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Use this easy method to get the conversation rolling!

Teachers want their students to talk as much as possible, since conversation practice helps students improve their pronunciation and listening skills, and allows them to put the grammar and vocabulary theyve learned to use. Speaking is a fundamental part of communication in another language. But sometimes, getting students to speak is a real challenge! Textbooks, filled with written work and drill-type activities, arent always helpful. So what can teachers do? Fear not! Remember that students usually want to talk. Their favourite types of activities are generally ones that involve communication and interaction. Providing students with fun speaking activities, therefore, will almost always be met with an enthusiastic response. Give my favourite speaking activity a try!

Student-generated questions:
By having students write their own questions, you are getting them directly involved in the conversation before it even begins! They are also more likely to listen to each others answers (something that is often a challenge) because they want to hear how others will respond to their questions. Usually, you will end up with funny, interesting questions that students are interested in discussing.

General method:

Cut up enough small squares or strips of blank paper so that each student gets Pass out five squares to each student. Get students to write one question on each of the five squares. You can provide a

five squares. To save trees, use the back of used paper!

topic, such as travel for lower levels, or controversial issues for higher levels. You could also choose whatever topic youll be discussing in class that day/week. Sometimes I even give your choice of topics to the students, and I find that this ends up being the most funit allows them to ask silly or creative questions.

Circulate and correct students vocab and grammar as they are writing out their

questions. (This also allows you to check that nothing inappropriate is being asked.)

Variation 1:

Put the students into small groups of three or four. Ive found that small groups You can set a time limit (such as 20 minutes) if youd like. For groups that finish You can follow up as a class after all the groups are finished. You could ask

provides students with ample speaking time as well as with a good variety of opinions. quickly, you can give them some questions that another group has already used. something like, What was the funniest or most interesting thing your group talked about?

Variation 2:

Do this activity as a whole class. That way, the students will get to hear all of their You can ask the same question to more than one student, too. Keep the Keep in mind that shy students have trouble speaking in front of the rest of their

questions being asked and responded to, which is fun for them. conversation going by asking if others agree or disagree with a students response. classmates. Solve this by keeping the atmosphere informal and allowing students answers to be short. Jump in with prompts or interjections to keep them talking, if need be. Remind students that this isnt a presentation, just natural conversation practice.

Since this variation will take the most time, set a limit, for example 20 questions a

day. You can then continue to use these students questions as a warm-up every day for a week or so, if youd like!

Ive found that doing this activity as a class really allows classmates to bond with

each other.

Variation 3:

Put the students into pairs. While this way wont provide them with many opinions, You can follow up as a class after all the pairs are finished. You could ask

they will get in the most speaking time. something like, What was the funniest or most interesting thing you and your partner talked about?

This variation works well in private or semi-private lessons, too.

For more ways to get your students talking, check out our Discussion Starters section, our Something to Talk About section, or the other interesting posts in the ESLLibrary Blog! Happy chatting, Tanya