10 Great Speaking Activities

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Photo taken at TEFL International Seville

Here are some of the activities that I play with my students in conversation class. Most are originally intended for my upper intermediate-advanced students but they can all be easily tweaked down.

  • The Expert Game

T writes original job titles on pieces of paper (sushi expert, horse jockey, flight instructor, broker…).

One student picks a paper. Then he sits in front of the classroom. The other students have to ask that first student questions. He must answer as if he was an actual expert. The student has to last 3 full minutes. All students get to go and at the end they should all vote who they thought sounded the most like an expert.

  • Prioritise

Teacher writes the following things on the board:

-splits the bill

-talks about his mom

-keeps looking at his cell phone

-talks a lot about ex-partner

-keeps sunglasses on inside the restaurant

-is rude to the waiters

-doesn’t leave a tip

-shows a photo of his collection of figurines.

-has salad in his teeth all night

-had stains on his clothes when arrived.

Now tell your students that those are some of the things that can repel a woman on the first date (you probably have some students in the class that are male so tell them to either think of the worst things they could do or to step in a woman’s shoes). The students will individually organise those things from bad to the worst.

Then students pair up and have to come up with a new list that they both agree on (there will be a lot of debating going on). Then put 2 pairs together and so on until the whole class agrees on the same list.

  • Dinner Table

T writes the following job on the board:

-pet psychologist

-pet food taster

-hunter

-housekeeper

-broker

-golf ball diver

-Bed warmer

-professional queuer

The students now have to debate how to seat those people at the table. The students work in pairs and then discuss what each pair did.

  • Question Tic Tac Toe

Teacher draws a tic tac toe board and writes a number on each of the boxes. Each number is then given a word to form questions (1-what/2-where/3-why/4-how often/5- who/6-when/7-whose/8-how/9-do)

The students work in pairs and every time a student draws a cross or a circle, he/she has to ask their partner a question that starts with the corresponding word.

Review how to form questions if necessary.

  • Tell Me How to Draw it

Each student needs to draw a little drawing. Teacher pairs the students up. They are now going to instruct their partner on how to draw their picture without showing it. The students are only allowed to use geometric shapes to describe, no normal words allowed.

  • The Time Capsule

This can actually be done as a real project (probably with kids though). Teacher tells the students that they are going to bury a time capsule. 5 items will be placed in that capsule and it will not be opened for 20 years. In pairs, the students have to come up with 3 items they think represent the beginning of the 21st century best. Each pair should have a go at presenting what they would choose and explain why. Everybody then gets to vote the 5 best items.

  • The Definition Game

Teacher tells the students to look for an interesting word (they can use phones or dictionaries if necessary). They write the definition on a paper as well as 2 other invented definitions. Then they present to the class and the rest of the students get to guess what they think is the real definition.

  • Crazy Inventions

Teacher shows the crazy invention pictures. In pairs, the students choose one to present as if they had designed that product (if your students are more advanced, don’t let them choose…randomly give them one). They must invent a slogan, a name and a little advertising blurb. Then the students come to the front of the class and present. At the end, the whole class votes which one was the best.

Here are some examples of crazy inventions that I found on the internet.

  • The Movie Scenario

Teacher needs to give each student 3 little papers.

On paper 1 they write a number, an adjective on paper 2 and a noun on paper 3. The put all the paper 1 together, all the papers 2 together and the 3 together.

Teacher now puts the students in pairs. They are going to take a paper from each pile. Whatever they picked up is the title of their latest movie. They must write the plot of their movie and then present it to the class. The students can vote whether they would like to watch that movie or not.

  • Whose is it?

Teacher gives each of the students 2 little papers. On one of the papers, they write the thing they like the most in the world. On the other paper, the thing they hate the most. Teacher collects all the little papers in a box/hat/container (I have seen other teachers do a paper fight instead, could work nicely with kids). Each student randomly takes 2 new papers.

The activity can be done 2 different ways. The longer version would be to tell the students to ask each other questions and then to take a guess. The shorter version would be to jump straight onto the guessing part (probably better if your students know each other very well, like at the end of the year).

Try those activities out and tell me how they went!!

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