Textbooks often don´t offer enough speaking practice.
If the book is good it gives you two speaking activities per unit and nothing more.
Then the teacher has to search high and low to find some more.
To make the search shorter, I share three speaking activities you can use to practise the past simple tense. In these activities, your students will use regular verbs, irregular verbs and questions in the past simple tense.(more…)
In this text I suggest a method of teaching speaking and I explain why it should be done in this way.
We live and teach in the communicative era. However, the textbooks offer very few speaking activities where students could practise the language they have learnt. That is why I decided to share several speaking activities with you.
<!– wp:more –>
In this post there are two speaking activities to practise describing a house using the phrases THERE IS/ARE, a simple communicative strategy that helps the learners speak more and a nice set of activities to practise the present simple tense.
Describing a house
To practise the phrases THERE IS/ARE I use the following two activities: Draw and describe and Find the difference.
For the Draw and Describe activity print the following worksheet. Each student needs a piece of paper with two houses (one sheet per student).
[su_button url=”https://engames.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/draw-and-describe-a-house.pdf” target=”blank” background=”#f56b68″ size=”6″]Draw and Describe worksheet[/su_button]
Students work on their own and draw between 10 and 15 things into their houses. Just remind them that they need to draw things they can name or describe.
Then students work in pairs. They mustn´t show their picture to their partner. They describe their house and the things they have drawn. Their partner listens and tries to draw the things into their empty house.
When they finish the students swap roles. In the end they compare their pictures.
The other activity is called Find the Difference. Print the following worksheet.
[su_button url=”https://engames.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Find-differences-houses.pdf” target=”blank” background=”#f56b68″ size=”6″]Find the Difference worksheet[/su_button]
Students work in pairs. Each gets one half of the worksheet. One has the part A and the other part B. Students mustn´t show their picture to their partner. They describe the pictures and they try to find as many differences as they can.
In the end they show their picture to their partner and they see whether they managed to find all the differences.
SA + EI
About three months ago I published my first book called 444 Grammar Conversations.There are nearly 500 questions to give students an opportunity to practise grammar in speaking.
However, it often happens that students ask and answer the questions, and they finish the conversation in a few seconds. To prevent this, I found the following communicative strategy: SA + EI.
It might sound scary, but it is really simple. If someone asks you a question, you give a short answer (SA) and some extra information (EI). And the student who asked the original question uses the extra information to ask another question.
A: Where do you live?
B: I live in Brno. It is a beautiful city.
A: What are the most beautiful places there?
B: I like Spilberk. It is a castle in the centre of the town.
Using this simple strategy, each conversation gets three times longer than before.
Here is a set of questions you could use for this activity:
a) Were you on the internet yesterday?
b) Did you watch TV yesterday?
c) What are you going to do this weekend?
d) Do you like school?
e) Did you learn English yesterday?
f) Who did you speak to yesterday?
Present simple tense – speaking
Print the following worksheet once and cut it. Place the 14 pieces around the classroom.
[su_button url=”https://engames.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/daily-routine-speaking-questions.pdf” target=”blank” background=”#f56b68″ size=”6″]Daily Routine speaking [/su_button]
Print the following text and give it one copy to each student. Tell them to walk around the classroom and find who each paragraph is about. They write the number at the end of the paragraph.
[su_button url=”https://engames.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Present-simple-third-person-ws.docx” target=”blank” background=”#f56b68″ size=”6″]Present simple text[/su_button]
The correct answers are 8,3,11,1,2.
Finish this part after about seven minutes. Tell the students to turn the paper. Give each student an uncut copy of the worksheet Daily Routine Speaking. Students now work on their own and they write a short paragraph about one of the series of pictures. Ask students to use at least two negative sentences, even though they are not necessary.
Students work in pairs. They read their description and their partner guesses who they are talking about. Students swap pairs at least three times.
In the last phase,students choose a series of pictures and just say what the person does every day and their partner must guess who they are talking about. In this part they speak without any preparation.
Speaking activities should be the core of the communicative approach. However, there are many textbooks that come with very few exercises to practise this skill. And then you have to create your own. To save your time and energy I will share four speaking activities that worked very well in my classes.
<!– wp:more –>
EFL Speaking Activities – Draw the Picture
The first activity is called Draw the Picture and I was really surprised how well it worked. I have used the picture before to teach the present continuous tense. But this time I covered some pictures with a white square and I put only the name of the person there.
