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CAE Ice-Breaker UPDATE

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This is an updated version of my CAE/C1 ice-breaking activity for the first class of a course. Click this link to the prezi (you’ll only need the first 5 slides).

Obviously it’s tailored to my interests but you’ll get the idea and be able to adapt to your own.

First I flash up the sentences with the adjective/verb + preposition combination (petrified of) etc. and tell them that some are true and some are false. They have to decide which are true and which are false in pairs. Award points to the pairs who guess correctly.
Then test them on the prepositions by flashing up the slide with them omitted. Then they have to write 4 sentences using the same combinations, some true some false and read them to their partner, who has to guess which are T/F.
Then the next bit is 6 sentences with some nice phrases about personal interests etc. “I’m into….” etc. I show them my examples (they’re all true) and let them ask me some questions. Then they have to complete the sentences so they’re true for them.
Then they have to mingle around the class reading their sentences to each other, flash up the expressions for showing interest: Uh-huh, mm-hmmm etc. and encourage them to use them. Tell them that they should try to remember as much information as they can about their classmates. While they do this, monitor and board any emergent language to look at later.
After 10 mins or so have them sit down and split them into two teams. Select one member from the first team, the other team then has to remember as much as they can about that person:
“He’s into football and rugby.”
“He has a burning ambition to meet Messi.” etc.
Award 1 point for each correct bit of info. The idea is that they’re recycling the 6 expressions over and over and getting to know each other at the same time.
Posted in Conversation Classes, Ice-breakers

Icebreaker: Show me a picture of…

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Thanks to Nicky Hockly at The Consultants-e for the inspiration for this lesson plan. It’s an icebreaking lesson in which students can use their mobiles (shock horror) for intermediate levels and up.


In a new class students are always keen to learn a bit about their new teacher and if you’re willing to share and personalise your classes the students will reciprocate with you and each other. So start by projecting some photos of things from your life on to the board with some sentence stems for deduction.

Intermediate levels:

He/she/it could/might/may be his girlfriend (possibility)

He/she/it must be his brother (almost certain)

He/she/it can’t be his sister (impossible)

Higher levels:

I’d say that…

I’d hazard a guess that…

I bet you €X that’s his brother.

I (don’t) reckon that…

I’m absolutely certain that…

There’s no doubt in my mind that…

There’s a good/strong/slim chance that…

I could be wrong but I think…

Drill sentence stress and intonation. Then put students in pairs and show them some of the pictures. Monitor them as they make guesses about who the people in the pictures are and have students share their deductions with the class. Award points for correct guesses.

Here are some example pictures from my life:

Other useful language:

You look just like (your mum)

You don’t look anything like (your sister)

You are the spitting image of (your Dad) (you look exactly the same)

You take after (your Dad) – you look/act the same.

Step 2: Pair work

Put students in groups of 2/3 and tell them to take out their phones and go to their photo albums. They must then take it in turns to show their group a picture of the following things:

  • A parent
  • A grandparent
  • A pet
  • A very close friend
  • An activity you love
  • A great meal
  • A fantastic day
  • An amazing view
  • A selfie

The others in the group must use the language of deduction to guess what the picture is and then they can ask questions to discover more information about their partner.

You might want to model some questions on the board:

When was the photo taken?

How long ago did you take this photo?

Where were you when you took the photo?

What does your Dad do?

How long have you been …ing?

Language for reactions:

Wow! That looks amazing/lovely/gorgeous

No way! Me too!

Your Dad works in finance? No way, mine does too!

That must be (amazing/fantastic etc.) – present event/state

That must have been (amazing/fantastic/so much fun) – past experience


Give SS 10-15 minutes to talk, encourage the use of the vocabulary, award points to groups using the most.

Students then report back to the class about the favourite photo their classmates showed them. If you can, project the photos onto the board so the whole class can see them.

Follow up/Homework

Story behind the picture. SS write a composition (150-200 words) telling the story behind one specific picture. Encourage them to copy paste the picture at the top of the page. This is a good opportunity to practice narrative tenses: “I had been walking all day, that’s why I look a bit tired in the photo.” “The sun was shining, the wind was blowing in the trees” “It was the scariest thing I have ever done.” “I was walking down the street when I saw a…”

Posted in Conversation Classes, Exam Preparation Class, Games

CAE First Class – Ice Breakers

Here are some ice breaking activities for a first class with a CAE group.The idea is to get students talking and also to recycle and refresh some grammar and vocabulary that they should have covered in the FCE.

