As an ESL teacher, you often find yourself preparing or feeling guilty that you’re not preparing for your classes. These ESL speaking ideas can be used to help your class discuss when to prepare and when to do things on a whim. These ideas are suitable for higher level classes and can be adapted to private tutoring where you take on some of the roles.
Write the following quote on the board and get your students’ first impressions on the quote. At this time, you can explain the vocabulary and ask students if they agree or disagree with the statement. No matter what their decision is, make sure they can give an example or reasoning behind their answer. After that, you can use the supplied questions to move the conversation forward.
Most of my decisions in life seem absent-minded but inevitable.
What does it mean to be absent-minded?
If something is inevitable, does it mean you can change the result?
What types of decisions are ok to make on a whim?
What do you consider when making decisions?
What is more difficult- making decisions or having them made for you?
Once you’ve warmed up the class with a general idea of what they will be talking about, lead them into the role play. If they haven’t had done many role plays before, be sure to set up some ground rules such as each person should be involved in the conversation and a minimum amount of exchanges that should happen. Before starting the role play, each student should list or more points to justify their position.
Student A has decided to run a marathon which is only 3 days away. He/She has not done any training for the race. Student B is Student A’s friend who is trying to persuade Student A not to run the marathon.
Teaching higher level classes can be challenging once your students have gained a significant amount of vocabulary. To improve their ability to communicate in various situations, you can start using sentence structures (otherwise known as lexical chunks) to help them take more sophisticated ideas and express them in ways that native speakers would. Here are a few sentence structure ideas for the role play.
Running this marathon will mean a lot to me because ________.
While I respect your decision, have you considered that _______?
Give students 10-20 minutes to go through the role play. Circulate around the room making note of any mistakes or more sentence structures that could be useful for your students. Since role plays can often be open ended and difficult to assess, spend time coaching students through their role plays to make them more in depth.
Divide your class into manageable sized groups of no more than 10 people in each group. Using the notes from the role play, half of the groups should present an argument in favor of running the marathon. The other half should present an argument against running the marathon. Each student should be expected to present 1 or more reasons for their argument.
Instruct your students to start a sentence structure notebook to bring to each class. For each activity you do, you should present at least 2 new useful structures for your students to memorize. The more advanced your class, the more authentic structures you will want to help them communicate more effectively.
An activity like this should be extensive enough for an hour long class. As the teacher, be sure to concentrate on the language that’s being used, taking notes of what could be improved. If you still have a few minutes left in class, you can ask your students if they would ever participate in an activity like a marathon and why they think others do.
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