[su_spacer][su_button url=”https://engames.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Present-continuous-speaking-picture.pdf” target=”blank” background=”#f56b68″ size=”6″]Present continuous speaking worksheet[/su_button] [su_spacer]
Seat the students in pairs and give one of them the worksheet A and the worksheet B to the other one. Students should ask about the people in the white squares and draw them into the picture.
Elicit the question: “What is …. (the name) … doing?”
One student asks and the other draws it into their picture. If you want to practise the vocabulary for clothes too, you could make the students ask the additional question: “What is …(the name)… wearing?”
Students take turns and they try to finish the picture.
This leads to a lot of speaking and communicating.
EFL Speaking Activities – Family tree
Print the following worksheet. The family tree with the words for the relatives should be printed on one side and the page without the words on the other.
Ask the students to complete the worksheet for their families. Help them if necessary. If the students do not have the relatives, they should make the names up.
Then students work in pairs and one of the students dictates the names to the other one. It is a great opportunity to practise spelling. Once they finish, they swap roles.
Having finished, students turn the worksheet and try to complete the family tree for their family again. Once they have completed it, they dictate the names and their relationship to their partner.
In this way students practise the family relationships perfectly.
EFL Speaking Activities – Where is my Sock?
Honestly, I am not very good at teaching very young learners. I cannot sing, I cannot dance and I cannot organise the games very well. That is why I hardly ever share any activities I create for the youngest.
However, sometimes a miracle happens and I create an activity that works very well and my students like it. And exactly this occurred last week.
The activity is called Where is my Sock. After learning the rhyme Where is my Sock? from the textbook Happy House 2 (unit 5) I handed out the following picture to everyone.
[su_spacer][su_button url=”https://engames.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Where-is-my-sock-house.pdf” target=”blank” background=”#f56b68″ size=”6″]Where is my Sock – house[/su_button] [su_spacer]
Then students worked in pairs and one of them got the pictures of a sock, a bag and a shoe.
[su_button url=”https://engames.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Happy-house-2-unit-5-socks.pdf” target=”blank” background=”#f56b68″ size=”6″]Where is my sock – things[/su_button] [su_spacer]
The pupil hid the things in one of the rooms and they asked: “Where is my sock?” And the other pupil had to find it by asking:
“Is it in the kitchen?”
“Is it in the bathroom?” etc.
Once the pupil found the objects, they swapped roles.
Students enjoyed the game and they practised the questions and the names of the rooms.
EFL Speaking Activities – Personal questions
Sometimes easy does it. This is one of the oldest and most used activities ever. The aim here is to practise the usage of the personal questions.
Print the following worksheet. Each student needs one. Ask the students to make up the personal details. Just ask them to include @ and dot in the email and keep the telephone number reasonably long (nine digits in the Czech Republic).
[su_spacer][su_button url=”https://engames.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Project-2-introduction-speaking.pdf” target=”blank” background=”#f56b68″ size=”6″]Personal informations[/su_button] [su_spacer]
Then elicit the questions and write them on the board if you are not sure that the students know them.
Put the students in pairs and ask them to ask the questions and complete the second column.
Delete the questions you are sure your students know well and put them into different pairs. Students ask the questions again and complete the third column.
This activity works very well in a class in which students know each other fairly well.
Recently I have spent quite a lot of time designing various speaking activities for my students. In this post I would like to share two speaking activities which help students practise the usage of the past continuous tense and of the modal verbs MUST, MUSTN´T and DON´T HAVE TO. I hope both of the activities will be useful.
<!– wp:more –>
Past continuous tense – game
In the first activity, students cut the following worksheet in two. Then they cut the activity cards.
[su_button url=”https://engames.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Past-continuous-speaking-worksheet.pdf” target=”blank” background=”#f56b68″ size=”6″]Past continuous tense – game worksheet[/su_button]
Students put six activity cards into the plan. Each activity goes into one square and they must not show their plan to anyone.
Then the students try to guess when the people were doing the activities. They ask in the following way:
A:Was Jane playing football?
B: Yes, she was.
A: Was she playing football at six o´clock?
B: No, she wasn´t. It is my turn.
Each student asks questions till their partner answers NO. Then they swap roles. The aim of each student is to guess all the activities and times in their partner´s plan. If a student guesses an activity and time, their partner removes the activity from their plan. The one who has no activities in their plan lost.
In my experience, students love this activity and it is a great way to practise the questions in the past continuous tense.
Modal verbs – board game
Print the following board game for your students and tell them to work in groups of three or four. Print the card with the correct answers too. Each group will need one set of the answers.
