The Three H’s: A Great ESL Icebreaker

Activities Discussion icebreaker
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This is a great icebreaker that I like to call the three H’s: Hometown, hobby, and hero. Whenever it is the first day of a new class and I’m stuck for an opening introduction exercise, I default to this one.

The Three H’s

The premise is simple. Divide students in groups of three to four or even pairs depending on the size and make-up of your class. Then write these three words on the board: Hometown, Hobby, HeroHometown esl questions


First talk about where they are from. What is their hometown famous for? How do they feel about their hometown? You can even give them a worksheet with further questions or prompts about crime, jobs, public transportation, etc. You can also write these on the board.Hobby esl questions


They then talk about their hobby. What is it? How long have they been doing it? What do they like about it? Are there any special tools or training needed for their hobby? Can anybody do it? Is it a singular pursuit or do they do it with friends or peers?

hero esl discussion questions


The talk about their hero can be expanded with the following prompts: Who is their hero? Why is he or she their hero? Would they like to be like their hero or do they think his or her level is unattainable? If their hero did something very brave or risked their life, you can ask what they think they would do in that same situation.

I recommend doing this class with groups of three or four as I said in the beginning of this article. You also may want to write some additional questions related to the “Three H’s” on the board to spur more discussion.

Depending on the level and creativity of your students you can leave it up to them to create the questions by having the students in the groups have to ask at least one additional question about the topic. You will be amazed at how creative they can get.

I often save these additional questions that the students make as I can always use them for prompts in another class. There is not much more to add to this exercise. Very simple yet so effective at getting conversations going either during the first day of class or when you just need something to talk about.

Extending the ESL conversation

Extending the Class

Before I finish up this page, I just wanted to offer the following expansion for this topic. The textbook I was using for one class had an extensive section on heroes. You can use this as a chance to begin a class discussion of what makes a hero.

  • How do you define the word “Hero?”
  • Do you know anybody who fits into the general definition of a hero?
  • Do you have to save a life to be considered a hero?
  • What types of jobs fall under the hero category?
  • Who is considered the greatest hero in your country’s history?

Just because I think music always helps. Here’s a nice video by the band Skillet called Hero. It’s a little noisy but the imagery may be nice to spur some discussion on what is a hero? They have quick shots of doctors, soldiers, and firefighters. That may help with some above questions. The best part is that it is a clean song. Nothing to bleep out.

Hero Skillet

Until next time I hope your class is great and the level of learning is greater. And always remember, Teaching English is Fun.


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