The secret to getting beginners to speak is simply planning activities that are right for their level, including speaking activities that’ll challenge them just enough without pushing them over the edge.
The thing is, sometimes we nail it with our intermediate and advanced groups, but end up neglecting our beginners. We might argue they don’t know enough words or enough grammar to have a conversation and that’s probably right if you’re thinking about discussing global warming next class. Check out 5 ideas of fun speaking activities and games any beginner will handle (and enjoy!):
The Yes Game
Have students ask simple questions such as “Are you a teacher?” “Do you have a cell phone?” For each question that gets a truthful yes, the student should get a point. You play the NO game in the exact same way, or offer different points based on each answer. Students can also pair up or do this exercise in small groups.
Find Someone Who
Create a survey that includes a column with questions and columns that say “true” and “false.” Students should pair up to mingle and ask questions on the survey, writing peer names under the true or false columns. You can also spice things up a little by giving your students new identities. You can hand out little cards with information about who they are and they’ll answer the questions based on their new selves. You can even give out celebrity personalities and have them use Find Someone Who to guess the celebrity!
In this activity, students are supposed to answer a set of simple questions and lie about one of them. If you’ve paired them up, the student asking the questions has to guess which answer they think was a lie. This is essentially “two truths and a lie” in the target language.
Test Students On Each Other
This activity is a fun way to practice using the third person. You can again have a list of simple personal questions, but this time students will ask and answer the questions about someone else in the class. When they’re done, they can go and check how many answers they got right.
**What’s Your Secret? **
Each student writes a “secret” on a strip of paper. It doesn’t have to be a hairy secret, but something the other students don’t know about them. Mix up the strips and have each student take one. Make sure they don’t have their own! Next, set up a speed dating scenario where students have 1 minute to ask each other yes/no questions and try to find out whose secret they have.
No matter which activity you choose, the idea is to get beginners speaking using practical questions, and interacting with a variety of individuals. Use these exercises to make your class interactive and help beginners get talking! Do you know of any other good speaking activities for beginners? Share with us in the comments below!
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