Teaching ESL using questions

Have you ever taught a speaking class where you distributed textual conversation starters but it seemed your students didn’t really know what to say? If you’ve experienced this before I have a simple three-level approach called progressive questioning to get ESL students speaking.

In today’s blog, we’ll look at ways to create systematic questions so you can be more interactive and methodical with your students. In this article, I break down Progressive questioning into three levels and it’s as easy as 1-2-3. Read more

Creative ESL Speaking Activities

Getting ESL learners involved in class helps facilitate language learning. And sometimes people just need something to talk about. So, if you’re looking for a way to get your class members talking, a speaking activity is what you need. Creative speaking activities can provide the right stimulus to engage your learners and facilitate acquisition. They also provide a means to assess language skills and identify weak areas. Not only that, they can help you teach targeted language goals.

The more learners speak, the more feedback you can give. The more feedback you can give, the more you can pinpoint specific areas for improvement. In other words, the more you know about their weaknesses as a class (and as individuals), the more targeted your lessons can be. And as a bonus, speaking activities can help them realize where they need improvement.

Sometimes, learners are under a false impression of their skills and focus where they don’t need it. For example, a learner may be under the impression he/she needs to focus on present and past tense. But after evaluating their skills you determine that he/she has no problem with them. You can use speaking activities to dispel falsely identified weaknesses and help them focus on areas where they really need help.

We’ve shared several speaking activities already, but there’s more. We call today’s speaking activity, “Which Place?” Read further to know how it works.

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Teach Verb Tenses Using My Timeline ActivityToday’s ESL speaking activity can be done in one-on-one tutorials or in larger classes, but ideally with a group. My Timeline provides a creative way to engage learners, but it doesn’t end there. This speaking activity can help ESL students develop their ability to use basic verb tenses in a natural way by talking about themselves.

Class members also have opportunities to talk about significant events in their past, their lives at present, and their plans, goals, or hopes for the future. That makes it meaningful. In addition, My Timeline helps facilitate greater confidence, enhanced vocabulary, presentation skills, and fluency. Plus, it can give you more variety beyond the typical subjects present in ESL conversation classes. Read more

Learn how to teach an effective ESL Speaking classFor many ESL students, the most significant skill to learn is speaking. Although they would agree that writing, listening, and reading are all important, nothing demonstrates your mastery of a language like the ability to speak fluently. As such, speaking-focused classes are becoming increasingly popular for ESL students, especially those living in Asia. From the teachers’ perspective, however, giving effective and practical feedback in a speaking class can often be a challenge. 

About the author:  Kyle Doré is currently teaching English in Toronto, Canada. He spent four years teaching English in South Korea and graduated from our 120-hour Advanced TESOL certificate.

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Lower Levels ESL teaching speaking skills activityTeaching speaking skills is not easy with lower levels. Unless you are working with a highly motivated group of students, it can be challenging to get good discussions going. With planning and clearly defined roles, discussions can be very successful for a speaking skills lesson with lower levels.

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Teaching speaking skills to large ESL classes with TESOL activities

Making sure that all the students practice all the skills is every teacher’s responsibility. This becomes quite an onerous responsibility when there are many students in the class and class time does not seem to suffice. The speaking activities described below have been tried with large classes and have rendered good results.

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For many who teach English abroad, one of the biggest challenges is to teach speaking skills to a large class of 30 or more students. When there are so many students, it is difficult to get them to practice enough in order to continue improving. The other three macro skills – reading, writing and listening – sometimes present difficulties in logistics, organization and mostly marking because of the sheer amount of students’ work; however, when it comes to teaching speaking skills, the number of students makes it more difficult to organize activities and foster participation in the classroom.

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Teaching speaking skills with class debates in TESOLA class debate can be a fun and challenging way to encourage class interaction, review vocabulary, and develop speaking fluency. With a solid lesson plan and good moderating skills, your debate will be a success, and well-appreciated by your students. Here are some tips to get you started!

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Teaching writing skills and teaching speaking skillsIf you are teaching writing, especially for learners with academic goals, it can be very helpful to explore some of the differences between spoken and written language with your class.  Although misunderstandings in spoken communication can be negotiated and overcome, even small inaccuracies in written language can present barriers to effective communication.  This need for grammatical and lexical accuracy is one reason why most L2 learners find academic writing to be the most difficult skill to learn.

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