Telling a Story, ESL style

what's your story?

In almost all general, 4-skills ESL textbooks such as Smart Choice or World Link , there are usually pages with discussion starters that involve telling a story of some kind, often in the unit related to the past verb tenses. A big problem with telling stories in class is that most students will not do a very good job of it if they are given no time to prepare. And an activity that could be very useful for generating some interesting conversation and discussion can be over in only a couple of minutes. A better way is to give the…

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ESL Speaking Tests: 3 Options

speaking test ESL students

There are various ways for language teachers to do ESL speaking tests, all of which have their positives and negatives. I will give only the most basic of overviews of three different speaking test methods for English as a Second Language students, but if you want to dive deeper into the topic, I recommend this book: Language Assessment: Principles and Classroom Practices (2nd Edition). 1-1 interviews with the teacher This method is generally thought to have the highest validity, since weaker students cannot affect the stronger students in any way. However, I think there are more negatives than positives: The…

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Speaking Activities that Don’t Suck

Speaking Activities That Don't Suck

Speaking Activities That Don’t Suck: Foolproof Ways to Force Your EFL Students to Produce Enormous Amounts of English is one of the best resources out there for ESL teachers looking to add some fresh, new speaking activities and games into their lesson plans. Unlike most of the more academic books out there, Speaking Activities that Don’t Suck is filled with practical, interesting and fun ideas that will have your students coming back for more. Very little in the way of preparation time is required and this book is basically just read and go.

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Describe Something Guessing Game

guess game

Describe something guessing game is a simple and easy warm-up game for your ESL speaking class that you can use to generate some interest in whatever topic you are studying that class. Make up a handout with pictures of objects or names of famous people (around 20 works well). Choose one and use it your example. Give some hints about that object or person such as, “He’s American,” “He’s black,” “He’s a sport player,” “He plays golf.” By this time, the students will have guessed Tiger Woods. They will then cross Tiger Woods off their list. Turn it over to…

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The “Expert” ESL Speaking Activity

expert activity

This is a fun English as a Second language conversation activity for intermediate or advanced level students. Have the students write down 5 things that they are an expert in. I do my own list first by way of example. I’m an expert in: Scuba Diving Budget travel Canada Reality TV Gardening Once the students have written their lists, get them to circle the 3 that they think will be most interesting to the other students in the class. Next, divide them up into pairs and give them 5 or 6 minutes to ask some questions to their partner about things…

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120-90-60 ESL Speaking Fluency Activity

fluent speaking

If you want to help your students speak more quickly and fluently, this is the perfect ESL speaking fluency activity for you. Give your students a topic that they know a lot about. For example: good or bad points about their school, university, or hometown. I often give 1/2 the students one topic and the other 1/2 another just to make it a bit more interesting to listen to. Give your students 1-5 minutes to prepare, depending on their level. But, emphasize that they should just write one-two words for each point, and not full sentences because it is actually…

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