Speaking Activities for ESL: 10 Best Speaking Activities every Teacher should Know

Today I’m going to talk about the 10 best speaking activities that every ESL teacher should know stay tuned because at the end I’m going to give a final special activity that you can use in your class.

Top 10 Speaking Activities for English Class. Teaching ESL games and activities.

Questions to a Partner

Make a list of questions for student A and a list of different questions for student B. They ask each other these questions and they get to answer and respond to. Why is this the best possible activity? Because it maximizes student talking time and I feel this is the best way to engage all the learners in class.


This is a famous activity. Make a list of questions. Students then walk around the class and ask one question to a different person each time. Students love this activity because it allows them to walk around the class and actually talk to some of their friends.

Speed Dating

Make a list of questions and students sit down with a partner for a minute or two. When their time is up you ring a bell and they switch partners. What makes this different from a survey is that it’s not only one question that they have to ask, it’s a few questions. That gives them the opportunity to practice these questions and improve their fluency whenever they have to repeat an answer. Students can also choose which questions they ask their partners. At a more advanced level I want you to encourage students to ask follow-up questions so that they practice a more natural way of speaking.

Running Sentences

English learners have to continue the sentence or an idea or story. One student will start with a story and then stop. After that student the next student has to continue and the next and next… This can also be used in writing where someone writes the beginning of a story, another finally the end. It’s also great for conditionals: If one student says “If I had a million dollars I would be happy” and then another student continues “If I was happy I would live in a big mansion.” Third student “If I lived in a big mansion I would have a butler” and so on.

Deserted Island

Asked students to draw a picture of something, anything. Once they’ve finished tell them that they are on a deserted island and only half of them can survive. They have to try and persuade their friends to pick them. Give them some time to prepare by writing reasons why they should get picked to survive and then once it’s their turn they should plead their case for survival. Students really like this. Get them to draw something that helps them imagine it and then also because they’re actually fighting for their lives.

Taboo Game

Give students a word, let’s say politics and then they should try and explain that word to the other students without using similar words. You can put it on a projector or you can put it on the screen. Show them a word and say okay listen you can’t use these words. I prefer using cards and I’ve got a whole stack of cards that I use. I think it’s a it’s an easy way to put students into groups what you want to do with most activities is you want to scaffold it. What I do is first is I start off and I say “Okay everyone, explain this word to your friends. You can use these extra words underneath to help you explain. Then, some time late I say “Okay stop! This is way too easy for you. Let’s make it a little bit more difficult. I want you to explain the word without using the words below”. Why do we scaffold activities? It’s like playing a video game: First when you start playing the game you’re going to play it on easy. Then you’re going to move on to normal and then to hard. That’s the way for students too. With most of our activities we want to make it easy for them to understand at the start. From there you can add rules or extra material to increase the difficulty. A lot of inexperienced teachers start at the most difficult level without considering their student’s needs or abilities.

Two Truths, One Lie

This is a fun activity. You ask students to write down two things about themselves that are true and then one that is false. Tell them to make it interesting, don’t make it anything boring. For example, when you show students how to do it you can say I have three brothers, I can’t eat seafood and my favorite color is red. Then the class should ask you questions to find out which one is the lie. Tell students not to use your examples otherwise you’ll find that the whole class uses “I have a brother ” as one of their statements. They should try and create their own original ideas.

Split them up into groups so that they can practice with their friends. The reason we split learners into groups is to maximize learner talking time. If you use the whole class then students get bored. It takes too long they don’t really get a chance to do anything and when students are like that they’re then going to zone out. So you want to engage your students as much as possible by making them part of the activity. When they’re in their groups tell the students to remember to ask each other extra questions to try and find out which one is the lie. If I said I had three brothers they can ask me well what are their names are? Or how old they are?


This is a really fun activity. Tell the students that yesterday a crime was committed and they want to find a group of students who is responsible. If you have a class of twenty students you could make groups of four. Then an investigator for each one . The investigators I usually make the brightest students so that they can start and ask good questions.

Give the group’s a few minutes to create an alibi a story and it’s details: Where were they? What were they doing? At what time? What were they eating? What was the weather like? Once they’re done each of the four investigators will interview the group and ask them questions. They can give that group of score how much do they believe them. To make it easier you can also write some example questions on the board that the investigators can ask and they can also come up with their own questions. They will interview each group and then after a few minutes move around so that they interview all the groups. Afterwards all the detectives should say which group do they think is responsible. This is a great activity! Students like this game and without knowing it they’re practicing their English skills and they’re gonna love.

Hot Seat

With hot seat put the students into groups maybe if you have a group of four students. One student leaves the class, then you tell the other three students a word or phrase. They have to explain to explain it to him or her. What you can do is you can make it more competitive. If you can put the group’s against each other and give them a list of words they have to run through, then you’ll see who finishes first. It can get a little bit loud but I think if you set the ground rules then it should be a lot of fun.

Twenty Questions

We all know this you think of something and the students can ask you to any question to figure out what it is. Is it alive? Is it big? You can ask any question you’d like. Once again place the students into groups to make sure that everybody gets a chance.

Zombie Game

Thank you for staying until the last activity. If you did you’re gonna enjoy this one. It’s called secret zombie. Before class you can have a couple of small strips of paper you write on a H for human or Z for a zombie. Let’s say if you have a group of twenty students you can make three zombies. The students have to go and have a conversation with another student. They will walk around and have a normal conversation. What did you do last weekend? What’s your favorite food? You can give them some sample questions. The thing is while they are talking the zombie should secretly wink at the other students. When they do that person is a zombie. After that conversation ends they should find someone else to talk to and infect them as well. Do this for 4 or 5 conversations then you say stop. All the zombies raise their hands to reveal themselves and the rest of the students see who remained uninfected.

Okay everyone! I hope you enjoyed these activities!

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