Some might say they can define the whole nature of a relationship.
So how to facilitate student-student or teacher-students first impressions to be favourable and make sure it stands as a solid foundation for further positive rapport in the classes to come?
As part of classroom management, establishing rapport and dealing with different cultures and moods in the classroom are always a challenge.
One suggestion is to initiate every course with an ice breaker and keep stimulating students to create and strengthen a social bond between the whole class (teacher included) throughout the course.
This does not mean everyone has to become best friends, or even keep in touch outside the classroom.
What is key here is to promote rapport via respect of each other’s individuality – which can be fostered by simply having students not hearing, but truly listening to each other and civilly handling differences in the classroom.
Do not fret though, my friends. The games are here for you.
Today’s post is a very special ice breaker that not only has a social aspect to it, but can also help you to check language level placement. Making your life easier by killing two birds with one stone: do you like the sound of that? Me too.
Drama Game: Word Cloud– Ice Breaker
Language level: all
Aim: Create a social bond and check level placement
Material: Board, A4 paper
Timing: 10-15 min (depending on size of the group)
Draw a cloud almost as big as your whiteboard and write some words (names, places, occupations…) or numbers that reflect truths about you. However, don’t write sentences. Just leave all of those scattered pieces of information on the board for students to see once they enter the classroom.
Have the word cloud drawn beforehand, so that you don’t waste class time and also when students arrive they can be curious about what’s on the board.
Greet students and welcome them to their new English course.
Tell them that before starting, you should get to know each other and this is the chance they have to meet you.
Point out that on the board there are some pieces of information about you. However, you are not going to tell them what they are. THEY should ask you questions and the answers should be the words they see. They cannot use the words on the board, though.
E.g.: “What do you do?” is a valid question and the answer is on the board (teacher). Whereas “Who are Tania and Roberto?” is not a valid question. They could ask “What are your parents’ names?”, for example.
Write information on the board according to questions you expect students to know by now. Bear in mind their language level and age when thinking about what you will present them with. Also, make the range of information wide enough so that students have an idea of who you are and what you stand for.
Remember: you can only ask for what you have.
Students take turns asking questions while you answer ALL of them.
Cross out the words and numbers they ‘get it right’ from the board until they have guessed all of them.
After it is over, invite them to draw their own word clouds on an A4 sheet of paper. Give them a few minutes for that.
Depending on the size of the group, decide if you will ask every student to show their cloud and have the whole group play the game together or divide them in smaller groups. If you go for smaller groups, make sure you ask them to report information they found out about their colleagues with the rest of the class in the end.
This activity is multifaceted due to the fact that you are not only giving your students the opportunity to review vocabulary and structure they have previously learned, you are also creating a personal bond with them. All of this while you assess their use of language through question formation.
And it’s fun, of course!
There is nothing more terrifying than a cold audience.
That horrifying feeling of talking to students and getting….. NOTHING!
Or worse: getting nothing but complaints!
I can still remember – with shivers on my spine – a certain group I once had that no matter what I tried, they remained unsatisfied.
They would constantly complain about everything. And I mean EVERYTHING.
The class is too slow. Now it’s too fast. Your accent is too American. There are too many windows in this classroom… The list is endless.
I thought that they would never go for playing games in the classroom since they liked NOTHING about the course: and I was right.
But, as I am a terribly stubborn human being, I decided to insist on it anyway.
I remember the first time I proposed a game to them. They looked at me with a ‘what the hell’ face and, as I insisted, they did it in a very cranky way.
And so it went for the next month: me insisting on the games, they doing it out of obligation and ‘good will’.
I only kept doing it because, honestly, they would complain about anything anyway, so I decided to make the classes a little more lively, even if just for a few moments.
And you know what happened? They complained!
But this time, in English!
And that right there was my reward.
They might not have noticed at the time, but the games were actually helping them improve their fluency – and I could notice!
I just kept saying to myself, ‘They complaining in English now! In ENGLISH!!!!’
So one day I did something sneaky: I recorded the whole class.
Afterwards, I sent them the video via email and asked them to pay attention to how much L1 and how much English they were speaking. And that changed everything.
They still complained about the classroom, my accent, the textbook, the coordination, the duration of the class…………….. But they were happy they were speaking English.
That was one of the most difficult groups I’ve ever had, but of one thing I’m sure: there is nothing a very stubborn teacher who insists on getting their students to learn can’t do!