10 Speaking Activities for Adults, Advanced English Learners and University Students ESL Classes
Helping advanced students practice their speaking ability can be tough; Going over material and expecting them to discuss it can be boring. That is why we should use games or activities to get them excited and talking in class.
1. Small Talk
In this activity place the students into pairs and each pair with another group so that they are four students together. The first pair thinks of the topic and the other pair has to discuss it with each other for one minute. You can change the amount of time depending on the level of the students. This is a great activity because you don’t need to prepare anything and the learners pick the topics once they’ve done make sure to get feedback from your students ask them if they heard anything funny or interesting. It’s worth doing this so students can see that their experience of an activity has value.
2. Hobby Expert
Everyone has something that they’re very good at. Let each student pick a hobby or skill that they are proud of and quickly write down a few notes on how to become very good at that hobby. Then, they have to explain to a partner step by step how to get good at that skill. Make sure that they include at least five steps and no sleeping or playing video games!! When done, ask students what their partner has taught them.
3. Use Phones for English Learning
We have one of the best resources in the world at our fingertips. When I start class I often ask my students to take out their phones and find a photo they have taken recently. Then they have to share the story of the photo in small groups. Social media like Instagram is booming and learners really want to share their lives with other people. Most are so happy to share something interesting or fun that happened in their very own lives or just a pretty picture they took of something. It also makes it easier for them to explain what is going on in their lives you can also encourage the rest of the group to ask them the five W’s: When was it taken? Who is in the picture? Where? What were you doing? Why? Include these to make this a great active for adults and advanced learners.
4. Project-based Learning PBL
Speaking of phones… Since most people have internet on their phones you can ask the students to do some projects together. Pair them up and tell them to present their findings to the class. They are news presenters and they have to find a new story that they will share with the class. But make sure they find the information from an English site. I’ve done the same thing when I was preparing students for a trip abroad. I asked them to plan a day in the city they were visiting. Their itinerary should include places to go restaurants to eat at and activities to do and remember push them to use English sources. Most Koreans use the exact same blogs but we want to expose them to real content instead of translating. It could also be something simple like telling the class that we’re going to have a day out. One group has to pick a movie, one group has to plan the transportation – how are we going to get there. Another has to find a restaurant that will eat at, the possibilities are endless.
5. Find something in common
All humans want to form connections with other people so there is nothing better than to find out what you have in common with a classmate. Challenge your students to have a conversation with a partner and find out what exactly they have in common. It could be that they went to the same vacation spot when they were younger or they both have two sisters. It’s even better if it’s something exciting or interesting. Give them a couple of minutes to have a conversation write it down and then they can share it with the class. You might notice that I insist on getting feedback from the students after each activity. That’s because I believe that at this level you should always have an outcome or a resolution.
6. 250 Conversation Starters
250 questions that you can ask someone to get a conversation started. Trust me these are gold! Cut them out for conversations in class. Students sit in small groups, pick up the question and answer.
7. Just a Minute
Most students have an issue with fluency, they speak very slowly and there are often pauses in between their sentences. Just a minute is a great activity to help with fluency. I first saw this on Jackie Bolen’s website called ESL speaking. To start, write down topics on your board – it could be topics that you’re already doing in class or ones that you think of on your own. Make sure that there are more topics than you have students then have students play rock-paper-scissors or pick a number from a jar. I always think it’s better for learners to believe that it’s luck rather than the teacher picking the first student comes to the front. They choose a topic and talk about it non-stop for one minute. Make sure to emphasize that speed is the most important factor – you don’t care if they make mistakes but you want them to talk very quickly to work on their fluency. Once they’re done, erase the topic from the board and then it’s the next student’s turn. Once again, you don’t care what they say but they have to speak quickly for one minute. This is great as it shows your students that it’s not important how many errors they make, but how fluent they can be.
8. Pecha Kucha
Pecha Kucha originated in Tokyo in 2003 and it means ‘chit chat’. Students make a presentation on Powerpoint with ten pictures and the slide counter to 10 or 20 seconds depending on their level. When they do their presentation they have to quickly explain each slide before it disappears. This is a very adaptable activity and can be used
for any topic. It is another great activity to improve their fluency.
9. Job Interview
We have all done these in class. It’s a useful activity because it prepares them for their professional lives. Do it in small groups are for where the interviewee will be asked questions by the other interviewers. I thought about giving you a list of questions that you can use but I got lazy, you’re just going to have to do it on your own.
10. Never have I ever
All the students stand up. Each one has to say something unique about themselves. For example: I have 3 brothers. If anyone else has 3 brothers they lose and have to sit down. This helps students think of creative ways in which their lives are different. They can talk about past experiences or things that are unique to them.
I hope these activities can help you in the classroom. Please consider subscribing for more content!