Daily Schedule ESL Speaking Activity
Time: 10-20 minutes
Level: Beginner to Low-intermediate
Materials Required: Nothing
It seems that in most beginner ESL speaking or 4-skills textbooks there is a unit on daily schedules, such as, “What time do you get up?” or, “What do you do in the afternoon?” A fun activity that you can do is to have students interview their partner. You can pre-select questions for lower level classes or let the students choose their own questions for higher levels. Make sure you specify a minimum number of questions if you let the students choose their own. Have the students jot down a few notes as they go. Then, they have to close their notebooks, and in a group of four, they have to explain their partner’s daily schedule to the other pair in their group. The other group can ask a question or two to the person whose schedule was talked about. You can put some example questions on the board to help your beginner students with this.
This is an excellent activity to turn a boring topic into something that isn’t so terrible. Being able to talk about daily schedules is quite an important thing for our learners to be able to do, so ignore the temptation to just skip it when you come to it in your book.
I usually give students a set amount of time to interview their partner such as 3 minutes x 2 = 6 minutes. So each person has to ask questions for three entire minutes and then answer questions for the same amount of time. I emphasize that if the three minutes is not up, they can think of another 1-2 questions to ask. After the first three minutes, I’ll say, “Stop, change” so that students don’t have to keep track of the time themselves (they probably won’t).
While reported speech is kind of a higher level concept, you can introduce it briefly in this activity and provide some concrete examples for students to follow. This happens when two teams join together and are reporting what they learned about their partner to the other pair. For example, “Jen said that she _____,” or “Tim told me that he _____.”
For beginner level students, you will need to be very explicit about the kinds of questions and answers they could use and make sure they access to examples of them, either in the textbook or on the whiteboard.
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Assign the task to the students, specifying if they must ask questions that you’ve prepared for them, or if they make their own and how many question.
Put students in pairs and they can interview their partner about their daily schedule, taking brief notes.
Students switch interviewer/interviewee roles.
Put each pair with another pair.
Student A introduces student B to the other pair. The other pair has a chance to ask some follow-up questions.
Continue until all four student’s daily schedules have been introduced.