- Keywords: Self introduction, mixer activity
- Learner English level: False beginner/ low intermediate upward
- Learner maturity: Junior high school and above
- Preparation time: 15 minutes
- Activity time: 10-40 minutes
- Materials: Handouts
The first class of a new term is a traditional venue for introductions, “find someone who” games, and other mixer type activities. However, many students fall back on the standard “self-introduction” kind of speaking. Standard utterances about family members, favorite sports, and club activities are offered up with little, if any, attempt at elaboration. It is rare for students to offer anything beyond these generic factoids about themselves. The following activity can be used to break the ice, get students thinking about the way they present themselves in English, and go beyond the habitual responses.
Step 1: Prepare a worksheet with space at the top for students to write their own interesting information. Below this is a table with two columns, headed ‘name’ and ‘information’ respectively.
Step 2: (Optional) Prepare a prompt sheet with your own information with some untrue statements mixed in. Examples of the kinds of sentences could be things like, “My father and I have the same birthday.” “I have two pet ferrets.” “I have a brother with the same first name.” (true for this teacher) and so on.
Step 1: Introduce the concept of “interesting information”. Ask the students, “Who has a sibling?” The students answer with a show of hands. Next, ask who is a twin. If you’re lucky, one of the students will raise his or her hand. This would count as interesting information. Brainstorm some similar interesting possibilities. (Unusual pet, large number of siblings, rare hobby, etc). Explain that a fact that is the same for many students in the class is not so interesting, but a fact that is only true for one person in the room is much more interesting.
Step 2: (Optional) If students need help in thinking, you can help them by sharing your own interesting information. The students have to read the sentences on the prompt sheet and decide if the statements are true for the teacher. Ask students to discuss and then to show ‘true’ or ‘false’ by a show of hands.
Step 3: Next, hand out the worksheet. Students write their interesting information. The students then engage in a mixer activity where they find out about each other and write down the interesting information. The teacher should monitor all students to head off bland, generic statements, such as “I like sushi” or fantastical statements like “I have never been to the moon.” (You’d be surprised what some students will come up with!)
Step 4: After most students have talked to one another, get the students, either in groups or individually, to nominate the most interesting person they talked to. Get them to say the name of the student and why they are interesting. Keep a tally on the board to see who is the most interesting student. Make your table with less than enough space for all students (i.e., in a class with 20 students, make your sheet with 15 rows); this will be a face-saving device for anyone who does not get any votes: they didn’t speak to everyone, rather than no one found them interesting.
This activity gets students up and moving and the repetition of names combined with individualized information in Step 4 definitely helped this teacher get off to a good start in remembering the students’ names and keeping track of who was who.