Have you ever asked a question to your English language class, only to be answered with complete silence and blank stares? At one point every English teacher has had the struggle of encouraging students to speak. Perhaps the student has a deep fear of making a mistake, or maybe the student is just plain shy, even in their native language. Whatever the reason, here is a list of a few fun activities to get your students to speak English!
*This list is for more advanced (B2+) students.
1. Who's Telling the Truth?
Have each student write three facts about themselves that nobody in the class knows on a piece of paper. Make sure each student includes his/her name on the top of the paper. Collect the sheets of paper and bring three students to the front of the room. Read aloud one of the facts that is true for one of the students in the front of the room. The class then proceeds to question the students in an attempt to determine who is telling the truth, and who is lying. Each student is allowed to ask one question to one of the three students. After a round of questioning, the students predict who is telling the truth.
2. Taboo Variations
Variation #1: Create a PowerPoint presentation with each slide containing a noun. Have one student come to the front of the room and sit with his/her back to the PowerPoint. The students in the class should take turns describing the words for the student in the front of the room to guess.
Variation #2: Separate the students into groups of 4/5. Place a pile of cards with random nouns in the center of the group. Have students take turns describing the nouns for their group members to guess. The group member who guesses correctly keeps the card in an attempt to have the most cards at the end of the game.
Variation #3 (Advanced speakers): Separate the class into two teams. Students are given a word to describe to their teammates, in addition to a list of words that they cannot use in their description. Each student should have 2-3 minutes to see how many words his/her teammates can guess.
3. Descriptive Drawing Activity
Pair up the students and give them each a picture face down. They must describe the picture for their partner to draw.
4. Comic Strip Descriptions
Give each student a portion of a comic strip. Without showing their pictures to one another, the students should attempt to describe their image, and put the comic strip into the correct order. After about ten minutes, the students can predict the order, show one another their portion, and see if they were correct!
5. "Secret" Word
Students are given a random topic, and a random word completely unrelated to the topic. The student must hide the word in their speech, without the other students in the class guessing their "secret" word. The other students in the class must listen carefully to the speech, in an attempt to discover the secret word.
Give each student a piece of paper with “agree” written on one side, and “disagree” on the other side. Read aloud a controversial statement, and have each students hold up his/her paper stating whether they agree or disagree. Choose one student from each side to explain his/her position and participate in a short debate.
7. Impromptu Speaking
Split the class into two teams, and use a list of impromptu speaking topics. Have each student choose a number, and respond to the statement without preparation. The student must continue speaking for 45 seconds when the teacher calls out "stop." As the student is speaking, the other team listens for any hesitation, grammatical mistakes or vocabulary mistakes. If the other team can correctly identify an error, they get a point.
This is a link for randomly generated conversation questions: http://www.teacherdiane.com/questions
8. Desert Island Activity
Give each student a piece of paper and tell him or her to draw an item. Any item. Tell the students that they have been stranded on a desert island, and only half of the class can survive and continue to inhabit the desert island. The student's goal is to convince the class that they should survive. The hard part is that the only thing they have is an item that was drawn a few minutes earlier by a classmate on the piece of paper.
9. Storytelling Activity
Bring four students to the front of the classroom. Three students should sit down in a row, and one of the students should stand behind them acting as a controller. The controller should have a stack of cards in his hand containing nouns. The controller will hand a noun to one of the three students who will start to tell a story. The student will continue telling the story until the controller decides to hand another noun to another student who will then take over the story.
10. Two Truths, One Lie
Each student should write three facts about themselves on a piece of paper. Two of the facts should be the truth, and one should be a lie. Students read aloud the facts, and give the other students a chance to question them and decide which statement is a lie.
11. True/False Storytelling
Give each student a piece of paper with either the word “true” or “false.” Each student should tell the class a story, and the class must guess whether the story is the truth, or a lie. To add to the activity, you can allow the other students to question the student telling the story.
12. I Have Never…
All students in the class should start holding five fingers in the air (this number can be adjusted depending on how many students are in the class). The student who begins the activity will tell the class one thing that he/she has NEVER done. The students who have done that activity should put a finger down, and tell the class a story about this activity.
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