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Great Icebreaker Games For High School Students.

Engaging high school students in ESL (English as a Second Language) classrooms can be both a challenge and an opportunity. Icebreaker games are a fantastic way to break down barriers, inject energy into lessons, and foster an environment conducive to language learning.

These games not only warm up the class but also encourage students to practice English in a relaxed and enjoyable setting.

Below is a compilation of great icebreaker games perfect for high school students, each designed to enhance language skills and classroom camaraderie.

Great Icebreaker Games For High School Students.

ESL Icebreaker Games for High School Students

We have 12 great icebreaker games for High School Students in the list below, though of course they can be used for any classroom with a little adaptation.

We have a link to a page for each game so you can copy/paste or download the full instructions and description just click the image on each one to get there.

We hope these icebreaker games are useful to you don’t forget to check out our other icebreakers for adults, primary and secondary school as well. You can see them in the list right below.

Game 1: Two Truths and a Lie – Advanced Version

  • Description: This classic game gets an advanced twist for high school students. Each student thinks of two truths and one lie about themselves, incorporating complex statements or cultural references.
  • Benefits: It’s a great exercise for creative thinking and narrative skills. It also serves as an opportunity for students to share unique aspects of their lives, fostering a deeper classroom connection.
  • Playing Time: 15-20 minutes.

Game 2: The Yes/No Game

  • Description: A fun and challenging game where students must answer questions without using the words ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ This game can be played in small groups or as a whole class, with a variety of question types ranging from simple to complex.
  • Benefits: This game sharpens students’ listening and speaking skills, enhances quick thinking, and encourages them to use a broader vocabulary range.
  • Playing Time: 10-15 minutes.

Game 3: Story Circle

  • Description: Each student contributes a sentence to build a story. This version for high schoolers can involve more complex storylines, incorporating various tenses and advanced vocabulary.
  • Benefits: It enhances students’ creative writing and listening skills. The collective aspect of building a story also promotes teamwork and a sense of collective achievement.
  • Playing Time: 20-25 minutes.

Game 4: Cultural Exchange Bingo

  • Description: Similar to traditional bingo, but the squares contain different cultural experiences, practices, or languages. Students walk around and interact with their peers to complete their bingo card.
  • Benefits: This game is excellent for promoting cultural awareness and encourages students to engage in conversations, enhancing their social and language skills.
  • Playing Time: 15-20 minutes.

Game 5: Pictionary with a Twist

  • Description: Classic Pictionary, where students draw phrases or idioms instead of single words. This can be played in teams, with each team trying to guess what is being drawn.
  • Benefits: This game is fantastic for understanding and using idiomatic expressions, fostering teamwork, and encouraging creative thinking.
  • Playing Time: 20-30 minutes.

Game 6: Role-Play Scenarios

  • Description: Students act out more complex and varied scenarios, such as social situations, historical events, or literary scenes. This can be done in pairs or small groups.
  • Benefits: Role-playing enhances conversational language skills, empathy, and understanding of diverse contexts. It’s also a safe space for students to practice speaking without the fear of making mistakes.
  • Playing Time: 20-30 minutes.

Game 7: Word Association Chain

  • Description: A fast-paced game where students sit in a circle. One student says a word, and the next must say a word that begins with the last letter of the previous word. The chain continues, challenging students to think quickly.
  • Benefits: Enhances vocabulary and associative thinking. It’s also a great way to start a class and energize students.
  • Playing Time: 10-15 minutes.

Game 8: Interview Time

  • Description: Students pair up and interview each other. They can use a set of pre-determined questions or come up with their own. Afterward, each student introduces their partner to the rest of the class.
  • Benefits: This game practices a wide range of language skills, including question formation, listening, and public speaking. It also helps students learn about each other, fostering a community feeling in the classroom.
  • Playing Time: 20-30 minutes.

Game 9: Human Bingo

  • Description: Bingo cards are filled with various traits or experiences (e.g., “has visited another country”). Students mingle to find classmates who match the descriptions on their card.
  • Benefits: A great icebreaker for new classes, it encourages students to move around, ask questions, and engage in conversations. It’s also adaptable to include language-specific criteria.
  • Playing Time: 15-20 minutes.

Game 10: Mystery Word

  • Description: One student thinks of a word related to a theme, and the others ask up to 20 yes/no questions to guess it. This game can be played in small groups or as a whole class.
  • Benefits: Encourages logical thinking, question formation, and is a fun, interactive way to use language skills.
  • Playing Time: 15-20 minutes.

Game 11: Silent Line-Up

  • Description: Challenge students to line up according to certain criteria (e.g., by birth month, height) without speaking. This requires non-verbal communication and cooperation.
  • Benefits: Promotes teamwork and understanding of non-verbal cues, which are important aspects of communication skills.
  • Playing Time: 10-15 minutes.

Game 12: Impromptu Speaking

  • Description: Students randomly pick a topic from a hat and speak about it for a minute. This can be structured with topics related to current lessons or left open for students to be creative.
  • Benefits: Enhances quick thinking, improvisation skills, and confidence in public speaking. It’s also a great way for teachers to assess students’ spontaneous language abilities.
  • Playing Time: 20-30 minutes, depending on class size.


Icebreaker games are invaluable tools in the high school ESL classroom. They not only make learning more enjoyable but also significantly contribute to the development of essential language and social skills.

By incorporating these activities into the curriculum, teachers can create a dynamic and inclusive learning environment where students feel more comfortable and engaged.

These games are a testament to the philosophy that effective learning is interactive, fun, and community-building.

What to do now?

As educators, the goal is to facilitate not just language learning but also the holistic development of students. These icebreaker games offer a way to achieve this in a manner that resonates with high school students. Try incorporating these games into your teaching and observe the transformation in your classroom dynamics and student engagement.


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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