esl speaking classes

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esl speaking classes

Unread post by smellymelly » Wed Oct 08, 2008 6:47 am

I just started a new job at a college in China and will be teaching oral English. From what I have been told, the students writing and reading knowledge is pretty good, but their speaking is not and they are very nervous to speak. Does anyone have any ideas to help get the students to speak? The students are all guys.

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Re: esl speaking classes

Unread post by Graziela » Wed Oct 08, 2008 4:10 pm

Well, as teachers we need to provide them oportunities to speak. So, it is important to have discussions during classes where they will have a chance to speak!

I reccomend a great website that contains.......only DISCUSSIONS for esl classes....The topics are really interesting and you can add some texts related to them or you wish!

The name of the website is :

I hope you find this of some help!!!
My best wishes,
Graziela Peleteiro

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Re: esl speaking classes

Unread post by brazilsandy » Tue Oct 28, 2008 2:19 pm

Yes! I have the same problem! Hence, I am considering using one act, or short plays ranging from 2 to 8 characters.

I believe this format will provide fun and speaking practice not to mention learning new vocabulary, idioms and slang phrases, etc. Given that I will be able to locate plays to meet the various ESL student levels, I see this format as having excellent potential in speech development.

It is by practice and by repetition and by coaching that the student will gain confidence in their ability to SPEAK!
Having to speak by playing a role in a play demands proper pronunciation, word inflections, and non-verbal movements at the same time. I intend to present Star Badges for performance improvement. A performance progress result is achieved by taping the first and last performances of the play which is played back to the students. Hopefully, their will be an noticeable overall improvement in speaking skills.

Class and homework assignments can be crafted from the contents of the play and graded accordingly.
The variable number of characters in each play requires a specific classroom drama activity structure based on the number of characters to number of students in the class. The character numbers automatically create teams ranging from 2 to 6 or more persons. Team competitions could also be factored in with perhaps the students grading each others teams. The team with the most badges wins a prize.

The pacing of the play would be determined by each teacher and/or school/company.

Another speaking development tool is to role play making telephone calls. Students sit back to back, use their cell phones, and have to make a call to the other student on one of a variety of different subjects and tasks. Conference call setting can also be used. Conversation subject matter is selected by the students who pull their card from 3x5 index cards. Conversation script and subject matter is developed by the teacher along with congruent skill building exercises. Subjects such as making a doctor's appointment; calling a friend to go to the movies, out to eat, etc.; making a hotel reservation; booking an airplane ticket; calling in sick for work; etc. provide real world life experiences. For optimal teacher evaluation of the conversation, only one pair of students can role play, leaving the balance of the students having to listen. That may be a good time for them to write down words that they do not understand, etc.

I welcome your feedback, thanks.

Heads Up Eng
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Re: esl speaking classes

Unread post by Heads Up Eng » Thu May 21, 2009 4:17 am

A lot of students in Japan (where I work) have a similar problem because they spend years and years doing grammar study. Their receptive levels are okay, but their productive levels are quite low. I've used this activity with a lot of success because it gives the students more than one chance to practice and improve on a conversation.


Step One: The teacher arranges students in pairs and distributes a worksheet with up to twenty questions to each person. It's advised that all the questions are centered on a singular theme.

Step Two: The teacher explains that one student asks questions from the worksheet (student A) and the other student answers the questions (student B). In addition, student A keeps a record of how many questions are asked, including follow up questions. Students have a fixed time to go through as many questions as possible, ideally two or three minutes.

Step Three: The activity begins. Students ask/answer the questions as the teacher keeps time.

Step Four: At the end of two or three minutes, student A counts the number of questions covered. This figure becomes the target. The same questions are practiced again, and student B expands on the answers as much as possible. The teacher allots five minutes to conduct this step.

Step Five: At the end of five minutes, student A counts the number of questions covered. The new figure should be more or less equal to the previous figure, even with the added time. This indicates improved performance. However, the past steps haven't been a real conversation per se. It's now time for the pairs to exchange information together. Student A goes through the same questions once more. Students limit the conversation to three minutes, marking only the questions asked from the handout. Additional follow-up questions aren't counted to the total.

Step Six: Pairs count how many questions were asked from the worksheet in Step Five. The pairs should only have used one or two questions from the worksheet.

Step Seven: Students switch roles and repeat the above steps. Student B selects different questions from the worksheet for his partner.

Variation One: This activity can be used in private lessons too. All the steps remain the same, with a focus on improved fluency. Accuracy also improves, although the teacher shouldn't focus on correction because this will further hinder speaking speed.

I hope this idea helps. Good luck!
Chris Cotter
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