Activities to Improve Speaking Fluency
Why are your students studying English? Would you agree that most students want to improve their speaking skills, overcome the language barrier and speak fluently? Fluency, which is defined as “being able to speak and write quickly or easily in a given language», helps learners to feel confident while having a conversation in the target language. So each teacher must think of a range of techniques and strategies which will equip students with the possibility to improve their fluency. Each lesson must include an activity to practice speaking for fluency. In this article, we will present some great speaking fluency activities which turn to be quite fruitful for any lesson.
A typical ranking activity looks like this:
Students imagine the situation when they are on a desert island and have to rank items in order of usefulness on it, e.g. water, food, a boat, clothes, rope, a tent, a compass, etc. The activity can be organized in the form of pyramid discussions, where students first rank the items on their own. Then they compare their lists with their partners, afterwards,, they discuss in groups and in a group choose top 5 items. As a sum-up activity, each group shares their ranking results and in an open class discussion the whole class votes for the 3 items.
A similar ranking activity is this one which will hone students critical thinking and fluency.
After studying some vocabulary or grammar you might prepare a list of phrases/sentences and ask students to rank them according to certain criteria, e.g. you have studied the topic “Jobs”, ask students to rank jobs: 1 — the best 10 — the worst.
Find a problem-solving activity to suit the topic studied in the lesson. Students might follow instructions to find a place on a map, to draw a picture, or give a piece of advice to a person who has got a problem. While doing these activities students need to converse with each other, ask and answer questions, give instructions, etc. This fluency activity is great for students who like resolving difficult cases, finding the solution through cooperative work. Make sure students do in fact have to talk to each other to achieve the end result.
Here and here you can find problem-solving activities which can be used for any topic/lesson.
3. Question and Answer games
These type of activities range from very simple «Find someone who…» (plays the guitar, has been abroad, would like to travel in Europe, has broken something expensive, etc ) to quite elaborated student surveys. ‘Question and Answer’ games prompt conversation, therefore it would be nice to teach students some follow-up questions, such as ‘Really, how well can you play?’ or ‘When did you travel there?’.
4. Talk time
Students take turns to choose a topic card and talk for a minute (use an online stopwatch). When he/she finishes, the rest of the group ask as many follow-up questions as they can. When all the questions are over, the next member of the group picks up a speaking card.
These discussion questions are a great source for ‘Talk time’ activity.
5. What’s your secret
In this game, each student writes a secret down on a piece of paper, using grammar or vocabulary from the lesson. The papers are placed in a hat for each student to draw one. Students need to ask each other as many questions as possible to find the author of the secret. They need to ask questions within a limited time. After the set time, they rotate their pairs until they find whose secret it was.
All the activities can be adjusted to any topic or language material being studied as most of them are in the form of pair or group discussions. For each activity, we have provided some ready-made examples. However, teachers can make some changes or create their own worksheets to match the format of the activity.