Ice-breaker: Getting to know your partners

This is an activity to help collaborating partners get to know each other before beginning the other activities in the planned exchange. It involves some preliminary preparation of materials by the partner teachers (pictures of all the participants) and online chat facilities (all participants should have an account beforehand).

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Estimated Duration:

1 session






Telecollaborative Language Learning. A guidebook to moderating intercultural collaboration online. Bern: Peter Lang.

Language Configurations:

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Target Competences:

Specific pedagogical objectives:

Creation of a friendly, non-threatening atmosphere in the groups

Suggested Communication Tools:

Real time textchat

Suggested Resources:




The partner teachers collect pictures of all the students before beginning the exchange. Each class gets a copy of the pictures, labelled with false names (students can be asked for input on what names they want to have). The picture can be made into a collage and shown to the whole class with a projector so that it is present during the exchange.


Students are told that they have false names (they are given the names that have been assigned to their picture). The students then log onto the chat with their REAL names.

The students ask questions to their partners in order to try to match the pictures the fake names to the real names in order to create a second, more accurate collage.

Students should be given instructions on the type of questions they can ask. For instance, simply guessing the name should not be allowed (e.g. &#39 Are you Fatima?&#39 ). Examples might include &#39 Do you have long hair?&#39 &#39 Are you wearing a red sweater in your picture?&#39 . According to the level of the student, the teacher may wish to spend some time before the chat to help students think about and formulate their questions.

After the chats finish (this should be limited to 15 to 20 minutes) each class then tries to guess how the fake names match the real names by sharing information that they got during the chat. If time permits, the teachers can go online to confirm the names (using the projector to show the chat between the teachers to the classes).

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Criteria for Completion:

There is no evaluation of this activity because it is an ice-breaker. However, teachers may wish to emphasize the importance of participating as an essential part of successful online exchange. Attitudes towards participation may be noted and discussed.

Comments and suggestions: