I’m sure you want your ESL speaking classes to be as awesome as possible. Everybody does! Here are my top 81 tips to help you do that. Ready for great classes in the future? Because that’s what you’re going to get if you follow these tips!
1.What’s your Target Language? Be clear about the aims of your lesson. “Practicing speaking” isn’t enough. Something more specific like, “Introduce and practice 5 feeling words,” or “Practice using the simple past in conversation” is much better.
2.Change Speaking Partners Often– It’s boring to talk to the same person all the time! Avoid it as much as possible.
3.Set the Context- Students need to learn new vocab or grammar in context, so give them a real-life situation where they could actually use it. It’ll make your lesson way more memorable.
4.Start Class off on the Right Foot- This is something I seriously struggle with, but perhaps I’ve picked up a few tips along the way. More details in a post over at My Life! Teaching in a Korean University.
5.Teach Students How to Ask Question- Take some off the pressure off yourself to always be carrying the conversation. Check out this video: Teaching Students to Ask Questions.
6.Pause Often- Give students ample thinking time. It might take them a while to process and produce something in a language that’s not their own.
7.Do some task-based learning projects. More details about task-based learning in this post.
8.Join this Facebook group if you teach preschool kids: ESL/EFL Preschool Teachers.
9.Go Student Centered Style- It’s better for you and also for the students. Everyone wins! Check out: Making your ESL Classes Student Centered on YouTube.
10.Big Picture First- Give students the big overview before you get into the finer points.
11.Play the Odd One Out Warm-Up Game– It’s perfect for introducing just about any topic.
12.Use Role-Plays-They’re fun, student-centered and can help build some confidence in your students. I talk about using role-plays in this short video.
13.Get this book: 39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities: For Kids (7+)
14.Review Vocabulary- This will help out your students a lot because you need to hear a word many, many times before you can actively recall and use it. Here’s one of my favorite vocab review games.
15.Play a Warm-Up Game-How about Just a Minute?
16.Have a Routine- Perfect for children and useful for adults too! More details about having a routine in this post.
17.Get 40+ ESL games and activities, delivered straight to your inbox.
18.Be Patient-I once had a Korean teacher who would only give me about 1/4 second before just answering the question herself. It was so frustrating! Silence is okay. Be patient and wait for students to answer.
19.Give some Feedback-Your students will love it that you’re actually helping them get better at English speaking. Whenever I’ve done surveys, many of my students have listed this as their #1 expectation of me.
20.Use the textbook- You don’t always need to reinvent the wheel. There’s likely lots of good stuff in the book that you can use in class.
21.Play some Board Game- This is one of my favorite things to do in ESL speaking class. They’re guaranteed to get your students engaged, active and having fun in English class. I talk about board games for ESL students in this short video.
22.Use Google Drive- It’ll make your life way easier if you can recycle things from year to year. Something like an “intro” game can be used again, and again, and again.
23.Show and Tell– It’s not just for kids! Everyone can do it.
24.Practice Small Talk with Your Students- Here’s my favorite ESL Small Talk Activity.
25.Provide a demonstration of the language- Students learn best by seeing and then doing.
26.Review often- It’s better that students know a few things well than a million things not really at all. Review lots and help them out.
27.Be Serious Sometimes- Your speaking classes don’t always need to be fun. Learning English is difficult! Resist the temptation to be an edutainer.
28.Play Never Have I Ever- It’s not just a drinking game!
29.Join this Facebook group: Resources for English Teachers.
30.Use Graded Language- Remember to adapt your language in terms of how fast you speak, the vocab you use as well as how difficult your grammar is so that the students will be able to understand you.
31.Incorporate some public speaking into your classes. It’s a useful life skill! Check out: How to Teach Public Speaking and Presentations.
32.Make Instructions Clear-Use ICQs (instruction checking questions).
33.Start with an Awesome Lesson Plan- 2 Lesson plans for advanced level adult students.
34.Focus on Communication- If students can get their message across and be understood, they’ve accomplished something.