[su_button url=”https://engames.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Modal-verbs-board-game.pdf” target=”blank” background=”#f56b68″ size=”6″]Modal verbs board game[/su_button]
Here are the correct answers:
The rules of the game are simple. Each student has a counter and they throw a die. They move ahead. If they produce the sentence they land on correctly, they stay where they landed, if they don´t they move back to the Start.
Explain that the students have to produce sentences with the verbs MUST, MUSTN´T and DON´T HAVE TO only.
Speaking activities – Your Opinion
Which activity do you like better:
I have always wanted to be a writer. Ever since I was ten I dreamt of publishing a book. And on Saturday, thirty years later I did it. I published a book called 444 Grammar Conversations. This book is for teachers of English to have a set of questions they can use to practise a grammar point in a conversation. And in this post I would like to share with you ten speaking activities, you may find useful when using this book. All the following activities are based on a list of questions.
<!– wp:more –>
10 Speaking Activities
In the book 444 Grammar Conversations I mention the following activities:
a) The simplest speaking activity is, that you print the questions for everyone and students work in pairs and read the questions and answer them.
b) Write the questions just once for each pair and give the copy to one student in the pair. The student with the handout asks the questions and the other answers them.
c) Print one copy for each pair and cut it in half. Each student asks their questions and answers the questions their partner asks.
d) My favorite activity is called Clock speaking. Divide the questions into several sections and write a time instead of a number to each section. Tell the students to find a different partner for each section. Then say what time it is and students have to work with the partner they have arranged. They ask the questions and answer them.
Here you can see an example worksheet for the Clock Speaking activity:
e) Give each student a copy of the questions and ask them to choose 5 questions they like. Then they work in pairs and ask only the questions they chose.
And here, there are five more speaking activities fot the book 444 Grammar Conversations :
f) One student answers a question from the list and the other has to guess which question was answered.
g) Students work in pairs and one student asks and the other has to answer for a set time (e.g. 15 seconds). In this way, students are made to speak longer.
h) Students ask and answer the questions in pairs, but they can lie. The interviewer has to guess when the speaker is lying.
i) Give each student only two questions from the set. Each student has different questions. Students mingle and ask the questions they have on their slip of paper and they answer the questions the others ask.
j) Forbidden words: Students work in pairs and they ask and answer the questions but they must not use the words YES, NO and I don´t know. (Of course you can select other words).
What do you think of the book:
In this post, I would like to share four speaking activities that worked very well in my classes. There are two games to practise comparatives and superlatives and two activities to practise describing people.
Four speaking activities – Superlatives and comparatives
The first two activities help your students practise the usage of comparatives and superlatives.
The first one is a simple board game. Print the following board game.
Ask your students to find something that will serve as their counter. Give them a dice and tell them to throw the dice and move along the plan. If they land on a yellow or blue square, students have to read the question and answer it or complete the sentence. If they land on a pink square, they follow the arrow.
[su_button url=”https://engames.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Comparatives-and-superlatives-board-game.pdf” target=”blank” background=”#f56b68″ size=”6″]Superlatives and comparatives – board game pdf[/su_button]
If a group of students finishes early, ask them to play again.
The second speaking activity demands very little preparation. Dictate the following sentences to your students and ask them to finish them in any way they like.
- Who is the best _________?
- What is the worst ___________?
- What is better than _____________?
- What is worse than _______________?
- What is the best ________________?
Once they complete their questions, they work in pairs and read their questions to their partners. Their partner must answer in English.
It is really simple, but it works.
Four speaking activities – Describing people
Print the following worksheet. You will need one page for each student.
[su_button url=”https://engames.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Describe-a-person-Unit-6.pdf” target=”blank” background=”#f56b68″ size=”6″]Describing people – pdf worksheet[/su_button]
Students work in pairs. Give each student one sheet so that in their pairs they have two different sheets.
Students must not show their worksheet to their partner. Their task is to find out whether the men in their pictures are the same or different.
Students describe the men number 1 and decide if they are the same or different. They write down their decision on a piece of paper. They go on like this with the rest of the men.
For the second speaking activity the students need just one of the pages. They lay the paper in front of them. One of the students chooses a picture and the other one has to guess which man their partner is thinking of.
I hope that all the speaking activities will work for you.
Which speaking activity worked best for you?
Speaking activities are one of the most popular teaching activities. Students usually like them and they are very useful. However, there are not many speaking activities around. That is the reason why I created several dealing with present continuous tense.
