Ideas for practising speaking at elementary levels

Is it difficult to practise speaking at the elementary level? We don’t think so! First of all, remember that at the lowest levels, speaking practice does not mean discussing complicated topics. We can establish that at this level whenever students say anything, they practise speaking. So, give them as many opportunities to speak as possible. Even if it’s only saying single sentences.

Check out our ideas for speaking activities that work with the lowest levels.

 

Role plays. 

It’s a brilliant tool for practising communication, especially at the lowest levels. Just make sure to provide students with useful vocabulary and a model role play before they begin. These role plays will work even with students who are not very talkative.

 

Topics. 

Elementary level students usually need some kind of stimulating material to help them talk. That way they don’t have to think so much about what to say, but how to say it.

An example of a stimulating material or a prompt could be a topic. Select a topic which you already covered with your students (i.e. they have the vocabulary to discuss it) and do some of these activities: 

  • Ask students to comment on the topic using the vocabulary they know - that's a great one for a revision activity.
  • Ask students to talk about the topic for 1 minute. This is a great exercise for practising fluency. Don't focus on any mistakes while the students are talking. Note them down and discuss them later.
  • Ask students to first create a list of questions on the topic that they could ask another student. When they've finished, they ask their questions to the students sitting next to them.

Make sure that the topics are structured in a way which is easy to understand, and that they are at the right level. For example, at A1, students won’t talk about the influence of art on young people. But something like: Your dream home will be much easier. They might also brainstorm vocabulary that may be useful for discussing this topic.

 

Asking questions. 

We teach our students to make presentations, to answer discussion questions, to describe pictures, but sometimes we forget to practise asking questions. And it's an essential skill to have in daily life. Asking questions in English can be especially challenging because of complicated grammar rules.

Examples of exercises for asking questions that work with lower levels are role plays or information gap activities. These are exercises in which each of the students in a pair or group has information that the others don’t. Then they ask each other questions to get the missing information. 

Another idea is to present students with a photo or a situation. Their task is to come up with questions that they would like to ask to find out more about the presented situation. Check out Questions, Questions for ready-to-use materials for practising asking questions at all levels.

 

Photos.

You can really do a lot with photos. Before the lesson select a few photos with enough detail (a situation, a selection of items, etc.). And this is what you could do with them:

  • Students work in pairs. Give each one a different photo. They can't reveal the photos to each other. One student describes their photo while the other one draws it. When they finish they compare the drawing with the original. Next, they swap roles and repeat the steps. 
  • Choose one photo but don't show it to anyone. Students ask Yes/No questions to find out what's in the photo.
  • present a photo with some people talking. Students come up with a dialogue between the people. Next, they act it out. Encourage them to act out their dialogues without looking at what they wrote. 

 

If you're looking for ready-to-use materials, check out our selection for elementary levels.

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