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Maximising speaking opportunities

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With remote teaching maximising speaking opportunities can be particularly difficult where the sessions are more teacher led and teacher talking time is increased.

While speaking skills can best be learned in a natural face to face scenario, this may not be true for coy and shy teens. Online classes can be a silver lining to them. There’s no doubt that speaking activities like group discussions, pair work etc can be challenging to monitor owing to multiple break out rooms. However, activities such as role plays and public speaking if done using synchronous and asynchronous tools can be a good bet in a virtual setting for all types of learners. Below are some ideas/practical activities that can help maximize speaking opportunities.

1. Public Speaking for Teens

Aim:  To improve fluency, provide practice and feedback

Using asynchronous tools such as Edmodo, teacher and students can together come up with topics relevant to the real world. The students can choose one, and prepare a speech and record it on their devices. The instructions and guidelines in terms of preparation, presentation, format ,content and timings can be shared by the teacher as pre-task. A hand out of assessment criteria and norms can also be shared before hand.

 During the virtual class, students are put in groups of 4 (break out rooms), take turns to watch the recordings, reflect and make notes on their own performance as well as their peer against a set criterion or what to look for. For example, on things like

• Am I loud and clear?

• Do I fumble or reformulate my language?

• Do I do anything annoying or distracting with my voice, gestures, posture, etc.?

 The teacher can hover around the break out rooms to observe all. Later students share their observations and feedback in their groups.


  • The activity caters to class of mix abilities, for example often the stronger students speak while the weaker ones are able to hide. This might not be the case here. Preparation gives all  confidence and a head start . With  preparation students get some time to internalise and practice speaking the language.
  • Pre-recorded speeches can be less intimidating and stage fear can be eliminated. Students get enough time to speak and discuss feedback.
  • Gives them an insight into what they do well and what is to be worked upon, good way to focus on some specific aspects of performance and establish areas to work on.
  • Develops self- reflection skills. Students can be one another’s resource and critics. Clear and unbiased opinion from peer.
  • Lends a different interaction pattern, and takes the spotlight off the teacher and puts it onto the learners.


2. Activity with pictures

 Students can be given a pre task to bring a picture. Put them in groups of 4 or 5 (break out rooms). Taking turns, students screenshare the picture and nominate a mate to describe or talk  for 30 seconds, the listeners ask one follow up question.

This activity is helpful to engage and maintain attention as anyone can be caught unaware. Students will be alert and attentive. The follow up questions can lead to conversation and mini chats. Learners have a conversation with each other which is not based on a course book or pre-ordained by the teacher. Teaches them how to lead and be led by someone other than the teacher.


3. Quick warmers/extempore (In pair or groups of 4)

I’d rather be……

A pound or a rupee.

A child or an adult.

An apple or an orange.

A river or a sea.

A Harrapan or a Roman.


4. Critical thinking speaking activity:

Students see a set of controversial statements on the screen very briefly. They have 2 minutes to choose three to discuss in their groups. The students discuss each statement for five minutes and then vote whether they agree or disagree with the statement, noting down the reasons for their decision. When all three statements have been discussed, each group chooses a spokesperson to present the group's ideas to the class. After each group has presented, the class vote for best arguments /decision by votes.

 Statements could be anything from school life to socio-cultural issues.For example: Home-schooling is better than going to school, exams should be online, we should ban eating meat, Climate change is the world’s biggest problem, citizens who do not vote should be fined, should performance-enhancing drugs be allowed in sports?

This activity helps students use their critical thinking skills to discuss the problem and explore solutions. It generates awareness and sensitises them towards world issues.