You’ll need this prezi:

Part 1

For the first activity you need to come up with 10 sentences using adjective + preposition combinations. My example is the first slide of the prezi:

1. I’m petrified of heights.
2. I’m brilliant at football.
3. I’m interested in studying German.
4. I’m proud of English cuisine.
5. I’m dreadful at cooking.
6. I’m pessimistic about my football team’s chances.
7. I’m famous for making a delicious Spanish omelet.
8. I’m fond of basketball and rugby.
9. I’m dissatisfied with my team’s 1-1 draw at the weekend.
10. I’m allergic to walnuts.

Dictate the 10 sentences, have your students write them down, then project them or write them on the board. Tell students that five of the sentences are true and five are false. Put the student in pairs and have them discuss the sentences, they can ask you questions to try and catch you in a lie. After about 5 minutes tell students to come to a decision about which are true/false and explain their reasons: “We don’t reckon you’re interested in studying German because….” the team with the most correct answers wins. Use the opportunity to share some information about yourself with your students.

Now tell students that you want them to do the same. Show the second slide of the prezi with other adjective preposition combinations:

accustomed to
addicted to
annoyed with/at sb
annoyed about st
anxious about
ashamed of
awful/dreadful/rubbish at
brilliant/amazing/excellent at
capable of
crazy about
content with
curious about
dissatisfied with
delighted about
experienced in
fed up with
envious of
furious about
fond of
puzzled by
suspicious of

terrified/petrified of
upset about
worried about

Students can use any of these or the ones you used in your 10. Clear up any of the vocabulary and then give students 5 minutes to come up with their 10.

Students read out their 10 sentences to their partner and discuss them trying to guess which are true and which are false. Focus should be on repetition of the adjective + prep but also allow them to chat freely to get to know each other. Change partners and repeat as many times as you like.

Go round the class and have students share any surprising things they discovered, or any of their false sentences that fooled their classmates.

The next slide can be used at the end of the class as a recap of the prepositions from your original ten sentences.

1. I’m petrified __ heights.
2. I’m brilliant __ football.
3. I’m interested __ studying German.
4. I’m proud __ English cuisine.
5. I’m dreadful __ cooking.
6. I’m pessimistic __ my football team’s chances.
7. I’m famous __ making a delicious Spanish omelet.
8. I’m fond __ basketball and rugby.
9. I’m dissatisfied __ my team’s 1-1 draw at the weekend.
10. I’m allergic __ walnuts.

Part 2

This is my take on another classic ice breaker. Project the next slide onto the board:

1. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why? (I’d choose….)
2. Make 2 wishes, 1 present wish and 1 past.
I wish I had brown hair.
I wish I was shorter.
I wish I had studied Spanish at school.
I wish I hadn’t stayed up so late last night.
Explain your wishes
3. Where would you rather go on holiday, the beach or the mountains? Why? (I’d rather go to…)
4. What’s your earliest memory?
5. If you could relive one day in your life which day would you choose and why? (I’d…..)
6. If the weather had been better at the weekend, what would you have done? (I would have…)

Again you might need to tailor the questions a bit. Put students in pairs and have them ask and answer all 6 questions, but first tell them that they have to remember all of the information that their partner tells them. The idea is to get students using the complete grammatical structures so remind them that they have to ask each other the complete questions (not just say “what about number 2”) and give complete answers (I have included the sentence stems). Tell students that they have 10 minutes to ask and answer all of the questions to every person in the class and that they need to remember all the information.

When the 10 minutes is up, split the class into two teams. Ask for a volunteer from team 1 to come to the front of the class and sit in the hot seat, team 2 then have to remember all of that volunteer’s answers to the 6 questions, they receive 1 point for each answer they remember correctly. Remind them to use the complete grammatical structures, this way they are recycled multiple times. Then team 1 has to remember a member of team 2’s answers. Repeat until everyone has been in the hot seat.

By the end of the class you will have hopefully learned all your student’s names, a bit about them and refreshed some grammar and vocabulary.