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Warming Up 1

What does your name mean?

Using a dictionary, google or any other resource, students find and write down an appropriate adjective that begins with each letter of their first name.

Mixed-up question

It’s always good to start the class with a question. Write a good one on the board but mix up the word order, then challenge students to reconstruct the question and then discuss it in pairs or small groups. For example: most item you have the ever expensive what’s bought?

Mixed-up question (anagram variation)

Alternatively, write a question on the board but this time scramble the letters of each word. For example: tahw si ruyo seealirt rommey?

The A to Z game

Give students a theme, for example, jobs, things you take on holiday, food. Write the letters A to Z on the board. Teams of students must race to write an appropriate word next to each letter on the board. Read more about the A to Z game here.

Things to do with a potato

One of many brilliantly simple warm up ideas from one of my favourite teaching books. Produce a potato (if that’s not possible, introduce the concept of a potato). Ask students to come up with a list of as many unconventional uses for it as they can. For example paperweight, weapon, pen holder, smartphone dock. The longest list wins the potato.

Word Association

This must be one of the oldest ESL warm-up activities, but sometimes the simplest ideas turn out to be surprisingly effective and word games don’t get any simpler than word association. Give an initial word, for example, banana and each student takes it in turns to say a word which they associate with the previous word. If the connection isn’t obvious, challenge the student to justify their choice. banana – monkey – zoo – tourists – hotel – bible …

Tell a story

This is another circle game. Going around the class students take it in turns to add three words to your story stem. You could start it off with relatively mundane stems such as Yesterday I went …, If I won …, I have never or something more imaginative like, A wolf howled, the rocket landed …, Princess Martha kissed … Write the story on the board and elicit corrections as you go along.