In this post, you can find a worksheet with three different speaking activities to practise the present continuous tense. I have tried all the activities in my classes, and they worked very well.
Present continuous tense – speaking
Print the following worksheet and hand out the pages to your students. Make sure that students work in pairs and one of them has got the first page and the other the second one.
[su_button url=”https://engames.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Present-continuous-speaking.pdf” target=”blank” background=”#f56b68″ size=”6″]Present continuous speaking – worksheet[/su_button]
I usually start my lessons with the second activity – miming. I perform one of the actions and my students have to say what I am doing. Then I perform another and students have to choose from the list on the worksheet the correct sentence. Check that the students understand all the sentences in the section Miming.
Then students work in pairs. One of them performs one of the actions and the other tries to guess it. Once he/she guesses correctly, they swap roles. They go on like this till they perform all the actions or you stop them.
In the first activity, students first complete the questions using IS/ARE/AM. Check their questions and then they try to form the short answers. They form both the YES and NO answers. Again, check their answers.
Students read the questions and circle the answers that are true for them. Then they work in pairs and ask and answer the questions. When they finish this, they change partners. They should change partners at least twice.
The last activity is called War Ships. First, students work in pairs and dictate the underlined sentences to their partner. Demonstrate that they should read the question first and then dictate the sentence. The one who listens has to write the sentence on the line where the question is. Once they dictate all the questions and complete the free squares they cover their worksheet in such a way that their partner cannot see their grid.
In the grid, they colour 5 squares. They must colour only the answers – not the questions. Now, their task is to discover the squares their partner has coloured. They do so by reading the question and answer they think their partner has coloured. Their partner listens and if they hit the coloured square they admit it by saying HIT. If they miss, they say MISS. Students take turns. The winner is the one who finds the five squares before their partner does.
Present continuous test
As a bonus, I would like to offer a simple grammar test on the present continuous tense. It is simple and it tests the basic things about the present continuous tense.
[su_button url=”https://engames.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Present-continuous-speaking.pdf” target=”blank” background=”#f56b68″ size=”6″]Present continuous tense – test[/su_button]
The school year is starting and the summer holiday is over. Students are returning to their classrooms and we have to teach them. And I think that many of us would like to teach better than last year. So let’s start with a great speaking activity about the summer holiday.
The original idea comes from Larry Ferlazzo and you can find the original worksheet here. Larry was so kind to allow me to use his idea and worksheet and modify them. In this post you will find a video, a worksheet and instructions how to use them.
My Summer Holiday – video
Start with the following video. Ask the students to read, listen and repeat the sentences as instructed in the film. Play the video at least twice and do not worry if the students are not able to repeat some of the phrases in full. It is enough if they try.
My Summer Holiday – worksheet
You can find the original worksheet by Larry Ferlazzo here. Larry was so kind to allow me to change the worksheet and use it here.
My summer holiday worksheet
Print the worksheet so that the text is on one side and the colourful mind map is on the other.
Ask the students to complete the worksheet with their own ideas and experience. In some cases they can find several suitable expressions in the brackets but they can use their own words if they want to. There are several gaps with no help and students have to use their own words there.
Once students complete the worksheet, they work in pairs and read their version to their partner. When they finish, ask them to have a look at the mind map on the other side of the paper. Explain that the mind map sums up the whole text. Demonstrate that you can easily retell the text using the mind map.
Ask the students to work in pairs again and retell their Summer Holiday story. Change pairs and students retell their story again. Do not prevent students from looking at the original worksheet if they feel they need to. They will copy the phrases and thus learn them.
Now it is time to play the video again and the students should be able to remember much more than the previous time. Play the video at least twice in the following lessons.
Recently, in the post called Questions with Like, I asked you to choose the activity you would like me to write about. Most of you voted for a Speaking activity, so I prepared a set of speaking activities to practice the prepositions of place.
I have already created a post on prepositions, so this time there will be no infographics just two speaking activities. If you are looking for more speaking activities, you can find a two great speaking activities here.
Speaking activities – Battle
The first activity is called Battle and it was devised and recommended by K. Folse in his book The Art of Teaching Speaking.
First, print out the worksheet with 18 pictures. Each picture is different and they are labelled with letters A to R.
Ask students to work in groups of three. They should label themselves A, B, and C. Student A starts.
Student A will choose a room in the worksheet. Then students B and C will take turns asking yes – no questions to identify A´s room. For example, B asks: “Is the table in front of the sofa?” If student A answers “Yes, it is,” student B asks another question. He continues in this way till student B answers “No.” Then it is student´s C turn. Students go on like this till someone identifies the picture student A is thinking of.
