Languages › English as a Second Language Short Speaking Activities Lesson Plan Share Flipboard Email Print Erik Isakson / Getty Images English as a Second Language Resources for Teachers Pronunciation & Conversation Vocabulary Writing Skills Reading Comprehension Grammar Business English By Kenneth Beare English as a Second Language (ESL) Expert TESOL Diploma, Trinity College London M.A., Music Performance, Cologne University of Music B.A., Vocal Performance, Eastman School of Music Kenneth Beare is an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher and course developer with over three decades of teaching experience. our editorial process Kenneth Beare Updated June 25, 2019 Any teacher who's been in the business for more than a few months knows it's important to have short speaking activities on hand to fill in those gaps that inevitably occur during class. Try these practices for yourself! Student Interviews Introducing Students to Each Other / Expressing Opinions Choose a topic that will interest your students. Ask them to write five or more questions about this topic (students can also come up with the questions in small groups). Once they have finished the questions, they should interview at least two other students in the class and take notes on their answers. When the students have finished the activity, ask students to summarize what they have found out from the students they have interviewed. This exercise is very flexible. Beginning students can ask each other when they do their various daily tasks, advanced students can make up questions concerning politics or other hot topics. Conditional Chains Practicing conditional forms This activity specifically targets conditional forms. Choose either the real/unreal or past unreal (1, 2, 3 conditional) and give a few examples: If I had $1,000,000, I'd buy a big house. / If I bought a big house, we'd have to get new furniture. / If we got new furniture, we'd have to throw away the old. etc. Students will catch on quickly to this activity, but you might be surprised by how the story always seems to come back to the beginning. New Vocabulary Challenge Activating New Vocabulary Another common challenge in the classroom is getting students to use new vocabulary rather than the same old, same old. Ask students to brainstorm vocabulary. You can focus on a topic, a particular part of speech, or as a vocabulary review. Take two pens and (I like to use red and green) and write each word in one of two categories: A category for words that should not be used in conversation — these include words like 'go', 'live', etc., and a category that students should use in conversation - these include vocabulary items you'd like to get students using. Pick a topic and challenge students to only use the target vocabulary. Who Wants a...? Convincing Tell students that you are going to give them a present. However, only one student will receive the present. In order to receive this present, the student must convince you through his/her fluency and imagination that he or she deserves the present. It's best to use a wide range of imaginary presents as some students will obviously be more attracted to certain types of presents than others. A computerA gift certificate for $200 at a fashionable storeA bottle of expensive wineA new car Describing Your Best Friend Descriptive Adjective Use Write a list of descriptive adjectives on the board. It's best if you include both positive and negative characteristics. Ask students to choose the two positive and two negative adjectives that best describe their best friends and explain to the class while they chose those adjectives. Variation:Have students describe each other. Three Picture Story Descriptive Language/Reasoning Choose three pictures from a magazine. The first picture should be of people that are in some sort of relationship. The other two pictures should be of objects. Have students get into groups of three or four students to a group. Show the class the first picture and ask them to discuss the relationship of the people in the picture. Show them the second picture and tell them that the object is something that is important to the people in the first picture. Ask students to discuss why they think that object is important to the people. Show them the third picture and tell them that this object is something that the people in the first picture really don't like. Ask them to once again discuss the reasons why. After you have finished the activity, have the class compare the various stories that they came up within their groups.