How to Include ESL Speaking Activities in Your Lessons

ESL Speaking Activities It's important to include a lot of ESL speaking activities in your lessons, because most people learning English want to speak.

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Even if students want to learn to read and write English as well, speaking is usually the most important skill for them.

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Using ESL speaking activities in your lessons

It isn't always easy to include lots of speaking activities, especially if you are doing a reading or writing lesson.

One of the most important things to remember is to get the students speaking more than you speak, as they will learn more by doing than by listening.

One way to do this in a non-speaking focused lesson is to ask them to compare their answers together after every activity. This will increase the length of time they are speaking and reduce the time you are speaking.

Asking them to repeat instructions back to you is another way to get them to speak.

If you are doing a reading lesson, you can ask students to read short sections out loud. This gets them used to hearing their voice in English, which sounds very strange to them at first.

With a writing lesson, you could have them read out their work after they write it. Peer correction works well with this too. Other students can listen and correct the grammar or pronunciation.

Accuracy or fluency?

If you have a lesson, or part of a lesson, that is focused on speaking, you need to consider the activities you include, and what your aim is.

If your aim is improving accuracy, then eliciting scripts and performing short role plays is a good activity.

If you want to concentrate on fluency, then activities such as 'Just a Minute', or improvised role plays are excellent practice. Students often enjoy these too.

For a bit more variety in your speaking activities, consider using other media.

For example, play music and get your students to describe their thoughts and feelings as they heard it.

Or perhaps you could play a video or film excerpt without sound and get students to make notes, then to provide a commentary as to what is happening while you play it again.

Recording your students

If you have the facility, it is really useful to be able to record your students speaking (either via sound or via video).

They usually find it very interesting to hear or see themselves afterwards and it makes it easier to point out any problems. Often, the students notice the mistakes without you having to say anything.

Creating TV or radio shows is something that students of any age enjoy, and this task can be adapted for most levels, and can be changed slightly depending on what equipment you have available.

I've filmed student news programs and played them back, and I've also had them do them as performances without being filmed.

I've also recorded radio shows which included interviews, weather reports, reviews, news, etc. Most students seem to enjoy doing this, and it helps teamwork as well as language skills!

Role plays are great, but with a little imagination you will realize that ESL speaking activities don't have to be limited to role plays.

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