'You what?' Name game with follow-up interview/introduction task.

Icebreaker/ Name game : Dialogue : Introductions

I often use this ice-breaker activity on the first day with a new class. I’ve used it with university students, business classes and even at a teacher training workshop. It makes a change from the usual introduction round of ‘name, job, hobby’ and while there is a bit of fun to it, its educational enough for students who baulk at the idea of ‘games’ in a lesson for adults.

1. The name game.

Write your introduction on the board and highlight the alliteration.

‘I’m Lonely Laura and I like limes’ or ‘I’m Lazy Laura and I lived in London’.

Give students a minute or two to come up with their sentence. Each student will re-introduce the person who went before them, and then add their own introduction. If they are stuck for ideas, allow them to ask their neighbour. Begin and go around the circle.


Student 1 – ‘She’s Lonely Laura and she likes limes. I’m Fit Frank and I fry fish.’

Student 2 – ‘He’s Fit Frank and he fries fish. I’m Courageous Caroline and I cuddle cats.’

There will be a few laughs, particularly if people have been especially creative or the participants know each other.  When everyone has spoken, you can point to a few different students and ask the group ‘who’s this?’

2. Questions Time

Put student into groups of 3. They will take it in turn to be interviewed. Students A and B  use the introductory sentence Student C gave to form their first questions.

What, when, where, which, who, why, how, how long, how many

The must ask each person a minimum of 5 questions, using different question words.

Put examples on board.

‘Why are you lonely? How long have you liked limes? What do you do with the limes? Where do you buy your limes?’ etc.

Their answers do not have to be true. Tell them to be imaginative!

Students take notes of the answers, and will later present one of their group to the whole class.

You might want to go from group to group, offering some corrections and vocabulary when needed, or you may wish to stand back and make note of errors you hear coming from the different groups to discuss later . The focus is not on perfect grammar. The aim is for students to relax and get to know each other, but it is also an opportunity to demonstrate from the very beginning what you expect from students in your lessons. Some may be used to pair/ group work, free-speaking activities and peer correction, but others may have been taught in a more teacher-centred environment. In that case, it might take a while for them to get used to a new style of teaching.

You might want to tell students they have to keep the conversation going until you shout Stop.  I sometimes meet first semester university students who approach a language task as they would a maths problem. I have to explain that the object of the pair discussion was not to reach a consensus within 30 seconds, but rather to practice speaking English for 3 minutes.

3. Present their partner

Once enough time has been spent on the interviews, students should agree on who each will introduce. They should spend a few minutes writing their introduction and then exchange texts among the group, with the other group members offering feedback and suggestions for improvement.

Students then present their partner, using their text as they would presentation notes, they can refer to it but should not read it verbatim. You can later collect the texts for correction if you wish. (With high level students, you may decide to skip the writing task.)

Follow up with: Present tenses review/ Question forms/ Adjectives of personality etc

Uses: Ideal for your first lesson.

Variations: You could adapt step one, the ‘name game’, to practise adjectives or a particular tense.

Brave Barbara loves beautiful bicycles. Punctual Peter loves purple pandas.

I’m Chris and I’m catching cats. I’m Tina and I’m thinking about tuna.

Dreamy Dani danced at the disco. Lovely Laura laughed at the lions.

You could also use it to practise reported speech, by having each student ‘report’ what the student before said.

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