I know how hard it is to get beginners speaking, and I’m always looking for meaningful new ways for students to practice. Just as each class is different, every year brings new students with new strengths and also new challenges. Over my years as a teacher, I have had to vary my activities to meet the needs of my students, but this doesn’t always mean creating a brand-new activity. I’m busy, and you are, too, so let’s not make more work for ourselves than we need to!
A lot of teachers out there are already using my speaking cards, and I’d love to share a handy way that I like to use them with my more adventurous groups. For those quieter classes, I’ll have an idea for them, too!
For your classes who love to speak:
1. Make a box with questions or prompts. In my class, we call this “Sur la sellette” which means “In the hot seat.” Above, you’ll see my box. For this particular box, I used one of my son’s shoe boxes and just decorated it. In the past, I’ve used whatever box I had handy (usually an empty tissue box). Make it as fancy or simple as you like. Don’t want to decorate it? It will still work just as well! 🙂
2. Cut apart question cards or speaking prompts and place them in the box. Need some? You can find many options here:
3. Call students to the front to sit “sur la sellette.” I put a stool or chair in the front of the room, but you can have the student stand if you prefer. The student “sur la sellette” will draw a prompt from the box and answer the prompt. You can set the expectations for your class. For true beginners, I have them answer in a complete sentence. For more advanced classes, I give the student a time limit and ask him/her to speak for the entire time (usually between 20-30 seconds).
For your classes who are less-excited to speak in front of others:
Use the same speaking prompts, but pass out enough cards for students to work in groups of 2, 3, or 4. Have them answer the questions with the same expectations of either a complete sentence or a time-limit, but rather than speak in front of the class, they answer to their partners. You can circulate the room and work with groups individually, and all students will be speaking, just in a less-intimidating way.
Here’s a peek at some of the prompts in my beginner speaking prompt pack available HERE at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
These aren’t questions, but rather subjects, so you will guide students to answer as you like, but the expectations should be the same. Students should discuss the prompt in a complete sentence or for a time frame. For example, for the prompt “Dans mon sac à dos,” students would tell what they have in their bag. For “mon plat préféré,” they would identify or describe their favorite dish.
This resource includes 45 beginner topics and 9 editable cards if you wish to add your own topics. Also included are 3 templates that you can use if you want to decorate your box as I have done.
These prompts can be used for so many activities in class, too. They make great bellwork or exit ticket subjects, writing prompts, or you can even make speaking stations and have students rotate around your classroom with a partner.