120-90-60 ESL Speaking Fluency Activity | Speaking English Fluently

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All of our students want to speak more fluently in English! It can be difficult to help your students with this though because most of the activities you’ll find in textbooks focus more on accuracy.

Teachers are more comfortable fixing accuracy mistakes as well. After all, it’s easier to pick out wrong grammar or vocabulary choices than telling a student to just “talk faster!”

Here’s one ESL speaking fluency activity that you can try out in your classes. It’ll help get your students speaking more quickly, but with a bit of the familiar. They’ll be speaking more quickly, using a topic they’ve already spoken about. Here’s how it works.

ESL Speaking Fluency Activity: 120-90-60

If you want to help your students speak more quickly and fluently, this is the perfect ESL speaking fluency activity for you. It’s more of an activity for intermediate to advanced students because beginners will find it a struggle to speak in English for a full two minutes without stopping. They also are at the stage of focusing on saying anything, as opposed to saying it quickly!

Students have to talk about a topic for 120 seconds. The next time, they have to include all the same information but cover it in 90 seconds. The third time, the same information but in 60 seconds. It’s challenging but also really fun! It’s amazing to see who can actually do it.

Here’s How You Set Up 120-90-60

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. Advanced students will need less time than intermediate ones. For the best students, I’ll get them to just think “in their heads” and write nothing down on paper. This makes it a bit more challenging for them.

Emphasize that your students should just write one-two words for each point, and not full sentences because it is actually a speaking activity and not a writing one. The most important point is to NOT write full sentences.

I’ll often show an example of what I expect to my students.

Hometown: Good & Bad Points:

  • Introduction
  • Good (parks, restaurants, my family)
  • Bad (traffic, no university, pollution)

This is the outline from which they’ll talk for 120 seconds, then 90, then 60.

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The Talking Part of 120-90-60

Then, with a partner, the first student has to give their speech and talk continuously for 120 seconds while their partner listens. I use an online stopwatch so that the students can see the countdown. Then, I give the students another 2 more minutes and they switch roles.

After that, the students have to find a new partner and the activity repeats, except they have to include ALL the same information as before, just in 90 seconds. Then, switch again, and 60 more seconds. For lower level students, you can adjust the times to make them shorter.

An Optional Add-On

To make this ESL speaking fluency activity a bit more interactive, you can require that the listener asks 2-3 questions after listening. This gives the students a reason to listen, which is always a good thing!

Need More ESL Speaking Fluency Activities?

If you liked 120-90-60, then you’re probably going to love this book: 39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities for Teenagers and Adults. It’ll make your lesson planning easier, guaranteed.

Many of the activities focus on speaking fluency, while others focus on accuracy. There is a nice mix and your students will love the variety in your English speaking lessons. The detailed instructions will show you exactly how to implement the activities easily into your classes.

If you’re really busy, or just out of fresh ideas, then you’ll need to check out the book for yourself on Amazon. It’s available in digital and print formats. The (very cheap!) digital copy can be read on any device by downloading the free Kindle reading app.

Get it today:


Is there an Audio Version?

If you prefer to listen to your books, then I have some good news for you. You can find 39 ESL activities in audiobook form on iTunes, Audible or Amazon.

The even better news is that you can listen to the book for free on Audible when you sign up for an account. You get a free book, so why not make it this one, right?

It’s easier than ever to get some inspiration for your ESL classes when cleaning your house, exercising, or when on the go.

Learn more here: 39 ESL Speaking Activities Audiobook.


Practice speaking English more fluently with this activity

Have your Say about this ESL Speaking Activity

What are your thoughts on this ESL activity that focuses on fluency? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

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