Teaching ESL Speaking Activites

June 10, 2013

Here are some good points to remember when teaching speaking to ESL students.

Principles For Teaching Speaking

  • Be aware of the differences between second language and foreign language learning contexts
  • Give students practice with both fluency and accuracy
  • Provide opportunities for students to talk by using group work or pair work, and limiting teacher talk
  • Plan speaking tasks that involve negotiation for meaning
  • Design classroom activities that involve guidance and practice in both transactional and interactional speaking

Classroom Techniques and Tasks For Teaching ESL Speaking

  • Information Gap: One student has information that the other lacks – must use target language to share
  • Jigsaw Activities:Group Information Gap activity – pairs of students seek information from other pairs
  • Role Plays: Students role play in target language
  • Simulations: More involved than Role Play – may involve props and documents
    Example – props to practice checking out at grocery store
  • Contact assignments: Send students out of classroom on an information treasure hunt to talk to people in target language
  • Classroom Conversations for Active Learner Participation!: Students love to talk to each other. Teacher’s should find ways to encourage dynamic conversation in the classroom. Example: “Running with the Bulls” Conversation Dangerous or Fun?!


      Bailey, K.M. (2005). Practical English language teaching: Speaking . New York: McGraw-Hill.