Do you ever have trouble getting your students to speak in class?
Maybe you’re learning about giving directions, or using modal verbs, or simple phonics, and it’s a struggle to get your students to speak or remember what they’ve learned?
Well look no further! I was browsing the Internet for fun games and activities to use with my students to encourage more speaking and participation during class, and I found a good ESL discussion board site that had many PowerPoint games designed for kids. Waygook.org is an ESL discussion board site based in Korea and offers many tips and other kinds of information for teachers in Korea (but also serves as a bases for ESL teachers all over Asia).
The game templates have different themes such as Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, Doraemon, and more. They are full of fun images and some even have music and animation from the game/series to keep your students engaged. The templates are blank with instructions on the first slide about how to add questions, or change images, etc. I’ve tried them out with a couple of my classes, and the kids love them!
Types of Speaking in ESL
There are various ways of speaking: imitative, responsive, intensive, interactive, and extensive. Each type is important to know and we use them at various times without even knowing it. I’ll discuss each type briefly below.
At the lowest level, students use imitative speaking (listen and repeat). Whether they truly understand what they’re saying or not, is unimportant. The point of this type of call-and-response is to get students to produce sounds and words in their second language. Choosing a few target words and simple sentences can help students work on pronunciation and fluency.
The next level of speaking is intensive speaking. Intensive speaking is getting students to produce language in a controlled setting. The teachers sets a goal for target language use, and uses different methods for students to reach those goals. An example of this would be a Q&A session centered around a topic discussed in the classroom, or reading a passage aloud from a textbook or article. Students can work to achieve grammatical or lexical mastery set to the teacher’s expectations.
Responsive is slightly more complex than intensive speaking. At this level, the dialog includes a simple question with a follow-up question or two. The task for students is to encourage them to converse in English. Conversations take place by this point but are simple in content. The teacher may need to prompt the students slightly, or use scaffolding techniques such as writing key phrases or vocabulary on a whiteboard to aid the students.
This type of speaking is slightly more complex than the others as it focuses on maintaining relationships, or for sharing information. The challenge of interpersonal speaking is the context or pragmatics. The speaker has to keep in mind the use of slang, humor, ellipsis, etc. when attempting to communicate. This is much more complex than saying yes or no or giving directions to the bathroom in a second language. It’s more improvisational speech, unlike responsive or intensive which are more planned.
Extensive communication is normally some sort of monologue. Examples include speeches, story-telling, etc., and involves a great deal of preparation. It is not typically improvisational communication. It is one thing to survive having a conversation with someone in a second language. You can rely on each other’s body language to make up for communication challenges. However, with extensive communication either the student can speak in a comprehensible way without relying on feedback or they cannot. This is a higher level of speaking that many ESL speakers must work extremely hard to achieve. It would take lots of real-world (not in the classroom) practice to master, AND do it convincingly.