(I thought it might be helpful to readers and myself if I described some of my favorite activities from time to time. See all my ESL Activity Corner posts here.)
This is a nice warm-up activity that helps students get to know each other a bit better as we share how we see ourselves.
You split students into small groups of about four each, and each group has a group of “personality” cards. Students have quiet time to think about which personality card(s) best describe(s) them, and then share what and why with their small group. This can be as simple as outgoing vs. shy, to pictures of various animals, to Jung’s 12 architypes.
- Decide on a set of personality cards.
- Print out enough that you have one set for every four students in your class.
- Students work in groups of about 4. Give each group a set of cards.
- Students look together at the different cards. Each picks one to represent him/her.
- Students take turns holding up the card that best describes themselves and telling their group why.
In an intermediate class, the teacher should separate the class into groups and hand out five cards per group: lion, sheep, chameleon, robin, and goat.
Go through the cards as a class. What does a lion do? What about sheep? What kind of lizard is this, and what does it do? What kind of bird is this, and what does it do? What do goats do?
Their answers might differ – things like this are open to interpretation, and different cultures and individuals likely interpret them differently. This is part of what makes it an interesting conversation activity.
Model the activity. “I am looking at the cards. Which card is like me? Which card is similar to me? Here is the goat. Goats get into trouble. They jump over fences. They eat crazy things. They are always active. I am like the goat, in my mind. My brain jumps around like a goat. I think too much and I get in trouble like a goat.”
Give instructions. “Now, it’s your turn. Which animal are you? First, think. Then, tell your group. Tell them why. You have ten minutes.”
Circulate to make sure everyone understands and everyone participates.
- use different sets of cards depending on the level and interests of your students, and the content of your unit of study.
- personality vocabulary (outgoing, shy, thoughtful, etc.)
- colors (red, blue, gray, etc.)
- musical instruments (trumpet, erhu, bass drum, etc.)
- plants (cactus, rose, oak tree, etc.)
- animals from an area of the world being studied currently
- characters from a story you’re reading or a movie you watched as a class
- Jung’s 12 archetypes
- after students share within their own small groups, ask all students to re-group with others who chose the same card. For example, all the goats form one group. Students can compare why they chose that card – was it for the same reason or different reasons?
- reflective writing can either precede or follow this activity.
- follow this activity with a grid activity, in which students ask each other which card they chose and for one reason why. This in turn can be used for students to practice using reported speech.