• IMPROVING Six Popular ESL Activities: Making Them More Than Just Talking PART 2

Cover Pt 2 shot

In this Part 2 of IMPROVING Six Popular ESL Activities, I’ll discuss how three popular activities are traditionally used and ways that they can be made more stimulating and conducive to conversation-skills development. Here is the link to Part 1. How to IMPROVE Six Popular ESL Activities: Making Them More Than Just Talking PART 1

 Activity 4: Desert Island

Desert Is 1 shot

Desert Is 2 RE Rev shot

Desert Is 3 shot

RECOMMENDATION: It’s helpful to tell students a day or two in advance that they will be doing this activity so that they have time to think about the items that they would want to take in their cars.

Her is a link to a short video where you can see a demonstration of how this “better” activity works and more explanation about its many improvements over traditional Desert Island: A Better Way to do Desert Island

Activity 5: Ask a Partner Questions

Ask partner 1 shot

Ask partner 2 shot

Her is a link to a short video where you can see a demonstration of how this activity works and more explanation about its many improvements over traditional Ask a Partner Questions:  A Better Way to do Ask a Partner Questions

Activity 6: Speed dating

Speed date REVISED 1 shot

Here is an example of pictures that students can choose from to be their imagined person.

Speed date picture shot rev

*Below is a sample of the list of questions that you could give your students:

Speed model dialog REV shotSpeed questions

Her is a link to a short video where you can see a demonstration of how this activity works and more explanation about its many improvements over traditional Speed Dating: Better Way to Do ESL Speed Dating Activity

Conversation Skills in All Three Activities

These activities present students with opportunities to practice giving listening responses (rejoinders) which they will be able to use outside the classroom, for example, ones that show that they…

  • are listening (I see / uh huh, etc.),
  • are happy to hear what was said (Great! / Wonderful! etc.),
  • are surprised (Wow! / That’s amazing! etc.),
  • feel sympathy (Oh, noI / That’s terrible! etc.)

In addition, these activities are especially conducive to asking follow-up questions.

To prepare students to use these skills during the activities, it’s helpful to do some exercises in advance.

For practice with rejoinders, see  • Conversation magic: Two most important conversation techniques (Part 1)   and  • ESL Students Won’t Progress In Conversation Skills Without This Technique. 

For practice with these, follow-up questions  • Conversation magic: Two most important techniques. (Part 2)

In addition, for intermediate-levels, during the activities, they could be expected to answer questions with details. For practice with doing this, see     Conversation Activity: Getting Students to Say More Than the Minimum

In conclusion, these popular activities can be improved in ways that will that encourage imagination, that give them reasons to actually listen to each other and to practice specific conversation strategies. In other words, they can be more than just getting students talking.

David Kehe

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