This activity, which has worked wonderfully for me as a GTKY activity with students from Pre-Intermediate upwards, is aimed at helping you and your students learn and remember each others’ names. It also endows each member of the class with an “identity” from day one. All you’ll need is an object that can be tossed among students without causing injury: a ball or plush toy would do the trick, but I usually use a scrunched-up piece of paper.
First, do a whole-class brainstorm of adjectives for describing people, writing them on the board as they are called out. Encourage positive personality adjectives to keep things light, and steer clear of appearance adjectives. You may need to suggest a few items of your own if you are teaching a low-level class. Drill and concept-check where necessary (but remember that this isn’t a vocabulary lesson).
Next, stand in a circle with your students. Demonstrate the activity by pointing to yourself and calling out your first name and an adjective to describe yourself with the same first letter or initial consonant sound, e.g. “Modest Matt.” Get the students to repeat this, then toss the ball to a student; that student then announces their chosen adjective and first name to the circle, the other students repeat what they’ve heard, and the ball is passed to another student, and so on until the ball returns to you.
At this point, pass the ball back to the student who tossed it to you, saying their adjective and first name. That student then tosses the ball to the student who had previously tossed it to them, repeating the latter student’s name and adjective, and so on until the ball finally comes back to you.
There’s nothing groundbreaking about this activity: all I’ve really done is combine two common icebreakers. But it’s a simple technique for building rapport and a sense of community in your classroom, especially if you keep using the adjective-name combinations when addressing students throughout the course. People like to feel acknowledged as more than just a face in the crowd.