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ESL Icebreaker Game for High School: Impromptu Speaking

Impromptu Speaking is a dynamic and educational icebreaker game, particularly well-suited for high school ESL (English as a Second Language) students.

This activity challenges students to think on their feet and speak spontaneously on a given topic, making it an excellent tool for developing public speaking skills and fostering confidence in language use.

impromptu speaking icebreaker esl

ESL Icebreaker – Impromptu Speaking

We have loads of icebreaker games here on the site for all ages, you can check out the full list for adults on the link directly below but we also have icebreakers for kindergarten, primary and high school here which you can check out as well.

(Of course you can adapt all of them for your classrooms and students as needed)

How to Play

  • Game Setup: Prepare a collection of topics or prompts written on slips of paper and place them in a hat or a bowl. Topics can range from simple, everyday themes to more thought-provoking or abstract ideas.
  • Basic Rules: Students take turns drawing a topic from the hat and then speak on that topic for a set time, usually one minute. This requires them to organize their thoughts quickly and express themselves coherently in English.
  • Game Variations: To adjust the difficulty level or add variety, vary the speaking time, introduce specific vocabulary or grammar structures that must be used, or allow brief preparation time before speaking.

Educational Benefits

  • Enhances Spontaneous Speaking Skills: Students practice forming and articulating thoughts in English without prior preparation, essential for real-life language proficiency.
  • Boosts Confidence in Public Speaking: Regular practice in a supportive environment helps reduce anxiety associated with speaking in front of others.
  • Improves Language Fluency and Coherence: Students learn to connect ideas and speak more fluidly, enhancing overall language fluency.
  • Encourages Creative and Critical Thinking: Coming up with ideas and opinions on various topics fosters both creative and critical thinking skills.

Resources Needed

  • Topics or Prompts: A range of topics written on slips of paper.
  • A Hat or Bowl: For holding the topic slips.
  • Timer: To keep track of speaking time.

Playtime Guidelines

  • Duration: Each speaking turn can last from one to two minutes, with the total game time depending on class size. Typically, 20-30 minutes is sufficient for a class of 15-20 students.
  • Pace: Maintain a brisk pace to keep the energy high and ensure all students have a chance to participate.
  • Group Size: Adaptable for any class size. Larger classes can be divided into smaller groups, with each group conducting their own round of impromptu speaking.

Adapting to Different Learning Levels

  • For Beginners: Choose simpler topics and allow some preparation time. Encourage the use of basic language structures and vocabulary.
  • For Intermediate Students: Introduce more complex topics and reduce preparation time, encouraging students to use a wider range of vocabulary and more complex sentences.
  • For Advanced Students: Challenge students with abstract or nuanced topics, and focus on the use of advanced language structures, idiomatic expressions, and fluent delivery.


Impromptu Speaking is an invaluable activity for high school ESL students, combining the development of linguistic skills with the excitement and challenge of spontaneous speech.

It not only enhances students’ language abilities but also prepares them for real-world communication where thinking and responding quickly are often required.

By incorporating this game into the ESL curriculum, teachers can significantly boost their students’ confidence and competence in using the English language.

I have been a teacher of English for over 15 years, in that time i made hundreds and thousands of resources and learnt so much i think its worth sharing. Hopefully to help teachers and parents around the world.

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