ESL Icebreaker: What's in a Name?
- Level: ESL High-Intermediate
- Objectives: help students introduce themselves to each other; establish relaxed group atmosphere; ease conversation in a newly-formed culturally-diverse group; review common North American names and their origins
- Teacher Notes:
- Mention that first names come from many sources. While some first names are traditional (Peter, Mary, Paul), children are often chosen their names for different reasons: months of the year or seasons in which they were born, heroes, historical figures, famous people, characters from movies etc. or after their family members.
- In pairs or small groups ask students to think of names that are inspired by people, places or things:
Names inspired by:
- flowers: Iris, Rose, Jasmine
precious stones: Pearl, Jade, Ruby
birds: Robin, Avis, Wren
musicians: Bob (for Bob Dylan), Elton (for Elton John), Elvis (for Elvis Presley)
colors: Scarlett, Hazel, Emerald
character trait: Joyce (cheerful), Justin (just), Victoria (victorious)
- Tell your class a few facts about your first name: how common/popular it is (or it was when you were born), its origin, meaning, etc. - anything that you’re comfortable with or might spark student interest.
- Put students in pairs. Distribute the handout. Students answer questions 1-10 related to their first name. They then interview their partner and take brief notes about his or her name. Partners introduce each other to the rest of the class telling 1-2 most interesting facts along with the name.
- Student Handout:
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