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Ice Breaker Games for International Students

By: Anthony Stringer BA (hons) - Updated: 23 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Ice Breaker Games For International Students

The increase in international students over the last ten years has helped teachers and lecturers create many effective lesson plans. Ice breakers have become a fundamental part of teaching and they can be essential for progression.

A common mistake when conducting an ice breaker game for foreign students is using the same techniques and activities you use for your home students. You need to consider your students previous educational background and the learning techniques they are used to. Concentrate on making the ice breaker game clear and simple. If the ice breaker is too complicated your international students will loose focus, which will in turn cause set back’s.

So, the main aspects to consider when planning ice breaker games for international students are – simplicity, engage students, encourage interaction and above all make it enjoyable. Here are a few effective ice breaker games for international students:


Firstly, print out some bingo cards with random words on each square (each card should be different). Then, print out the words separately and place them into a container (box, hat etc). Get the students to sit down and then hand out one card to each student. You will stand at the front of the class and act as ‘caller’. One at a time remove a word from the container and call it out (you can show the word to the class to make it easier). The students can then tick off each word on their card. When someone ticks off all words they stand up and shout bingo and are crowned the winner. Bingo is a game known around the world and should be familiar with many of your students. If not the rules are easy to explain. Bingo is a flexible game and can be adjusted to your preferences, for instance, you could pull out pictures of animals or places and have the words of the pictures on the cards, this acts as a good word association game.

Word Jigsaw

This is a very simple game that will get your international students interacting, working together and learning. Print out or write on a large piece of paper (the bigger the better) a sentence or short story and then cut up into a jigsaw – try to cut some of the words in half so students have to put the correct words together. Place the jigsaw on the floor or on a large table and give your international students a certain amount of time to construct the jigsaw. This simple ice breaker encompasses student interaction, group learning and lots of fun.

Copy the Cat

This is a really fun and enjoyable ice breaker game that will relax your international students and ease them into the rest of your lesson plan. Get the students to form a circle in the middle of a room or outside. One student is then made to leave the room briefly – this student becomes ‘detective’. While the individual is out of the room the rest of the group elect a ‘leader’ for everyone to copy. Once you have elected a leader ask the student back into the room and to stand in the centre of the circle. The game then begins with everyone performing the same motion, such as jumping up and down. Then after 20 or 30 seconds of this motion the leader changes motions and the rest of the group copy. The detective has to work out who the leader is. Once the detective uncovers the leader repeat the scenario with the next student. This activity should get the whole group laughing and enjoying themselves.

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