After student B or C has guessed A´s room, student B chooses a room and students A and C try to guess it in the same way as they did with student A.
Students keep track of how many rooms they guessed correctly, and the winner is the one who guessed most.
Here is the worksheet students will use (it is enough to print out just one worksheet for each group.)
Speaking activities – Language needed
To be able to do the task above successfully, your students need to know the following vocabulary and grammar:
Vocabulary: plant, picture, lamp, table, cushion, plant, sofa, floor, wall, chair, ball and the prepositions of place (you find the materials to teach Prepositions of place here).
Grammar: to form question with is/are and the phrases There is / there are.
If your students do not know the language mentioned above, the speaking activity will not work!!!
Speaking activities – Drawing a Picture
First you need to print out the following worksheet once for each pair of students. They should cut it in the middle and each student should keep one sheet. (Now each student has two pictures with the room.)
Then, each student draws between 5 and 10 objects into one of his pictures. He or she has to draw objects they know the English words for. I personally ask my students to draw pieces of furniture we learn in the textbook unit.
Students sit with their backs to each other and one describes their picture for their partner, and the partners draws the objects into the picture he or she has not drawn into yet. When one student finishes they swap their roles and the other student describes their picture.
At the end the students compare their pictures.
Here is the worksheet:
To be able to print out the worksheets in the best possible quality, use the following pdf file:
Speaking activities – Language needed
To be able to do the task above successfully, your students need to know the following phrases:
Can you repeat that?
Tell me again.
Where does the …. go?
Speaking activities – Conclusion
I hope you will find both of the speaking activities useful and interesting, and that they will make it into your classroom. Both of the activities should ensure that your students will produce a lot of language and they will practice their knowledge of prepositions of place.
Speaking activities are the most important component of English courses using communicative approach. However, it is very difficult to find quality speaking activities that would work. That is why I would like to publish a speaking activity here once a week. All the activities will be based on the recommendations given by Keith S. Folse in his wonderful book The Art of Teaching Speaking.
In the first post I offer you two pair speaking activities using school subjects and the verb HAVE. Let’s start!
School subjects – language for the activity
To be able to complete the task successfully, students will need the following sets of language: the verb HAVE (or have got) and the names of the school subjects.
If you have not taught the school subjects yet, it is necessary to do so before you start the speaking activities. For the following tasks, your students need to know the following school subjects:
The other set of language your students need to know is the usage of the verb HAVE for questions like “What subject has she got on Monday?” or sentences like “She has chemistry on Monday at 11 o’clock.” You can find materials for teaching the verb HAVE GOT here. Once your students know the vocabulary and grammar you can move to the next part. Please, do not skip this step. Otherwise, your students might be either very quiet or use their native language to accomplish the tasks.
School subjects – speaking activities
In my experience students speak most when they work in pairs or groups of three. In bigger groups some students tend to dominate the task and some opt for not doing anything. That is why all of these tasks are designed for pairs or small groups.
The first activity is called Information gap. In this task students trade missing pieces of information to complete their sheet.
Information gap – in class
Put the students in pairs.
Hould up an example of the two sheets and explain that you’ll give each pair an A sheet and a B sheet.
Each sheet has a school timetable, but each sheet has only part of the timetable. Pairs need to work together to find out their missing information so that they end up with two complete and identical sheets.
Distribute the papers. Tell them not to look at each other’s papers. Let the students do the task.
Once they finish they can show each other the sheets and compare them.
Here are the two sheets:
Battle: Find it first – in class
In this task, students work in groups of three and they take turns asking yes/no questions to identify the picture that one student has in mind.
Print out one copy of the sheet (all 9 timetables) for each student.
Hold up one of the sheets and show everyone that the sheet contains nine timetables that are similar yet different. Students need to listen, think and then ask questions so that they can guess which picture the person is thinking about.
Put the students in groups of three.
Student A will pick a timetable and then students B and C will take turns asking yes/no questions to try to identify A’s timetable. B begins with a yes/no question. If A answers yes then B continues. If A answers no, then c asks a question. The goal is the to be the person who gets a yes answer to the a question such as, “Is it Jane’s timetable?”
After B or C has guessed A’s timetable, then A and C try to guess B’s timetable. Finally, A and B try to guess C’s timetable.
The winner is the student who guesses most timetables.
I hope that you find the School subjects – speaking activities useful and that you will use them in your classes. You can download the worksheets in pdf here. All the pictures are in much better quality here: