Favourite activities to promote speaking

Super Mario in our english class!

Super Mario in our english class!

Speaking is a crucial part of second language learning and teaching. Despite its importance, I believe that  for many years, teaching speaking has been undervalued and English language teachers have continued to teach speaking just as a repetition of drills or memorization of dialogues. However, today’s world requires that the goal of teaching speaking should improve students’ communicative skills, because, only in that way, students can express themselves.  Communicative language teaching and collaborative learning serve best for this aim.  Communicative language teaching is based on real-life situations that require communication. By using this method in ESL classes, students will have the opportunity of communicating with each other in the target language.  In brief, we should create a classroom environment where students have real-life communication, authentic activities, and meaningful tasks that promote oral language. This can occur when students collaborate in groups to achieve a goal or to complete a task.

Interviewing ...the Minnions!!

Interviewing …the Minnions!!

I love both role-plays and simulations in my class!

Simulations are very similar to role-plays but what makes simulations different than role plays is that they are more elaborate. In simulations, students can bring items to the class to create a realistic environment. For instance, if a student is acting as a singer, she brings a microphone to sing and so on. Role plays and simulations have many advantages. First, since they are entertaining, they motivate the students. Second, they increase the self-confidence of hesitant students, because in role play and simulation activities, they will have a different role and do not have to speak for themselves, which means they do not have to take the same responsibility.

Interviewing ...an alien!!

Interviewing …an alien!!

There are two ways a role play can go: scripted and non-scripted. With a scripted role play, the teacher might use an example in a text book. This is a good idea for a warm up exercise, by getting everyone to split up into pairs and allow them to speak to their partner, taking on different roles. Non-scripted ones are when students are given a role each and must use whatever knowledge they have in order to speak with that partner or to the class! Non-scripted ones, are my favourite!

Interviewing a famous athlete.

Interviewing a famous athlete.

When it comes to role-plays , it is all about the creative use of language. The student must put what they know to the test. This doesn’t mean they have to list off a boring dialogue. I allow them to be as creative as they can. I put them into challenging situations, and this will allow them to think of new ways of saying things.

A class survey...moving and talking around...

A class survey…moving and talking around…

Body language is just as important as spoken language, so in their role plays I try and let the students get into the role.

A simulation activity: at the mini market

A simulation activity: at the mini market

I also have my students conduct interviews on selected topics with various people. It is a good idea that we provide a rubric to students so that they know what type of questions they can ask or what path to follow, but students should prepare their own interview questions. Conducting interviews with people gives students a chance to practice their speaking ability not only in class but also outside and helps them becoming socialized.

 

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Presenting their project work in class….

 

What I  regularly do is ,to  have my students report to the class about their group project work! They report to their friends what they find as the most interesting thing in their project research. Students can also talk about whether they have experienced anything worth telling their friends while working on their projects.

Interviewing Messi!

Interviewing Messi!

I also love debates! I often have groups of students work  on their topic for a given time period, and present their opinions to the class. It is essential that the speaking should be equally divided among group members. At the end, the class decides on the winning group who defended the idea in the best way.This year, we have been working on a British Council project called “LIfe Skills”. This activity fosters critical thinking and quick decision making, and students learn how to express and justify themselves in polite ways while disagreeing with the others.

The winners of the " Life Skills " priorities pyramid " competition   holding their...lollipop awards!

The winners of the ” Life Skills ” priorities pyramid ” competition holding their…lollipop awards!

Rather than leading students to pure memorization, providing a rich environment where meaningful communication takes place is desired. With this aim, various speaking activities such as those listed above can contribute a great deal to students in developing basic interactive skills necessary for life. These activities make students more active in the learning process and at the same time make their learning more meaningful and fun for them.

 

A class debate on life priorities!

A class debate on life priorities!

Once the students are having fun and speaking English, there are no limits to their own learning!

Teaching their classmates their favourite sports!

