Understanding Fluency: TEFL Speaking Activities Part I

By Joshua Yardley
March 21, 2012
TEFL speaking activity

Who doesn’t love a good TEFL speaking activity? Using speaking activities in the EFL classroom is an excellent way to help students improve their ability to access language and at a faster speed, thereby improving fluency.

Here are a few I hope you love.

Time Trials: This is an activity which has apparently been around for a while, but I didn’t hear about until recently. Here’s how it works: Give your EFL students a prompt and perhaps a few minutes to collect their thoughts. The prompt should allow for enough speaking to fill up four minutes. Once they are ready, put the students in pairs and have them take turns sharing their four-minute story with each other. Now mix up the pairs and have them take turns telling the same story, only this time they only have three minutes. Once both partners have retold their stories, mix up the groups one more time. They now only have two minutes to talk.

It’s important that the students switch partners after each round. This way they are still engaged in the activity and they are not adding details to keep their partner interested. Decreasing the amount of time they have to speak puts pressure on them to speak quickly, while the repetition should allow for more rapid access to the language, i.e. increasing fluency.

Listen to Me: This is a variation of the aforementioned activity. In this activity, English students choose whatever topic they want to speak about, and then they create and write a headline for their story. The teacher divides the class in half, and one half of the class holds up their headline. The other half reviews the headlines and decides which story they want to hear. Make sure that there is at least one listener per speaker. The speaker has four minutes to tell their story. After the first round, tell the listeners to find a new speaker. Once they’ve arranged themselves, the speakers present again for three minutes. The listeners move again for round three, and the speakers retell their story in two minutes. Once the first three rounds are finished, speakers and listeners reverse roles.

Take 1-Take 2: This TEFL speaking activity is similar to the first two, but the difference is that no listeners are required nor are there time limits. Give your student a recorder. Put them in a room and ask them to record a story. After the story is finished, have them listen and make notes on parts of the story that they feel they could do better. Then they record the story again. The students can go through this process a few times until they are satisfied with their recording.

The key element in each of the three activities above is repetition. By allowing the students to repeat their stories, possibly under time pressure, you are improving their ability to access that language and at a faster speed, thereby improving fluency.