Posted on July 31, 2019 | By Alexa Randell
All Things TEFL
10th Jan 2019
Developing speaking skills in a TEFL class comes with various challenges, whether it be coaxing words out of shy students or managing large classes of chatty ones. We’ve put together a few quick, simple activities to get your students talking that can be used with all kinds of topics. You may find some of these activities particularly useful for students who are preparing for a speaking exam.
Asking and Answering Questions
Most speaking exams start with the examiner asking the candidates some questions about themselves. The first couple of activities have a look at how you could develop the complexity of your students answers to these questions.
Activity #1: Improving answers
Ask the learners to ask you some questions they might get asked in their exam. Some example questions can be found below. Answer the questions well or badly and ask the learners to decide if it was a right/good answer or a wrong/bad answer. If it was a wrong answer, elicit from the learners how could you fix it? Go through ideas on the board together as a class.
Next, divide learners into groups of three. Ask the first student a question and they answer. The second learner then has to answer the same question but better than the first person. Then the third learner has to also answer and better the second student.
Best for: Speaking exam preparation
Example of the activity:
Teacher: Where are you from?
Student A: I’m from Spain
Student B: I’m from Seville, which is a city in the south of Spain.
Student C: I’m from Seville, which is a city in the south of Spain. It is famous for being the birthplace of Flamenco, its culture, monuments and traditions.
What do you do? Do you work or study?
What is your hometown like?
Do you usually celebrate your birthday?
What is your first memory of your childhood?
What is your daily routine?
Activity #2: Alternative answers
Give the students a question like “why are you studying English?” The students then have to answer the question multiple times using different tenses or topics. This will challenge them to think about other ways they can answer a common question giving them a better range of language use.
Best for: Speaking exam preparation
Example of instructions
Question: Why are you studying English?
Types of answers:
Activity #3: Active listening
This activity helps to develop learners’ conversational skills by showing they are actively listening by responding to statements made by their partner. Speaking exams often have a section where they have to discuss something in pairs. This activity helps them to develop your students’ ability to converse in a natural manner.
Best for: Conversational skills
First, give the students a sentence.
I think my teacher is really boring.
I want to be a doctor when I grow up.
Last year I went to Berlin.
Next, tell the learners to mingle and say their sentence to someone. Ask the listeners to make a comment about the sentences they hear.
Then, let the learners re-mingle and repeat this process with another partner. Once the students have done this a couple of times, ask the speakers to add a question to the end of their statement that the listener has to respond to.
Finally, tell the students to mingle again. This time tell the listeners to ask for more information about the statement made.
You can repeat this activity with different statements to give the learners a range of topics to discuss.
Activity #4: Storytelling
This activity develops learners storytelling skills by asking them to make up a story spontaneously, using narrative tenses. To do this activity, give the learners the first sentence of a story which they have to continue.
I was walking through the park when all of a sudden, I saw …
Student A: continues the story.
Student B: says words at random while student A is telling the story.
Student A: Includes those words into their story.
Have a go at using these activities in your class and let us know how you get on! If you enjoyed this blog, you may also like our blog: Great toys and teaching tools for young learners.