“The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.”
— Mark Van Doren
Are you looking for some new ideas for engaging your students in discussion and conversation in your classroom?
This article will highlight some fun interactive ESL speaking activities that you can use with adults and advanced students. Some of the exercises can be used for lower level students and young learners as well. Keep in mind, you may need to adapt some of the ideas depending on their level of proficiency.
1. Four Corners
Divide your students into four groups. Designate a topic of conversation in each corner of the classroom that they should discuss. For example, the corner by the teacher’s desk could be about ‘movies’. The opposing corner could be ‘cuisine’. The topics at the back corners of the classroom could be about ‘sports’ and ‘hobbies’. Of course, you can vary the topics depending on the students’ preferences and interests.
Have the groups rotate around the room and discuss each topic for about 5-minutes per corner. Lead feedback after each session is completed.
2. Movie Trailers
Find movie trailers on YouTube or other sites. Apple always has an updated collection that you can use.
Make a chart with different categories, like ‘Movie Title’, ‘Genre’, ‘Actors’, ‘Like/Dislike’, or ‘Predictions’. Print it out and give it to the class. You can also write it on the board if you wish.
Play the trailers and the students fill out the chart while they watch. Students can discuss their answers in groups after each trailer or after you have played a series of trailers. The categories can be expanded or shortened depending on how much time you have in the class.
3. Chopstick Topics
This activity is similar to the ‘4 Corners’ activity but involves less movement in the classroom. Students can just stay at their desks for this one.
Get a bunch of cheap wooden chopsticks. (Wooden tongue swabs work just as well.) Write different topics on the sides of the chopsticks.
After preparing the materials, put the students into groups. Give each group a chopstick. They can spend about 5-minutes discussing whichever topics they like that are written on the sides of the chopstick.
Lead feedback and hand out new chopsticks to the groups or have them pass their chopstick to the other groups.
4. Movie Predictions
Select a bunch of movie scenes from YouTube that you think your students will like. Mr Bean always works well for most levels.
Play a short 30-second clip from the scene, then stop the clip. Students then have to discuss in groups or with their partner what they think will happen next in the scene.
To make it more competitive, you could reward groups who make correct predictions with some kind of points system.
5. Funny or Die
Similar to the Funny or Die website theme, students watch a collection of movie clips and vote how funny they think the clips are.
You can use the scenes or GIFs directly from the Funny or Die website.
Create a handout with different sections on it so the students can mark down their votes. For instance, you could create a scale from 1 to 5 on it (1 being not funny at all. 5 being ‘laugh out loud’ hilarious).
After watching the clips, the students compare their answers and discuss their opinions of the scenes.
6. Movie Idioms
Learning idioms is always challenging for second language learners. Giving students exposure to idioms using movies can be a fun way to help them understand common expressions and phrases.
This activity requires a bit of preparation. You need to collect a series of short movie clips from films that use the target language or idioms that you want to focus on. For instance, you could search the Movie Idioms website for finding dialog that is used in a huge selection of popular films and TV shows.
Next, play a short 30-second film clip that features the idiom. Students need to listen carefully and write down the full-sentence that uses the expression.
Students compare answers, fix any mistakes with grammar, and practice using the same idiom in their own conversations. They can also practice using the expressions and phrases in different contexts.
You can repeat the same process with the other idioms that you discovered in different films.
More ESL Speaking Activities for Adults and Young Learners
Are you searching for more fun activities to use in your classroom? Check out ESL Expat’s collection of ESL Activities for Kids and Adults.
Were these ESL speaking activities useful for you and your students?
Please comment below and share your thoughts.