This free PowerPoint (PPT) from Twinkl is an excellent aid for English teachers of beginner students. Here is what you can get for your next classroom.
The PPT is called Five-minute Speaking Games by Twinkle, which is a great website where you can find resources for teaching, not just English but other subjects too. This particular PPT has a list of 30 short speaking games, of which the best ones for beginner to intermediate English students are discussed.
Table of Contents
How to Use the Random Game Generator
Alternatively, teachers can use the random game generator. Ask students which one they would want to play. Let’s say they select the purple square. When you click there, it opens ‘Odd One Out’. Put students in groups or in pairs to discuss which one is different and they have to explain why. You can put the students into groups and let them discuss it first, or put them in pairs.
After completing that game, return to the menu and select the next game. For example, in ‘Guess the Object,’ students have to guess what the object is in a range of categories. For instance, if the category is wild animals, they have to name wild animals, or superheroes and so on. The first student who can’t name one is out of the game.
The next game is ‘Word Stories’. Everybody in the class must add a sentence to the previous line and in this way create a story. This game is usually hilarious.
In ‘I Would Rather,’ students have to reply on a list of topics using “I would rather,” for example “I would rather eat worms than snails.”
Selected Speaking Games
The following are some suitable five-minute speaking games to incorporate as classroom activities for ESL beginners.
Students must close their eyes (or in the case of online teaching, turn their back to the camera/ screen). One student says ‘fish fingers’ in their silliest voice (sing a robot voice, saying it really high or low voice or singing it). The other students in the group have to guess who said ‘fish fingers’.
Let one student start a sentence with “I went to the shop and I bought…” and name an object, e.g. ‘a book’. The next student must remember that object and add their own, e.g. “I went to town and I bought a book and a pen and a pizza.” They continue with this to see how much they can stretch the list. As an extension let them make the list alphabetical, e.g. “I went to the shop and I bought an apple, a banana, a cake, and so on.” Alternatively, let them use the same initial letter, “I went to the shop and bought a pen, a pizza, potato chips, a pencil case…” and so on.
Count to 21:
The aim of the game is for students to count from 1 to 21, alternatively let them count down from 21 to 1, or from a number equal to the number of students in the class. The trick is that they count randomly and quickly, but if two students speak at the same time, they have to start again.
In this activity students must see who can say these tongue twister sentences that are hard to say very fast, for example: “These things here not these things here, but those things there. She sells sea shells by the seashore. Red lorry, yellow lorry. Copper-bottomed coffee pot. I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen. She sees cheese. Black background, brown background. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”
In ‘Shopping List’ the students have to make a shopping list together and try and remember what the previous student said. In ‘The Expert Nominator Student,’ students have to choose a topic and talk about it for 30 seconds. For example, talk about the ocean for 30 seconds; talk about Australian animals, or Olympic sports, famous singers, and so on.
In this game, click on the box to choose a category. The students must then try to find an object that fits that description and answer the following questions: What does your object look like? What can you do with it? Is it special? Why? Do you know where it’s from?
Two truths and a Lie:
Let students work in groups and write down three ‘facts’ about themselves – two things that are true, one thing that is a lie. As teacher first give students an example of two personal facts and one obvious lie, “I am a teacher. I am not married. I am Chinese.” They must then present their two facts and a lie and the other students may ask questions to determine what is the lie or simply guess.
What can you guess about me?
Students must use the topics provided to make sentences about classmates, asking questions before guessing the answer (e.g. “I think Ben has a pet hamster”). The topics are: Siblings (brothers and sisters), pets, hobbies, favourite food, sports, books.
The Two-minute Weekend:
Students can work in pairs, or as a group. One student (A) describes everything they did at the weekend as quickly as possible, and the other students (B) interrupt with questions to keep them talking. For example, if student A says ‘I ate breakfast’, student B might ask ‘What did you eat?’ or ‘What time did you have breakfast?’. If student A is still talking at the end of two minutes, student B is the winner.
Liar, liar, pants on fire:
Students have to ask and answer the questions on the list. The answer to the question has to be ‘Yes!’ even if this is a lie. The other students will ask follow-up questions to find out more, e.g. ‘When did you go there?’ If they think the student is telling a lie, they have to say ‘liar, liar, pants on fire’.
Nominated students have to tell a story about a selected picture. They can do this in pairs or in a group. They have objects like people hiking on a mountain, children kicking a ball in a park, diving with dolphins in the ocean, people on a beach, and people crossing a busy street in a city.
One student starts a story with just one sentence. The next student has to continue the story, starting their sentence with ‘fortunately’. The next student continues the story with a new sentence starting with ‘unfortunately’. Then, back to ‘fortunately’ and so on. For example:
One day, Bob woke up. Fortunately, it was a Sunday and he could stay in bed. Unfortunately, there was a storm outside and water was pouring in through his window. Fortunately, all he had to do was get up and close the window. Unfortunately, when he got up, he saw that there was a tiger next to the window! Fortunately…
In ‘The Expert’ the nominated student have to choose a topic and talk about it for 30 seconds as if he or she is an expert. If they can, they win and go to the next round. For example, talk about the ocean for 30 seconds; talk about Australian animals, or Olympic sports, famous singers, and so on.
Yes or No Game:
Students ask questions to a nominated classmate. The nominated student is not allowed to answer the questions with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ – they have to use other words instead. When they do use ‘yes’ or ‘no’, another student is chosen.
Students have to select five objects that they think will be best to take with if stranded on a deserted island for a year. Some of the ideas include a packet of matches, an ax, a compass, a tent, a sleeping bag, a warm jacket, a bucket, a fishing rod and tackle, a cell phone.
The PPT provides a list of riddles. Click on the block to reveal the answer to each. Here are some of the riddles, e.g. ‘what flies but has no wings?’ I guess it’s ‘time’. Okay, ‘what has a face but no arms or legs?’ A clock! ‘How many letters are there in ‘the alphabet’?’ Twenty-six, eight, or twelve? The others are: What occurs once in a minute, twice in a moment, and never in one? What five-letter word becomes shorter when you add two letters to it? I can speak all the languages in the world. What am I? I’m sometimes full, but I never overflow. What am I? The more of them you take, the more you leave behind. What are they?
I am an Alien:
Students have to imagine that the teacher is an alien and they need to instruct the alien how to complete an everyday task. They have to teach the alien the necessary vocabulary for the task and how to perform it. Ideas for such tasks are: Going to the supermarket to buy bread; making a sandwich; washing their clothes; brushing their teeth; taking a bus to the city.
To conclude, these 30 five-minute speaking games are really excellent to incorporate in classroom activities.