35.Get this book: 39 ESL Warm-Ups: For Teenagers and Adults.
36.Use CCQ’s (concept checking questions).
37.Don’t Correct All Errors- Students will get frustrated and you will too. Instead, focus on those that involve the target language for that lesson.
38.Engage Apathetic Students- My top 5 tips here.
39.Follow me on Twitter- @Bolen_Jackie
40.Focus on Fluency as well as Accuracy- Have some activities where the goal is to simply speak quickly and not worry too much about making mistakes.
41.Correct Errors as a Class- Instead of singling someone out, you can say at the end of an activity, “I heard someone say XYZ, but it should have been ABC.”
42.Don’t Expect Miracles- Sure, you can help the students but don’t beat yourself up if they’re not making massive progress especially if you have a big class that you only see for an hour or two a week.
44.Praise Liberally- Students respond well to positive reinforcement.
45.Follow this board on Pinterest: Teaching ESL.
47.Make a Lesson Plan- Use this ESL lesson planning template.
48.Have your Students do a Presentation-Fun for you, useful for the students. Presentation Project Ideas.
49.Use Surveys- They are one of the best ways to get your students up out of their seats and talking to their classmates.
50.Play Charades-It’s a classic one for a reason!
51.Remind Students of Who/What/When/Why/Where/how- They’re really useful in conversation!
52.Get this book: 39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities: For Teenagers and Adults
53.Use Flashcards- For kids, flashcards are pure gold in terms of what you can do with them.
54.Practice Pronunciation- Use this fun game!
55.Incorporate listening and reading into your class. It’s all tied together and you can’t really become fluent in speaking without a grounding in the other stuff.
56.Give Students Thinking Time-It’ll make that discussion time even better.
57.Rock-Scissor-Paper- Kids love it and you can also turn it into a fun ESL Speaking Activity.
58.Help Students Get to Know Each Other- Use the “My World” introduction activity.
59.Encourage Respect- When you’re talking, everyone is listening. Same with another student.
60.Follow this board on Pinterest: ESL Speaking Games, Activities and Resources.
61.Encourage Students-It’s hard to speak in English! Praise even small efforts.
62.Attend a Conference- Learn a few new tips and tricks from experienced teachers.
63.Have some Fun with Can/Can’t. Play this guessing game.
64.Do the CELTA- Learn how to teach so you can feel more confident in the classroom.
65.Read How to Teach Speaking– By Jeremy Harmer, it’s a classic for those new to teaching ESL.
66.Use Toilet Paper in Your Class. Here’s how.
67.Teach your Students about Relative Clauses- Here’s a fun game you can play to practice them.
68.Be Kind-Never make fun of students for the mistakes they make.
69.Learn a Language Yourself-Remember what it’s like to be be in the student’s shoes.
70.Encourage Risk-Taking-You can’t learn a language without making plenty of mistakes.
71.Like ESL Speaking on Facebook: all kinds of ideas for your ESL speaking classes.
72.Maintain a Positive Atmosphere- Don’t let students make fun of other students for their poor English ability in your class.
73.Follow this board on Pinterest: ESL Speaking for Children.
74.Make it Student-Directed- Let them have a say in the topics you study.
75.Smaller Groups and Pairs is Best- Maximize student talking time by generally avoiding discussions with the entire class.
76.Sing a Song- One of my favorites is “If I Had a Million Dollars.”
77.Teach Formal and Informal Speaking- Students will need to know both, depending on the circumstance so point this out, if relevant.
78.Use the “Do You Like to ____?” activity.
79.Don’t Interrupt- If students are doing an activity with a small group or partner, just observe but don’t get involved in the conversation.
80.Draw a Picture- It’s a classic ESL speaking activity.
81.Use Kindness- If students are speaking in the L1, kindly remind them to speak in English and they usually will. Getting angry won’t help you.
I hope your ESL speaking classes are even more awesome! Please leave your #1 down in the comments below.