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10 Speaking warm up exercises

These 10 Speaking warm up exercises are one of the easiest ways to differentiate between the extroverted and introverted students. The former will eagerly join any discussion, often with little to no prompt. The latter, on the other hand, prefer to stay quiet, and often the more the teacher tries to ‘encourage’ them the more they bottle up. This sadly translates to the language proficiency as the gregarious types naturally practice more.  

Luckily, there are techniques any good teacher can use, for instance, by starting the lesson with a good speaking warm up. This will create a more comfortable atmosphere for the shy students as they warm up. Yet even this little step of participating just a little at the beginning of the lesson may act as the metaphorical ‘breaking the ice’, encouraging them to participate more actively during the rest of the lesson.

Last Letter Word Chain

Level: A1 and above

 

The procedure:

1. Arrange your students into a circle. If your class is bigger than 10 break them down into smaller circles of up to 10 students. 6 would be the ideal number.

Note: It helps to have a prop for the current speaker such as a ball or a teddy bear, however it isn’t essential.

2. Start the game by suggesting a simple world like ‘house’ or ‘cat’. The next student has to say a word which starts on the last letter of your suggestion.

In case of the ‘house’ it would be i.e., ‘elephant’. In case of ‘cat’ it would be i.e. ‘table’.

3. The game continuous like this for few rounds.

4. Later you may introduce some rules, such as ‘only words relating to food’ or ‘only adjectives’.

Word Association

Level: A1 and above

 

The procedure:

1. Put students into groups (5 is a good number)

2. Give each group a theme such as: food, animals. Global Warming or the XX century feminism movement.

3. Students take turns in saying 1 word that associates with this theme.

For example: Global Warming

Carbon!

Ice!

Oceans!

Temperature! Etc.

4. If someone takes longer than 2-3 seconds to think of a word they are out. The last man standing wins. Then you’ll give them another theme.

Two Lines

Level: A1 and above

 

The procedure:

1. Put your students into two lines, facing each other.

2. On the board write a series of simple questions:

  • What’s your favourite colour?

  • What country would you like to visit?

  • What’s your favourite film?

Etc.

Note: While your question list can be limitless it generally works best if each student asks only 3 questions. Also instruct them to create their own outside of your list.

3. The two students from each line face each other and in a quick succession ask each other these questions (and provides answers of course).

4. When they are done they move to the end of the line and the next pair comences. It’s sort of like a speaking duel or a speaking Dance Off.

English Bullseye

Level: A1 and above

What you’ll need: 1 sticky ball

 

The procedure:

1. Draw a large circle on the black board. Next draw 2 or 3 smaller circles inside, creating a crude version of the ‘dart board’.

2. Toss the sticky ball to one student and ask them a question (perhaps one relating to the lesson).

I.e. What’s a synonym to ‘fantastic’?

3. If student answers correctly they get to throw the sticky ball at the board and see how many points they score.

4. Write down their name and score on the board next to the circles and toss the ball to the next student.

Overthrow the King!

Level: A1 and above

This one is great to practice vocabulary.

Prep time: 5 mins, make the crown.

What you’ll need: crown for the king. Best made from 2 pieces of yellow paper taped together. Use your own head for measurement reference.

 

The procedure:

1. First, ask your students to come to the blackboard (all at once) and write as much vocabulary words as possible. The whole board filled with words is perfect.

2. Second, set up 2 chairs facing away from the board.

3. Pick one student to become the King. Sit them down on one of the chairs and put the crown on their head.

4. Now ask Who wants to challenge the King? Pick one person and position them on the other chair, next to the King.

5. Stand behind them and point to one word.

6. The rest of the class gives the two students suggestions as to what this word is.

If the King is the first one to guess the Challenger leaves and someone else takes their place

If the Challenger guesses 2 words in a row they become the new King.

Guess the Rule

Level: A2 and above

 

Setup: classroom size

 

Less than 11 students – play individually

12 – 15 – pairs or groups of 3

Over 15 – groups of 5-6

 

The procedure:

 

1. Tell one student (or a group) to leave the classroom. No eavesdropping!!

 

2. The rest of the class comes up with a Rule. At first it might be hard for them so you’re expected to suggest the initial few rules..

 

Here are a few examples:

 

  • People with glasses say YES, people without say only NO.

  • Elbows on the desk say YES, elbows off the desk say only NO (which means the can alternate).

  • Boys say YES, girls say NO.

  • If you smile you say YES, if you frown you say NO.

 

3. After everyone is 100% clear on the Rule invite the students back in. They must walk around classroom asking closed questions (ones when answer can only be YES or NO). The rest must answer according to the Rule no matter the question.

