Speaking is a huge part of your English language learning journey. As an ESL student the likelihood is that you will learn with other ESL students. Sometimes group speaking activities can feel a bit intimidating because you don’t know what to say, or you don’t know enough about the topic you have to talk about. Luckily, my lovely reader, paired work is a great way to have your opportunity to shine in and out of the classroom. Here are some of our favourite paired speaking activities for you to do with your classmates.
The teacher gives you a topic and you both pick a side and make 3 points either for or against. The topic will be something inconsequential like which is the best tube line or the best thing to eat for breakfast. You don’t have to take this one too seriously, unless you have a passion for the random topic that the teacher gives you.
The basic aim for this, is for students to interview each other in pairs and then present their findings to the class. For beginners this activity is great to find out about their family or their personal biography, their native country etc. It is a great for intemediate students to practise using different tenses. For example you can find out about holidays, life events childhood or their future plans. Finally, for advanced students it could be adapted into a murder mystery or a plan for an imaginary problem. This way, students can practice using more complex structures.
Two truths and a lie
This is a great speaking activity that you can do or make variations of the game. I don’t like to lie personally. It’s bad karma but the more lies you tell, the more interesting it becomes. The way to play is that a student writes a secret and two lies and their partner has three questions to determine which one is the truth. You can eliminate questions, add more, whatever you want. It’s a great activity to practise question forms.
Another great paired speaking activity where you can play a character and do anything you like. Ideally, the teacher will give you a brief and you’ll stick to it. But I’ve seen some students take this to another level before. A very fun activity for ESL students that are willing to use their imagination.
This is a great speaking activity where the first student chooses someone famous, like a singer or a politician, or even someone not famous like someone in the class, and the other students have a limited number of questions in order to find out the identity! They have to be yes or no closed questions. This is a fantastic way to practise the interrogative and have some fun while you’re at it!
The yes/no game
Quite an ironic title considering the aim of the game is to answer questions using any other language but yes or no. This paired speaking activity requires you to come up with a battery of questions to ask your partner. This allows you to practise your writing as well as the interrogative structure, your fluency when speaking and your spontaneity. If you are answering the questions, it allows you to diversify your responsiveness, search your memory for vocabulary, and to practice your spoken agility. I wonder how long you last before you say yes or no.
Last but not least, this fun activity can be played online as well as in person. It helps if the student that isn’t drawing has a picture that they can describe. The aim of this task is to describe an image using prepositions. The listener has to draw the image following the speakers directions. This usually results in a strange looking version of whatever image you’re describing. It is really funny to see the other person’s drawings.
Here are some of our favourite paired speaking activities for you to do with your classmates. Some more speaking activities to get you improving your speaking ability in your classes, either online or face-to-face. So next time your teacher suggests an activity, these are the reasons you should put your all in. No matter if you like one activity more than another, they are all there to help you improve.