How to GET even YOUNGER STUDENTS or ELEMENTARY students SPEAKING EASILY!
Speaking is the least practised skill due to limited vocabulary, shyness and a tendency to be ashamed of making mistakes. Yet it is the most important skill for communicating and the one which one needs most when travelling and on the job, be it face-to-face or over the phone.
So speaking is very important right from the start, even with limited knowledge of vocabulary and tenses. Getting the mouth to shape the words and making mistakes is fundamental to building confidence and practising pronunciation.
I always encourage speaking from the start even for elementary students and young children. But very often they are at a loss for ideas of what to say.
So I decided to get about 80 small pictures and laminate them, dividing them into two categories:
I put a small piece of rough velcro on the back of each and made ‘velcro boards’ with the soft part of the velcro so that students can stick the two pictures on the board next to each other. It takes a little preparation but they can be reused infinitely, creating new sentences every time.
(‘Velcro boards’ also allow students to quickly create ‘stories’ with a series of pictures or daily routines which they can then tell the rest of the class.)
The two categories are spread out onto a desk, category 1 on the left and category 2 on the right.
Students have to simply choose two pictures: one from each category. They then invent a sentence in whichever tense you are practising to describe what is happening.
Younger children also enjoy making up silly sentences (e.g. ‘A dolphin is flying in the sky.’) but as long as they know the meaning it adds up to a little creative fun.
More advanced students can enrich the sentences with adverbs, adjectives and perhaps why this event is taking place:
I hope you find this useful.
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My name is Susan Brodar, born in London into a multilingual family and brought up bilingual English / Italian.