6 speaking lessons


How many of these have you tried?

Speaking activities:

Help learners improve fluency

  • activate passive vocabulary
  • use new structures
  • build confidence

Help teachers

  • simulate real-life situations
  • assess level and progress
  • determine weak areas
  • add energy to lessons

Activities can be built around themes, pronunciation practice, grammar points, visits, social situations etc. In most cases you will need to show what you want your student to do by ‘going first’ but do this modeling reasonably quickly as your student needs more speaking practice than you! Remember to give feedback.

Speaking lesson outlines:

1. Arranging a week’s walking and camping holiday.
Agreeing and disagreeing. Speaking and listening.
Level: Lower intermediate to advanced

Method: Discuss holidays in GB and student’s country. UK map. World map. Best places. Cost.

Situation: You and your student need to agree on what to take. If you take too much you won’t be able to carry it! You could start by brainstorming all the things you could take eg map, compass, washing line and then discuss what to reject.

2. Describing a perfect day.
Level: Lower intermediate to advanced

Warmer: Discuss favourite food, places, people etc.

Describe your perfect day. Start with waking, breakfast etc all the way through to the evening. Could involve meeting friends, visiting places, relaxing. Swap roles. To extend the activity, ask your student to go into more detail when appropriate. Repeat the exercise if you think this would be helpful for fluency

3. Job interviews.
Work vocab. Speaking, listening, reading.
Level: Lower intermediate to advanced

Discuss your dream jobs, worst jobs, job history, salaries, private v public sector, ads in paper

Give your student 3 job ads to look at (simpler the better for lower level). Ask them to choose one with a view to being interviewed by you. Discuss new vocabulary.

Brainstorm the kind of questions that are asked at interview. Give your student a couple of minutes to prepare. Now interview your student (get them to walk in the room, sit down etc). Discuss what went well and what didn’t. Repeat interview.

Now swap roles (your student will by now be reasonably familiar with the questions to ask but will still need a few minutes to write down questions to ask eg. Do you have any experience of …..?, What are your strengths? 

4. Giving instructions.
Using prepositions. Speaking and listening.
Level: Lower intermediate to advanced

Draw a simple town plan (streets, shops, post box etc. Without showing it, describe the map to your student. Student attempts to draw the map. Pre-teach vocabulary where necessary. Swap roles.

For advanced students, use more complex instructions and go more quickly.

5. Interview someone from history.
Eg. Henry 8th, Henry Ford, Emily Brontë, Darwin etc. Question forms. Speaking and listening.
Level: Lower intermediate to advanced

Ask your student to think of a historical figure they would like to meet. Brainstorm questions that could be asked. This activity can be more controlled by providing a short text on a famous person.

After reading and discussion, you can move on to the interview. Alternatively ask your student to find a short text from the Internet themselves. Play the part of the famous person and invent answers where necessary (adds to the fun!). Reverse roles.

6. Memory game.
Speaking and listening.
Level: Elementary to intermediate

In this activity you and your student have to remember an increasingly long list of objects. Eg

In my bag I put a bottle of water.
In my bag I put a bottle of water and a packet of crisps.
In my bag I put a bottle of water, a packet of crisps and a map of London.
In my bag I put a bottle of water, a packet of crisps, a map of London and a mobile phone.

Take turns but stop this activity before it gets too difficult to remember everything. Good exercise for practising vocabulary. Can be adjusted according to level. Add adjectives to spice it up.

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