Speaking Activities for ESL Students

speaking

Most people find their way here searching for something related to ESL Speaking, so here’s the goods for you. My top 10 list of favorite ESL Speaking Games and Activities, all personally classroom tried and tested. Enjoy! Plans are also in the works for a book of No-Prep/ Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities and Games. Be the first to know by signing up here, as well as getting even more ESL activities and games delivered straight to your inbox. Only the goods-not all the junk like those other sites. Free: Classroom Tried and Tested ESL Games and Activities * indicates required…

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Preventing Partner Fossilization in ESL Speaking Classes

dinosaur fossil

In the ESL world, fossilization is what happens when an error that a language learner makes becomes permanent, and cannot be fixed, no matter what further forms of input or error correction that learner is exposed to. I use this term to apply to ESL Speaking classes and what happens when students sit with the same person every single day and talk to only that one person. They basically become fossils, unable to move, or break away to find a new partner. Fossilization of language learning partners is bad for a lot of reasons including: That poor person who gets…

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My World ESL Speaking Activity

earth

This is an excellent activity that you can do on the first day of class to introduce yourself and then have the students get to know one or two of their classmates. You start by drawing a big circle on the whiteboard with the title, “My World.” Inside the circle there are various words, pictures or numbers that have some meaning to you. For example, inside my circle there might be 1979, blue, 37, a picture of 2 cats, and a mountain. The students would then have to make some guesses about why these things are special to me. The…

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ESL Speaking Lesson Plan

lesson plan

Free: 40 of my favorite ESL games and activities, delivered straight to your inbox. Lesson planning made easy. Email Address ESL Speaking Lesson Plan: People Don’t Know! Something that I’m always surprised by when I go to conferences and present on what I think is pretty basic stuff that any ESL teacher should know, or talk to newbie English teachers in a more informal way is the lack of framework for conducting an ESL lesson. By framework, I mean a system that you have either on paper, or in your head for how you go about planning a lesson. I…

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Ice breaker Speaking Activity

icebreaker

Skills: Speaking/ Listening Time: 10-30 minutes Level: Beginner-Advanced Materials Required: nothing A way that you can get your students to remember names (and you too!) is to do this simple ice breaker speaking activity. Go around the class, and have students say, “My name is ______and I like _______.” The next student repeats the previous ones, and adds their own. it goes on until it finally gets to you and you can impress the students with your memorization abilities! It works best for smaller classes of less than 10. For more advanced students, you can choose something more difficult than…

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Rocks Scissor Paper ESL Speaking Game

rock scissor paper

Skills: Reading/ Speaking/ Listening Time: 20 minutes Level: Beginner-Intermediate Materials Required: Question/Answer papers (~5/student) Make up strips of paper with questions and answers (on separate papers). Give each student 5 random papers, a mix of both questions and answers. They have to walk around the class finding their “match.” Once they do, they can rock scissor paper and the winner takes both papers. The students with the most points at the end of the allotted time are the winners. This is the perfect game to do for review in basic conversation classes before the midterm or final exam. Free: 40…

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A Relative Clause Speaking Activity which is Fabulously Fun

barrack obama

If you’re studying about relative clauses (who, which, that), and want to lighten up the mood a bit you can use this “Who or What is it?” relative clause speaking activity. My students always love it. Here’s how to do it: Make a list of things or people and cut them up into little pieces and put them in an envelope (here’s my very Korea-centric who/what list). Put the students in groups of 4 and the first person has to choose a paper at random and keep it secret. Then, they give hints about it, preferably using relative clauses or…

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Can/Can’t ESL Game

can can't

A fun ESL speaking, listening and writing game for children or adults that you can play to help your students learn can/can’t is the following: Put the students in teams of 2, 3, or 4 depending on how big your classes are. They have to pick 1 animal, and 1 thing, but must keep it a secret from the other teams My 2 examples often are: Animal: Giraffe It can eat leaves It can’t live in Korea outside of a zoo It can see easily over tall things Thing: Air Conditioner I can see it now It can be bad…

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SOS Game: Speaking Review for ESL Students

SOS

I like to play the SOS game as a way to review whatever we studied in the previous class. For example, maybe the grammar point is countable/uncountable nouns and all the technical details surrounding it. It can get quite complicated, so it’s something I’d for sure want to review before moving on with new material. I’m sure you know the game S-O-S from when you were a kid. If you get three “S’s” in a row or three “O’s” in a row you draw a line through it and get a point. I’ve adapted this game to use as an…

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Draw a Picture While Someone Else is Talking

draw a picture

Skills: Speaking/Listening Time: 10 minutes Level: Beginner-Advanced Materials Required: Blank Paper Drawing a picture is a fun way to practice body parts or descriptive words (big, small, long, etc). The students sit back to back and one person is the “talker” and the other one is the “drawer.” The person talking describes something that they’re looking at to their partner (a face, body, city, etc) and that person draws what they hear. The results are usually hilarious! It’s perfect for a quick warm-up game, or time-filler.

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How to Teach Speaking

how to teach speaking

Most newbie teachers will primarily end up teaching speaking and conversation classes when they first head overseas to teach ESL so How to Teach Speaking  by Scott Thornbury will give you a leg up on the competition. Teaching speaking certainly involves a whole lot more than just “talking” with the students and Thornbury’s books does a great job of explaining that. How To Teach Speaking covers the theory, but also gives a wealth of practical advice and information that you can use in the classroom, along with ESL speaking games and activities that are easy to apply to your own…

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ESL Survey Activity

Esl survey

ESL Survey Activity-The perfect way to get your students out of their seats and speaking in English. Skills: Speaking/Listening/Writing/Reading Time Required: 15-30 Minutes Level: Beginner-Advanced Materials: a Survey Handout Give the students a sheet of paper with some questions and they need to find one of their classmates who fits each slot. For example: “Do you travel sometimes?” or, “Are you a university student?” Then, if their partner answers yes, they write down their name and ask them one more question to elicit an extra piece of information. You can review the 5 “W” + “H” questions if necessary before…

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World Link ESL Textbook

World Link ESL textbook

World Link An excellent choice for a general English conversation class for adults I used World Link for about 4 years at my old university and I can say with certainty that it is a really solid book. The units are interesting and engaging and are on the simpler side if you have lower-level, or multi-level classes. There just isn’t that much text on the page, which is something I appreciate in an ESL textbook. The supplementary teacher’s resource book was excellent and I used almost every single activity in it, so make sure you get that as well. While…

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20 Questions ESL Speaking Game

twenty questions

Skills: Speaking/Listening Time: 20 minutes Level: Beginner-advanced Materials Required: Nothing This is a “20 questions” style game, based on whatever you’re studying (Animals/Jobs, etc). In groups, the students ask the teacher a yes/no question. After the teacher gives the answer, the students can have one chance to guess the secret thing. Play a few rounds and the team with the most points is the winner. You can also have students take turns being the one with the “secret.” It’s an excellent way for students to practice asking questions in English. If you have a very large class, divide the students…

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