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. In this article we will look at 10 speaking activities for adults or advanced English leaners.
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.
As English teachers we need to find a way for our advanced students to practice their speaking and draw on their vocabulary to practice talking in a meaningful way because for most students the most important skill is to speak well.
Next are some activities I found on the Internet as well as games that I use in my own classes. (The links to the websites are in the description below.)
Put the students into pairs and each pair with another group said that they are four 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.
I’ve talked about this before. Each person has something that they’re very good at. Let each student pick a hobby or skill that they are proud of. Quickly write down a few notes about 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.
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 blooming 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? What were you doing? Why? Include these to make this a great activity for adults and advanced learners.
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, a second group has to plan the transport. How are we going to get there? Another can find a restaurant that we will eat at. The possibilities are endless.
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 every activity. It’s because I believe that at this level you should always have an outcome or a resolution.
250 conversation starters
Trust me, you’re going to thank me for this one. I found a wonderful list of conversation starters from a website called ‘Conversation Starters’. It has 250 questions that you can ask someone to get a conversation started I’ve put the link for the website down below. I also collected all the questions and put them in a word file that you can download for free. Trust me, these are cool! Cut them out for conversations in class. Students sit in small groups pick up the question and answer.
Here is the link: 250 CONVERSATION STARTERS
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 Bolens’ website called ‘ESL Speaking’. To start off, 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.
Have students play rock-paper-scissors or pick-a-number from a jar. I always think it’s better for students to believe that it’s chance that I’ve chosen them rather than the teacher picking. The first student comes to the front, they pick a topic and they have to talk about it non-stop for one minute. Make sure to emphasize that speed is the most important issue; you don’t care if they make mistakes, but you want them to talk very quickly.
Once they’re done you can erase the topic and then the next person comes. Once again, you don’t care what they say but they have to talk real quick for one minute otherwise you’ll get really angry with them. This is great as it shows students that it’s not important how many errors they make, but how fluent they can be.
Pecha Kucha originated in Tokyo in 2003 and it means cute. Students make a presentation on PowerPoint with ten pictures and with the slide counter to 10 seconds or 20 depending on the level of your students. When they do their presentation, they have to quickly explain each slide before it disappears. This is a very adaptable activity. You can use it for any topic and is another great activity to improve their fluency.
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 of four, where the interviewee will be asked questions by three other interviewers. I’ll make another video in the future on how to prepare students for job interviews.
Never have I ever
What started as a drinking game now became the final activity for our adult and advanced English learners. Students raise their hands; they then have to say something they have never done. If somebody else in the group have done it, that person has to put down a finger and talk about that experience. Try to keep things PG-rated. This is a great way for students to share experiences from their lives.
Remember, whatever you do in class, plan to make the lessons as student-centered as possible. That is where you will get the best out of your adult or advanced students.
Using speaking activities in class is very important for English learners of all ages but especially for advanced learners and adults because it promotes critical thinking and allows them to express themselves in English.
The best speaking activities to use for advanced English learners are social ones where they interact with a small group of people. Try not to make the groups too big ask that can limit student-talking-time and intimidate shy students.
Remember to take feedback from the students for them to share their experiences and what they have learned with the class.
Here is another 10 Speaking Activities that you can try in your class.