On 4th July 2019, I had the privilege of presenting at the English Teachers Association of Israel (ETAI) 40th anniversary international conference. Here is a summary of my talk:
Richer Speaking: how to get more out of speaking activities
This session will demonstrate a range of low-preparation ways to adapt speaking activities that appear in coursebooks and other materials, based on my self-published book ‘Richer Speaking‘. These adaptations are aimed at helping students to speak comfortably for longer and produce higher quality language while minimising the effort for you!
To find the full details of the richer activities, plus another 12 ways to extend speaking activities, get your copy of Richer Speaking from Smashwords or Amazon [affiliate links]. It costs around $1/€1, so shouldn’t break the bank! As always, I don’t claim that these ideas are original, but it’s handy to have them in one place and see how they can be applied to specific activities.
What do I want to know?
Tell your partner about you.
Before speaking, come up with three questions you want to know the answers to. Pool the questions with a partner and add two more to your list. Tell your partner about you. If your partner gets stuck, ask one of your questions.
Did you find out what you wanted to know?
This gives students a real reason to listen, and helps them come up with ideas for their own speaking turn too. It also helps to create more of a conversation instead of two monologues.
Any list of conversation questions.
Answer the conversation questions. Afterwards, list the language you used (either in English or your own language). For example:
- Grammar: tenses, sentence structures (conditionals? relative clauses? etc.), modal verbs…
- Vocabulary: phrases, collocations, key words…
- Pronunciation: intonation, stress for emphasis…
Consider what other language you could use. Look at your notebook or coursebook to help you. Change partners and repeat the activity.
Did you use all of the language on your longer list?
This challenges students to use a wider range of language and adds a reason for them to repeat the same speaking activity. It can be particularly good for exam students who need to show off the range of language they know.
Who am I?
A role play. In the session I used one from Now You’re Talking! 2 by Rivka Lichtner (A.E.L. Publications, 2018) where an Israeli teenager sees an American celebrity on the street. The teenager thinks the celebrity looks familiar and tries to speak to them, while the celebrity is on holiday and wants to hide their identity. [I love this idea!]
Create a mini biography for a teenager or celebrity in this situation. Here are some ideas:
- Celebrity: Who are you? Where are you from? Why are you visiting Israel? Why are you hiding?
- Teen: Who are you? Who do you think the celebrity is? Why do you want to talk to them?
- Both: How do you feel right now? Why? What did you do before the conversation? What are your plans later?
Optionally, exchange biographies with another student. Read your biography, then put it away. Meet as many celebrities/teens as you can in the time limit.
Teens: Did you find out who the celebrities were?
Celebrities: Did you hide successfully?
By giving students time to prepare before they speak, they can get into the role more fully and the role play should be much more interesting for them. Adding dimensions such as feelings and how this conversation fits into the character’s whole day can make it feel more realistic and part of a larger story.
Not me, you!
Talking about why two cartoons are funny. Again, the cartoons in my session were taken from from Now You’re Talking! 2.
For 1 minute, think of as many reasons as you can for why these cartoons are funny. Choose an object with your partner (for example, a pen or a coin). List ways that you can pass a conversation over to a partner. For example:
- What do you think?
- Do you agree?
- How about…?
- I really don’t think…, but maybe you do?
Have a conversation with your partner. Every time you pass the conversation to them, give them the object. When the teacher says stop, you shouldn’t be holding your object! Don’t be the last person speaking!
Who is holding the object?
Because students don’t want to lose the game, they push themselves to find something else to say to be able to hand over the conversation to their partners. This extends the conversation and gives them turn-taking practice.
To finish off the session, we used these reflection questions based loosely on ‘Supporting students in speaking tasks’, an activity from ELT Playbook 1.
- Choose 2-3 speaking activities you’ve done in the last school year. Could you adapt them using these ideas?
- Do you often include stages like these? Why (not)?
- What other support do/could you give your students to help them:
- prepare to speak?
- speak for longer?
- repeat activities in a varied way?
- have a clear reason to listen?
If you’d like more reflection activities like this, you can find all the links to buy ELT Playbook 1 at eltplaybook.wordpress.com. There’s a 10% discount until 31st July 2019 if you buy it via Smashwords [affiliate link] using the code YM64U.
Thank you to those who attended my talk, and I’d be really interested to hear from you if you try out any of these activities in your classroom. And don’t forget to get your copy of Richer Speaking from Smashwords or Amazon [affiliate links]!