Help your students with their speaking tests

If you ask your students how they feel about their speaking tests, the answer is usually “terrified”.

Apart from constant class practice, students need to prepare on their own or with other classmates or speakers of English. This is the list of resources I elaborated for my B2 students this year:

  • Watch these videos of students taking their English exams, revise the teachers’ notes and try to improve your skills.
  • Watch these videos by the British Council, they give you advice about what to do and what not to do during your speaking test.
  • Saro Rosales, a teacher at EOI Las Palmas GC wrote an article for her students giving advice for the speaking test, don’t miss it.
  • Would you like to do a language exchange? Here you have a list of sites where you can do them.
  • Intercambio de idiomas, a website where you can find out about places to practise English with other learners and native speakers. People gather together to practise while having a drink.
  • Here you are a list of the topics you might be asked about during your exams.
  • Finally, here you have a list I wrote for my students back in 2009,

Finally, this is the list of topics they should work with if they want to succeed.

Click on the picture to enlarge it.

topics for speaking test



English Project- CEP Icod (Tenerife)

Last year, I was involved in an exciting project conceived by the Foreign Language advisor at CEP Icod (click here for the credits). The idea was to film a series of short videos showing real life situations (or better communicative learning situations) performed  by native speakers which could be used in the classroom as a teaching/learning resource. The whole project was put together on a website and launched at the beginning of this school year and it is available for anyone who wants to use it. 

In the website you will find a set of situations (at the supermarket, restaurant, in the street…)  each of which has been divided into two levels, but they are not focused on any specific educational stage. What is more, they can be easily adapted to the purposes of any lesson plan we may be working with. Also, for each of them, a list of extra resources is provided, i.e. scripts of the dialogues, an interactive visual dictionary or extra practice dialogues. 

Another interesting feature is that students can make use of all this material even outside the classroom, i.e.  working pronunciation and language in real context, recreating the dialogues and repeating them to practice rhythm and stress…And it is accessible 24/7 and free. 

Time to stop bragging about it and ask you to give it a shot and try it. If you are not convinced, tell your students. I bet they will find it useful. 

PS: the link to the website is at the top of the page, in case you haven’t guessed it. 

12 Things Happy People Do Differently

I came accross this article today on my facebook wall and I saw I could use it in class in that very moment.

By only reading its title, 12 Things Happy People Do Differently, you know it’s going to be great. The article can be found on Marc and Angel Hack Life and it’s full of other articles dealing with similar topics.

Every now and then I enjoying using activites that can cheer my students up, without having any special language purpose, though this article can be used to practise imperatives, but that’s far too easy for my B2 guys. This is my activity:

Level: B1 and above

Language:  imperatives

Skills: reading, writing, speaking

Grouping: small groups of 3-4 students

Timing: 1hour

Materials: This is un unplugged lesson, you only need the whiteboard, paper, pens, and a copy of the article per student.

Step 1

Write the title of the article on the whiteboard and ask them to brainstorm what they think that suits the topic. Then ask them to form small groups of 3-4 students and ask them to write a list with 12 items. They have 20 minutes for this.

Step 2

Every group has to share their ideas with the whole class, at the end, we develop our own class list with the most repeated items or through a votation if we don’t reach an agreement. (20 minutes)

Step 3

We give students the copy of the article, let them read it carefully and ask them to share their feelings. I’m sure the class list will differ a lot from the original one. After reading, we can ask them if they wish to make any changes on the class list. (20 minutes). If we don’t want to make the activity very long, we can ask them to read jsut the headlines, they can read the rest of the article at home.

Follow up

We can ask them to prepare a display with their list, I’m sure the advice given can be pretty useful for all of us.

Vocaroo: recording on-line

vocaroo These days some of the members of this blog have decided to take the steps of Manuel Viera (Iles en FLE) and assess our students speaking skills by podcasting. One of the difficulties with this kind of exercises is to find an easy and light way for the students to record themselves and send it to you. The name of the solution is: Vocaroo, an on-line recording service which allows the user to record themselves and later send it to a particular recipient. It also allows embedding and linking or downloading in .wav or .ogg. The only downside is that files are only stored for 2 months, time enough to assess and store it somewhere else.

Vocaroo | Record and send voice emails


In the car, a role-play

Some of days ago we talked in class about the most frequent places to have a couple discussion. And the car won. That night I designed this role-play and we performed it the following day. We didn’t focus on language, nor on accuracy, but on fluency. And we all enjoyed.

Role-plays are working very well in my classes this year. Feeling that they are somebody different, makes them overcome shyness and speak much more.

The slide might not be very clear, the left side is for one student, and the right side for another one. I didn’t give them any time to prepare their role. I arranged couples randomly, avoiding “fixed partnerships”.