers come and go, students are all too familiar with those “tell me about you” activities that tend to take place in first classes. Given that the students within the class probably already know each other reasonably well, this warmer places the focus on them getting to know you.

Prior to the class you will need to find a selection of cryptic images that represent you and your life. I have always told my students (and trainees on the first day of each TEFL course) that this is their one and only opportunity to ask me any question they like in order to determine the significance of each. Guide students to the correct answers through elicitation and prompting questions.

Click on the document below which will show a sample three images. See if you can work out what they represent (answers at the bottom of the page)

All about me warmer

Teacher Tip: this is a fab activity for building rapport with new students/trainees etc. You sharing a glimpse of your life is often enough for rapport to be established from the get-go.

I wish +past perfect (for regrets) memory game

Level: Intermediate +

Language Focus: I wish + past perfect (for regrets)

Instructions: Once the structure of “to wish + past perfect” has been taught, introduce students to your friend “Fred” on the board (as demonstrated in the photo below). Fred has numerous problems. Tell students that they will receive 45 seconds to memorize them all.

Once 45 seconds have elapsed, place students in pairs and inform them that they now have 7 minutes to remember as many of Fred’ s problems as possible and that they must convert each problem into a regret. As an example, the problem “He lost his keys last night” would become “he wishes he hadn’t lost his keys last night.” For groups where competition works well, students may be told that the first pair to remember all the problems and convert them all into regrets wins.

Teacher tip: This can be adapted and used for other grammatical areas such as to want+ object + infinitive and the “used to” expression.


Social Circle English

Level: Intermediate +

Language focus: small talk, question tags

Activity: Divide students into two equal groups. The first group should stand in a small circle facing outwards. The second group should stand in a bigger circle around them facing inwards. When teacher says “Go”, the inner circle moves in a clockwise direction and the outer circle in an ant-clockwise direction. When the teacher says “Stop”, students are to pair up with the person closest to them. The teacher then gives a scenario. Possible scenarios could be:

  • Student A is a taxi driver. Student B has just arrived in Gatwick and is in the back of the taxi travelling to his/her hotel.
  • Student B is an employee. Student A is the husband/wife of Student B’s work colleague.
  • Student A is the main speaker at a conference. Student B is an attendee at the conference. The conference has just finished.
  • Student B is a guest at a party where they know few people. Student A is the host’s cousin.
  • Student A is attending a training course. Student B is also attending a training course. Both are travelling in a lift to the twelfth floor.

Allow each round to last 45 seconds before telling the students to start rotating again.


Teacher Tip: If you have an uneven number of students in class, participate yourself to even up numbers. This will also allow you to monitor different students every 45 seconds, increasing your ability to provide group feedback.

Tangrams for ESL

Level: Pre-Int +

Language focus: shapes, imperative, prepositions of movement and place.

Time: 5 minutes

Activity: Divide students into A (Architects) and B (Constructors). Architects stand behind Constructors. Architects receive a copy of the completed tangram (as attached below) Teacher gives Constructors the cut out shapes from the tangram. Using the diagram, Architects are tell Constructors how to arrange the shapes in front of them to replicate the completed tangram. The first pair to complete the activity wins.

Teacher top tip: watch out for wandering fingers! Architects may start pointing at certain tangram pieces rather than solely relying on verbal instructions!

Download ESL warmer now : Warmer-tangram