Teaching their classmates their favourite sports!

Life Skills- a British Council project- Activity 1-a Needs Hierarchy Pyramid

Cutting pictures, on day 1

Cutting pictures, on day 1

About a month ago, I found out that I had to teach in ….Greek ,during the so called “Flexible  Zone”  of the greek primary schools, which has to do with  projects oriented learning , for about 2 hours every week.  I had to think hard before I made up my mind and finally decided to work on a British Council project, called “Life Skills”, which sounded both  promising and challenging! I also  decided ,to do part of the project, in english!

Brainstorming, on day 1

Brainstorming, on day 1

Life Skills are not something new; they are a set of basic skills
that enable us to effectively manage the challenges and questions
we face in our daily lives. They include confidence, assertiveness,
decision-making, and the ability to stay safe
and healthy. Schools are uniquely placed to play a key role in promoting
and sustaining young people’s emotional and social health,
as part of their role in providing a rounded quality education which helps pupils
to gain the confidence they need to develop into successful adults.

Sharing ideas-day 1

Sharing ideas-day 1

This training material, has been approved by the Ministry of Education
and Religious Affairs as being pedagogically appropriate for students in the 5th and 6th grade
of Primary School and in Gymnasio following a recommendation
of the Institute of Educational Policy.

Talking about priorities-day 2

Talking about priorities-day 2

The most effective form of
learning in Life Skills education is:
• active: emphasises learning by doing
• interactive: uses discussion and debate
• relevant: focuses on real-life
issues facing young people and society
• critical: encourages young people
to think for themselves
• collaborative: includes group work
and collaborative learning
• participative: gives young people
a say in their own learning.

Thinking about what is not really necessary in life-day 1

Thinking about what is not really necessary in life-day 1

The aim of the programme is to teach students how to:
• participate actively in various
decision-making and voting processes
• weigh up what is fair and unfair in
different situations, realise that justice
is fundamental to a democratic society
and study the role of law in maintaining
order and resolving disputes

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• consider how democracy, justice, diversity,
tolerance, respect and freedom
are valued by people of different
beliefs, backgrounds and traditions
within a changing democratic society
• comprehend the roles of citizens
in holding those in power to account
• explore diverse national,
regional, ethnic and religious
cultures, groups and communities
(in Greece) and the connections
between them
• take into account the interaction
between Greece, the rest of Europe
and the world.

Happy students

Happy students

I truly believe that, democracies need active, informed and responsible citizens, who are willing and able to take responsibility for themselves and their communities and contribute to the political process.

A highly enganged class!

A highly enganged class!

Life Skills education involves a wide range of diverse learning elements, which include:
• Knowledge and understanding:
Of topics such as laws and rules,
the democratic process, the media,
human rights, diversity, money
and the economy, sustainable
development, and the world as a global
community; and of concepts such
as democracy, justice, equality,
freedom, authority and the rule of law

And highly enganged teams!

Talking about life priorites- on day 2

 

• Skills and aptitudes: Critical thinking,
analysing information, expressing
opinions, taking part in discussions
and debates, negotiating, dispute resolution
and participating in community actions
• Values and attitudes: Respect
for justice, democracy and the
rule of law, openness, tolerance,
courage to defend a point of view,
and a willingness to listen to,
work with and stand up for others.

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And highly engaged teams!!

 

The following first activity is a copy from the British Council   manual for trainers and teachers with recommended activities ! My mentor in this project is Faidra Tsalababouni and  I am so grateful for that!!Thanks Faidra!! You are precious!

Day 2-instructions

Day 3-instructions

Activity One: Sailing to a new land

We ask the students to imagine that they are getting ready
to set sail for a new continent. No one is living there now,
and so when they arrive, they will be responsible
for establishing a new country.

We split up the students into small groups and give each group an envelope with all the Wants and Needs cards; we explain to them that these are the things they will be packing to start their life in the new country. We ask each group
to open the envelope, share out the cards and study them.

