Group Therapy | A Fun Icebreaker for ESL Students

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ESL Icebreaker Activity for Adults

Check out this ESL Icebreaker

Skills: Speaking/listening
Materials Required: None

Group therapy is a fun icebreaker for ESL students. It’s not kid-friendly though! In the style of an AA meeting, students sit in a circle if possible and introduce themselves, “My name is _____, and I’m _____.” Instead of finishing with “. . . and I’m an alcoholic,” finish with a problem they have learning English, such as using articles correctly or conjugating verbs. They should then solicit tips and tricks from their classmates.

The teacher should begin by modelling and could give an actual problem they have as a language student. For example, “My name is Jennifer, and I’m never sure how formal or polite to be when speaking Korean to someone I don’t know well. Does anyone have any advice for me?”

Teaching Tip for Group Therapy:

This is a great first day activity, because it is a not-very-sneaky way to get an idea of what areas of language the students perceive to be more difficult, which you can use to inform your lesson planning for the semester.

Procedure for Group Therapy:

1. Before class, arrange the desks in a circle, if possible. If the class is very large, divide students into several large groups.

2. Begin by telling your students that everyone has trouble learning languages, and even those who speak several languages fluently have difficulty with some aspect of any language they learn.

3. Introduce the lesson as “therapy” for them to get counselling for their troubles.

4. Begin with your own example of a problem you have with a foreign language you speak. For example, “My name is Jennifer, and I’m never sure how formal or polite to be when speaking Korean to someone I don’t know well. Does anyone have any advice for me?”

5. Go around the circle and give each student a turn to introduce themselves, “My name is _____, and I’m _____.” Instead of finishing with “. . . and I’m an alcoholic,” finish with a problem they have learning English, such as using articles correctly or conjugating verbs. They should then solicit tips and tricks from their classmates.

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39 ESL Icebreakers: For Teenagers and Adults

ESL icebreakers

Have your Say about this Icebreaker for ESL Students

What are some of your go-to icebreakers for the ESL classroom? Leave a comment below and share your tips with us please.

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4 Comments

  1. Very nice idea having the teacher give an example about her/himself! I live in China, so I it’s quite easy for me to think of personal examples of difficulties with Chinese. I like how this icebreakers shows students that they’re not alone with their language learning problems, and the advice helps the students support each other. I’ll try this idea today. Thanks!

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