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Breaking the ice with internationally diverse groups

Updated: Dec 14, 2021

The best #group #dynamics come when there is the right balance of #skills and #personalities but when you add #language #abilities, academic experiences and a wide range of #cultures to the mix, these aren't always easy to achieve. That's why it's essential to use the right #ice #breakers to create a relaxed and# inclusive learning environment right from the start.

Before you introduce your ice breaker, consider why you're doing it. Is it to wake everybody up or do you want to get people relaxed and communicating? Keep your expectations realistic. Students might not want to or be able to socialise especially if they don't know each other and are working in a #second #language.

Here are a few suggestions that might help culturally diverse groups.

1 You say it like this - Students create a name badge and explain why they have their name, what it means, how it's pronounced, what it means and whether they have a nickname (that they want people to know).

2 Find someone who ... - An old favourite but it can work well. Create a few statements and hand them out to the class. Eg Find someone who wants to be famous, has swum outside in winter, speaks three language, has been to Canada...adapt your ideas according to your group but don't make them too complicated.

3 Draw where you live - Students do a sketch/drawing of where they live (now or a place in the past) and describe it to their partner.

4 Line-up time! - Students may need to be in smaller groups for this but give them different scenarios so that they have to put themselves in the correct place in the line. Eg hometowns from A-Z, longest time they have lived abroad, the distance from their home to the nearest beach etc...

5 What's in the room? - Allow student some time to observe the room they're in (it can be the room they're in at home if online). What time did the session start? Who can they see and what is happening? Students can comment on who spoke to or greeted who, what the lecturer did/said on arrival. Is there anything different to a university room in their own country? Students will come up with their own personal observations.

6 The emoji game - Students choose 3 emojis on their phone and explain what they mean in their culture. Advise students not to choose the more common ones but ones that may have unclear/various meanings.

Let us know if you have your own ice breakers. We'd love to hear them.

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