Good warm ups for English class are fun but not a complete waste of time. Below are some activities that work well for business English classes.
The Question Game
This is a great warm up for getting students to practice asking questions. Students sit in a circle or around a table. One student starts by saying the name of another student and asking that student a question. The student that was asked the question does not respond to the question. Instead, she says the name of another student and asks that person a question. Students continue asking each other questions. A student is out of the game if she cannot generate a question within five seconds. The game continues until only one student is left.
More difficult version: Students are restricted to asking only certain types of questions (“Have you ever questions,” second conditional questions, indirect questions, etc.).
Describe the Word to a Partner
The teacher writes vocabulary words on small pieces of paper. Students work in pairs. The pieces of paper are placed face down in front of the students. Student A starts by picking up a piece of paper and describing the word to Student B. Student B has to guess the word. Once the correct word is guessed, the students switch roles. The winners are the two students with the most correct guesses after 10 minutes.
More difficult version: Students have to guess abstract nouns, phrasal verbs, adjectives, and adverbs (words like “clever,” “determination,” “come up with,” etc.).
Describe the Picture to a Partner
Student A gets a picture. Student B takes out a blank sheet of paper and something to write with. Student A describes the picture to Student B, and Student B has to draw the picture. Student A cannot use gestures to describe the picture. Student B is allowed to ask questions about the picture. After five minutes, the class votes on whose drawing is the best and most resembles the picture.
More difficult version: For advanced students, difficult-to-describe images can be used.