Language speaking is a big part of the ESL classroom. Speaking is fundamental in learning the language and using it for communication. Therefore, when we talk about speaking class, we are checking how well students speak the language! The proficiency in English language is complete when students are able to speak confidently.

As ESL teachers, your consideration must go beyond helping students use words and grammar rules. The way students articulate their thought processes, use speaking in a given context, and listen to each other to understands one's opinion is the kind of communication skill you are trying to imbibe upon. Also, introducing the basics of Phonology and Phonetics can bring more effectiveness in understanding the language from the perspective of how sounds work in English and how it can impact the spoken language.

To make your ESL speaking class a potent learning environment, try incorporating these 3 simple steps –

Start with Warm-up

A perfect idea to begin the class, warm-up sessions with a vibrant note can secure learners participation actively. Warmers or Warm-up activities are motivating and works as an energizer to make students feel comfortable in the classroom and interact with the rest of the class with ease. Students also feel inclusive and they become more open to flow along with the lesson you have planned for them.

In ESL speaking classrooms, when the objective is to make learners directly get involved, language teaching skills and strategies are needed to be intended towards pushing the learners out of their seats and get them to communicate with each other.

Focus on Collaboration

Conversation classes are meant to be collaborative. The more students are indulged in interacting with each other, the more they will have the exposer to speak, form new ideas, and exchange vocabulary. Group works, especially by forming small groups, pair work – presentations with partners are great ways to make them do collaborative activities. This also ensures a comfort level for students to work together rather than feeling the pressure of doing the task alone.

Create Speaking Opportunities

Speaking activities are the key areas where students get the opportunity to use their skills in real time setting. It is all about practice, practice and practice. This means, speaking out loud and not just creating the sentences in their head. Speaking opportunities allow students to get upfront and use the language to build their confidence.

So, what are some of these speaking activities you can use to keep the element of fun alive!

  • PechaKucha

PechaKucha is a form of storytelling slide show presentation, where students can show 20 slides for talking about 20 seconds for each slide. It's a Japanese term meaning chit chat. Students are to create a PPT with images of different topics. It keeps the activity concise, allows creativity and spontaneity.

  • Roleplay

Roleplay activities are undoubtedly fun; very much student-centered and bring up wider scope for every student's participation. Students can build up the conversation on their own, write it themselves and present it in groups. This activity is perfect for ESL students who are beginners with lower knowledge of the English language.

  • Show and Tell

You would be wrong if you think Show and Tell are just for kids. ESL teachers can also use this activity in their class to make speaking activity personal and relatable. With Show and Tell, each of your students gets the opportunity to speak it helps them to speak in front of their peers and allows building up confidence in themselves.

  • Debates

Debates are a very productive way to bring spontaneity in helping students to form the language, decoding it/listen carefully and express their ideas. You can make the whole class get involved in the group discussion, divide them into two groups and let them make conversational statements.

  • Sentence Auction

This is another fun and engaging ESL classroom activity with a large scope of active involvement. In sentence auction students review the key points of grammar and sentence construction from a list of correct and incorrect sentences. Basically, students will be divided into smaller groups and they will be given some money (imaginary) to bid on various sentences.

When it comes to using teaching skills and strategies in ESL speaking classrooms, working with English language learners you can ideally improvise activities that are real, practical, and hands-on. Things to keep in mind are age appropriation and difficulty level where students enjoy speaking and feel motivated to participate.

All in all, while you define your goal as a teacher, be sure to emphasize on developing a range of competencies that allows students to become 'good speakers' – the way they use the English language in a concrete way to construct and express their viewpoint.

To use Phonology and Phonetics in your speaking class Certificate in Teaching English Phonetics can help you deconstruct language in meaningful ways.


Written By : Roshni Chaterjee