 

 

It’s funny how teenagers will always ask about love crushes.


4. If the Rule is discovered the individual or a group gets a point, if not they fail and next group leaves the classroom.

What’s On My Chest?

Level: A2 and above

This one’s incredibly fun.

 

Setup:

1. Prepare half the amount of A4 papers as there are students in your class. Gg

2. Then cut them in half.

3. Give one half to every student and tell them to write 5 (or 10 if you’d like them to play longer) completely random words on it. Make sure the words are rather large.

Note: Make sure they don’t show this page to anyone else.

4. Then put it face down so that the words are hidden and give this paper to someone else.

 

The procedure:

1. When everyone has somebody else’s paper with words in front of them instruct them to place it on their chests WITHOUT LOOKING AT THE WORDS.

If all done correctly, everyone will have a page of 5 words on their chest that everyone else can read.

2. Now their task is to walk around the classroom trying to guess the words on their chest.

Note: To make it more smooth make sure that everyone is carrying a marker or at least a pen so that they can cross out the words they’ve guessed. Note: they should not do their own crossing as they’ll see the other words.

Roll a Random Association

Level: A2 and above

Prep time: 30 seconds to grab the dice

What you’ll need: 2-10 dice pieces

 

The procedure:

1. Divide the class into groups of 2-5 people.

2. Instruct each person to create a list of 6 random words. Tell them to number them 1 to 6. Each student should then have their own list of unique words.

3. Distribute the dice to all groups.

Note: Each group should have at least 1 dice piece, however, I found it easier for students to have more dice per group.

 

Variation 1: duel

4. Two people throw the dice and enter a duel. For example Student A threw 4 which is ‘4. Ice cream’ on her list, whereas Student B threw 2 which is ‘2. Airplane’ on his list.

5. Now each person needs to create a scenario that involves both words, i.e. I never ate ice cream on an airplane!, I once was eating ice cream and a plane flew and scared me and I dropped it!

6. This could be enough or the whole group could vote on the best answer which would encourage students to be more creative.

 

Variation 2: story

4. The whole group casts the dice and then they have to create a story from all the words they got.

5. Next, all groups present their stories to the rest of the class. In my experience, due to the randomness of the words, most of the stories end up quite hilarious and students have a lot of fun during this exercise.

 

Variation 3: link

4. Only two students cast the dice, however the whole group participates.

For example, the words drawn are ‘animal’ and ‘house’.

5. Now the whole group has to figure out a one-word connection between these two i.e. ‘pet’ or ‘nest’ or ‘jungle’.

Note: Some connections might be so vague that they will require an explanation from the author which encourages conversation.

Country Charades

Level: B1 and above

Simple idea but students absolutely love it.

Prep time: 15 min

What you need: small paper slips with countries’ names. As many as possible!

 

The procedure:

1. Put them into groups.

2. Shuffle the paper slips on a flat surface in the middle of the classroom.

3. One team representative goes to the front and has 2 minutes to score as many countries as possible. The country is scored when their team guesses the name of the country.

Everything is allowed: explaining, drawing, miming – except mentioning the name of the country as a noun or an adjective, i.e. England, English.

Note: to make it more fun, add some ‘fake’ countries in the mix such as: Narnia, Mordor, Mars, the Internet, Atlantis, Shire, Matrix, Westeros, Antarctica, etc.

Example of 65 Countries:

England, Scotland, Ireland, China, Japan, Italy, France, USA, Canada, North Korea, Australia, Egypt, South Korea, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Vatican, Russia, Mongolia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, Indonasia, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Jamaica, Cuba, Bermuda, Caribbean, Monaco, Poland, Czechia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, India, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, South Sudan, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Kazakhstan, Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Morocco, Portugal, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, Panama, Venezuela.

Philosophical Questions

Level: B1 and above

 

The procedure:

 

1. Divide the class into groups of minimum 2 people.

 

2. Dictate 5 ambiguous questions to each group, one word per turn.

 

Question Examples: Why are we on Earth? Why is the sky blue? Why haven’t we met aliens yet? What happens after death? Why are fruits sweet? What is love? What makes a great person?

 

The goal is to answer these questions in the most creative/funny way possible.

 

What happens after death?

We go to an afterlife KFC and have to forever wait in line to order our fried chicken.

(actual example from one of my students)


3. Each round the groups read their answers out loud and then vote for the best suggestion. Alternatively they can vote on a creativity scale 1-3 for each answer and the most points wins.

2 Comments

  • All activities are very Interesting .By doing warm up activities before starting teaching the lessons,the students will be happily ready to learn what his or her teacher teaches.

    Reply

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