Speed Date Warm-Up

Levels: strong pre-intermediate to advanced.
Ages: teens; adults.
Type: speed-date style conversations; “breaking the ice”.
Skills: listening; speaking.
Language focus: vocabulary – ways of introducing yourself/ turn-taking; informal spoken English vocab as it arises.

these questionnaires (one for each student);
enough classroom space to make two circles of chairs.


  1. Give out the speed-date questionnaire (see above).
  2. Ask students on their own to read through the questions, crossing out any they don’t like.
  3. Put the students in groups of three or four. Ask them to tell each other about the questions they most want to ask and to think of at least three more questions they’d like to ask members of the other groups.
  4. Ask students to arrange their chairs in two circles: one facing inwards and a smaller circle facing outwards. If possible, an equal number of students should be in each circle; otherwise, two students could pair up, and work as one for this activity.
  5. Explain that the students will have exactly three minutes to try and find out as much about the person facing them as they can. After that, the students in the inner circle have to move one space to their right.
  6. Monitor the activity, taking note both of good and problematic language used, and repeat the three-minute talks followed by moving seats until every member of the inner circle has spoken to every member of the outer circle. You could alternate moves if you like, so that the inner circle moves one space to their right, then the outer circle moves one to their right, etc.
  7. Put students back into their original groups and ask them to compare notes – what were the most interesting things they learned about the other students they spoke to?
  8. Whilst the students are doing this, write up ten or so sentences on the board, perhaps five to be corrected and five sound sentences (but don’t indicate which ones need to be changed). Number these sentences 1 – 10.
  9. Ask each group to choose a team name (perhaps the name of an animal they all like), explain that you’ve written (for example) ten sentences on the board and that five should be changed in some way. Allow the groups four minutes or so to read through the sentences and decide which ones should be changed, and how.
  10. When the groups are ready, call out a number, and elicit whether the sentence is good or needs correction (and, if so, what should be changed). Discuss and explain any difficult language points or confusions that arise, and award a point to the first team to answer correctly in each case. Add up the points at the end and award a small prize to the winners (maybe some paperclips, or a sweet each).

Now you’ve warmed the students up and (hopefully) created a strong class bond, it’s time to begin coursebook work, etc.

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