This ice breaker works really well when you have new students joining an old class and can be used as a lively warmer to review personal questions and social language.

This game can be used at all levels from good elementary upwards. Its a walking warmer so you need a classroom with enough space to move around a bit.

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  • Write the words 'an old friend' on the board. Check the concept to make sure no-one believes this is an old person who is your friend.
  • Ask the students to imagine meeting an old friend in the street, someone they have not seen for a long time. Elicit what the first thing they would say would be, the kind of questions they might ask and any appropriate social language. Do this quickly and write the questions on the board, especially for lower levels.

    e.g. How are you? Long time no see! What are you doing here? How are your family? What do you do now? Do you live around here? etc.
  • Role play a conversation with a confident student. Act very pleased and surprised to see the student and there will be lots of laughter. Make up stories/ tell the truth (whichever is more interesting) about your family's health, wealth. new jobs etc.
  • Tell the students they are all old friends. They are going to imagine the classroom is a street where they will meet each other. Ask them to stand up and walk around the room. Explain that when you knock on the desk they will stop and talk to the student nearest to them.
  • Begin the activity and encourage students to move about a bit before knocking for the first time. Gather strays quickly into pairs if you have a big class. When volume decreases knock on the desk again and say 'Bye bye, got to go, see you soon, let's have that drink soon',  etc... and get them walking again.
  • Be warned, this activity gets very noisy. I usually repeat the stage of walking and knocking until the students have talked to three different people.