Day 2-the pyramid

Day 3-the pyramid

We explain that the ship is setting sail and begin a story in this way: At first, the journey is very pleasant.
The sun is shining and the sea is serene. However, a big storm suddenly breaks out and the ship starts to tilt dangerously.
In fact, it is about to sink! You need to throw five of your cards overboard so that the ship can float. We ask each group to decide which cards they will throw overboard.
We explain to them that they will not be able to recover these items later on. We collect the cards that have been
“thrown overboard” and place them in a pile.

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The priorities Pyramid

 

We continue with the story:
The storm has finally subsided. Everyone feels relieved.
However, a weather forecast reports that a Category 5 hurricane is heading towards the ship. To survive
the hurricane, you must throw another five cards overboard! Remember: don’t discard items you will most probably need to survive in your new country.
In the same way as before, we collect the cards and place them in a separate pile.

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The students to place their cards on the pyramid with the important cards at the base and the less important ones at the top.

 

We continue with the story:
We almost didn’t make it! However, we have almost reached the new continent. Everyone is very excited. However,
just as we see land on the horizon, a huge whale crashes into our ship, tearing a hole in its side. You need to make the ship even lighter! Throw away four more cards.
We collect the cards and put them in a pile.
You announce that they have finally reached the new continent safely and are ready to build a new country. We ask each group to glue their remaining cards to a sheet of paper so that everyone can remember what they have brought with them to the new continent. Do you have all you need to survive? To grow and properly develop?

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Review and evaluation:
1. We review the activity by asking questions such as:
a. What did you enjoy in this activity?
b. How did you decide on what was not needed?
What was essential?
c. Was it difficult to make certain decisions? Which ones?
d. Were there any disagreements in the group about what to keep and what to throw overboard? How did you resolve them?
e. Do all people have the same needs?
Which people may have different needs?
f. What do you think of your final choices?
Will you be able to survive in this foreign country?
Will you be able to grow and properly develop?
g. How did the group decide what to throw overboard?
h. Were you surprised by the final outcome?
i. If you were to repeat this activity a second time, would you discard different items?

Group work is encouraged in all stages!

Group work is encouraged in all stages!

2. Point out that human rights are based on human needs: the things that people need to survive, grow, properly develop and live a dignified life.
Ask questions like:
a. Did you have all you need to survive?
b. Did you have all you need to grow and properly develop?
c. Which things would you have liked to keep but decided were not essential?
• Draw a pyramid.
• Ask the students to place their cards on the pyramid
with the important cards at the base and
the less important ones at the top.

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Outcome: 

The students

•will look at alternative options, take decisions and justify their choices
•will critically evaluate different ideas and viewpoints, that they agree or disagree with
•will negotiate, make decisions and take action to try and influence others

Final Material/Stage

Students will produce/participate in:  Needs Hierarchy Pyramid

The proud winning team holding their lollipops! All students were awarded stickers!

The proud winning team holding their lollipops! All students were awarded stickers!

They are expected to discuss their choices and vote for the best pyramid! Finally, they will be asked to write an essay summarising their views and experience!

Voting for the best pyramid!

Voting for the best pyramid!

Debating about their choices

Debating about their choices

 

The winners of the " Life priorities pyramid " competition   !

The winners of the ” Life priorities pyramid ” competition , holding their …lollipop awards!

This is not the ordinary seating arrangement for essay writing, is it?

This is not the ordinary seating arrangement for essay writing, is it?

My students were asked to feel free to move around the classroom while writing their essays on the "life priorities" topic!

My students were asked to feel free to move around the classroom while writing their essays on the “life priorities” topic!

 

Four school teachers and me, selected the three best essays on the topic! The winners received awards and were asked to read their essays to their classmates!

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So proud!

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Reading her essay in class…

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Happy!

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Such a precious experience for all of my students!

 

 

 

(to be continued…)

 

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