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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Playful ways to teach pronunciationAre you looking for a way to liven up your listening classes? Phonetic Bingo is a game for learners from beginner to advanced levels and from elementary age to adult classes. This can be used in listening comprehension lessons, or in pronunciation classes with an orientation toward listening.

So, instead of just listening to recordings of people talking, you have another option. Using this game, you can teach learners how to distinguish specific speech sounds from others. It can also be used to identify weak areas, giving you and them ideas about the speech sounds they need work on. The following details will give you a better idea of what’s needed and how the game is played. Read more

Helping ESL Students With Their Pronunciation IssuesAs probably all ESL teachers are aware of, many, if not most of their students have difficulties with pronunciation. Students may have a great understanding of grammar and a wide-ranging vocabulary, but if they can’t be understood when speaking, those are moot points.

But it is somewhat difficult for teachers to address every single pronunciation issue that pops up in class. Add to that, having a strictly pronunciation-oriented class can be seriously boring for the students and you. Plus, it can be downright embarrassing if teachers single out one student’s pronunciation issues. Read more

Motivating your ESL StudentsIn my English class in Hong Kong, I came across a peculiar situation, after giving instructions to students to start doing their book reports. As I walked around the class, two students raised their hands to call me for help. One of those students had joined the school and started learning English last year. The other had been in the school for years and was at a much higher English level. Thus, I asked myself, Who do I help first?


About the Author: Ibrar Mohammed is teaching English in Hong Kong with Headstart. Ibrar is a graduate of OnTESOL’s 250-hour TESOL Diploma . Growing up, Ibrar always had a knack for languages, whether Cantonese or English, he would pick them up faster than his peers. Often, Ibrar would be asked to give special insights on how to learn a language. Ibrar’s TESOL has given him a much-needed pedagogical background as he majored in English studies with a minor in journalism. Ibrar advises all teachers who choose to teach abroad to have an open mind!

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Simple Ways to Use Images in the ESL ClassroomThe old expression, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” can be turned into a challenging ESL writing activity. It may be accomplished in one session or as an assignment followed by a presentation in another class as an extension. And it works best with middle school, high school, university, and adult ESL learners from between A2–C2 on the CEFR scale.

Read on to see what you need to know about incorporating this activity into your classes. Read more

Create an Inclusive ESL Learning EnvironmentIn my 6B class, I prepared a few ways for the students to retell Greta Thunberg’s biography. Students created a list of events in her life, with the main events under the title “Greta Thunberg”. Alternatively,  students had the option of drawing a concept map or a timeline. This helped some to organize their ideas better. Whichever way they chose, they would still fulfill the requirements and get the task done. Giving such options is one way to introduce an inclusive teaching strategy in the classroom.
About the Author: Ibrar Mohammed is a recent graduate of OnTESOL’s 250-hour TESOL diploma. He currently teaches English in Hong Kong with Headstart. Ibrar believes that having a rigid philosophy towards teaching could be useful at times. However, he does not advocate a single philosophy. In today’s ever-changing world, there is a certain advantage for teachers who can flexibly adapt their philosophies to cater to their students’ strength and weaknesses. Educating is more sophisticated than talking at your pupils, it requires talking to and with your pupils. He advises teachers not to give up on anyone that sets foot in their class regardless of their performance.

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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

Teaching using the news in ESL classrooms If you’re looking for something to use for one hour, for several classes, or even long-term, this will fit the bill. The Daily News integrates reading comprehension, vocabulary building, grammar, pronunciation, listening comprehension, fluency, and confidence building.

It’s also a practical way to keep a class active on a daily basis while providing variety at the same time. No one will get bored and class members will learn new things. In addition, students stay current on news and have opportunities to build their English skills. What more could you ask for in a classroom activity, right? Read more

blankGetting a classroom of ESL learners to speak is difficult sometimes. Especially in a mixed-level class, it can be downright challenging. This week’s post will provide an activity to get ESL students speaking, develop new vocabulary, and give opportunities for feedback at the same time. Read more

Teach engaging English grammar lessonsTraditionally, teaching language is associated with learning grammar rules. And why not? Without structure you have nothing to build communication on. Communicating would be nothing more than hit or miss if we didn’t know how to arrange the words.

 Learning English in school is often about the rules and mastering them.  Instead of developing your ability to use English in meaningful ways, the emphasis may have been on passing tests.

But teaching English is instead about giving your students opportunities to use the language. It is about creating an environment where perfect grammar is not the only acceptable display of language proficiency. 

The following points will help you see that shooting for perfect grammar may not be the way to go. Read more