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
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
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
Here is an example of pictures that students can choose from to be their imagined person.
*Below is a sample of the list of questions that you could give your students:
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.