Teacherless Activity #1: “Find Someone Who …” By Rick Kappra

Welcome to the first Teacherless Activity in this series.

One of my favorite activities has always been the old classic, “Find Someone Who …” When I taught in Japan it was my regular opening icebreaker activity. Almost every one of my classes started with Find Someone Who. I’d introduce myself, and then introduce the activity and get the students started talking to one another. It allowed students an immediate opportunity to get to know one another better, and allowed me some time to get to know them while giving us all an opportunity to get over our first day jitters. The feeling in the classroom was noticeably different from the beginning of the activity to the end.

Unfortunately, in my level 1 class, I could not do Find Someone Who. For those unfamiliar with the activity, students are given a list of incomplete sentences and need to find someone who does what is stated – i.e., likes fish. But in order to do the activity, students must be able to form a question, and understand the vocabulary in the statement. Beginning level students can do neither. But, because it was and still is, my all time favorite activity, I eventually found a way to adapt Find Someone Who to level 1.

Certain topics allow this activity to be done without students having to ask questions. They can simply find someone by looking around the room. Of course, they have to be familiar with the vocabulary, but that is where the teacher does come in (we do teach some language). The teacherless part of the activity is allowing students a fun way to practice the vocabulary. Typically, I use Find Someone Who with clothing (find someone who… is wearing a white shirt, etc.), physical descriptions, (find someone who… is tall) and when practicing a uniform question formation – i.e., job skills (…can use a cash register), or family (has a brother, has a sister, etc.) In addition to being a great icebreaker for higher levels, Find Someone Who can also be a great way to get beginners up and interacting with their classmates while practicing new vocabulary or simple questions.

 This is an example of a Find Someone Who … that I’d use as a first day activity in a class where students already spoke some English and could reasonably form some kind of a question.

(Permission to copy and reproduce these activities for classroom use is granted by ALTA English Publishers, Inc. ©2014)


Find Someone Who Handout

While none of these versions could be used as a first day icebreaker in a true beginning class, these versions of Find Someone Who … could be used to review vocabulary, simple questions, or as a final review at the end of the semester. Several versions of Find Someone Who … such as these are included in Out & About, both the Student Book and the Teacher Resource Book.

Various Topics

Specific Topics

Specialized Topics

Find Someone Who… (Variation)

This is a variation Amy Hemmert introduced to me. It works great with high beginners and is a wonderful way to produce a student-centered version of Find Someone Who ... This version (with instructions) is included in Out & About Teacherless Activities Teacher Resource Book.


Find Someone Who Variation 2

(Permission to copy and reproduce these activities for classroom use is granted by ALTA English Publishers, Inc. ©2014)

Looking for more activities like these?
Try Out & About: An Interactive Course in Beginning English. The textbook is based on the philosophy that students learn by doing. Teacher talk is minimized and student involvement is maximized. And charge-up your lessons with the Out & About Teacher Resource Book. Ideal for beginning English classes it’s packed with teacherless activities covering introductions, classroom items, dates/days of the week, jobs, families, household chores, shopping, dealing with money, getting around town, making appointments, the weather/seasons, transportation, and more.

Rick-KappraRick Kappra has been teaching English as a Second language since 1983, beginning as a volunteer working with refugees in Philadelphia. He has taught in Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Korea. Currently he is an ESL instructor at City College of San Francisco, where he is also the Civic Center Campus ESL Coordinator. His goal as an instructor is to create more opportunities for students to engage with one another in fun, meaningful exchanges. Finding that most ESL textbooks did not provide enough opportunities for interaction led him to co-author Out & About with Amy Hemmert. Rick and Amy also co-authored Out & About Photocopiable Resources for Teachers – one of ALTA’s best-selling resources for beginning ESL classes. 

Images: www.stockfreeimages.com and Rick Kappra. Text edited by ALTA English.

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