Speaking board games

Speaking board game (opinions)For speaking board games, you need a dice (or do you prefer to say 'die'?) and a copy of the game board for 3-4 students. If you can enlarge the board to A3 size it will look better. You can get them to use coins as counters, but I prefer to get students to draw a little picture of themself on a scrap of paper to move around the board.

Anyway, students roll the die/dice and move forwards that number of spaces. They should answer the question (or in the opinions game, say whether they agree or disagree). They should always be encouraged to give reasons and examples. To push them to speak more, you could set a time limit (e.g. 1 minute) for how long they should talk and say they have to move back two spaces if they don't talk for that amount of time.

Opinions Speaking Game - questions suitable for good pre-int and above.

B2 First exam speaking

This game gives practice of part 1 of the speaking exam. In this game, each group of 3-4 students gets a set of numbers 1-40 (cut up), and a copy of the game board. They take it in turns to pick up a number and answer the question.

B2 First (speaking part 1) game

Pick a question

You need a pack of playing cards and a copy of the question sheet for each group of 3-5 students. Students take it in turns to pick a card and answer the question which it corresponds to. For example, the King of Spades is "What was your favourite toy when you were a child?". A higher level class could write their own questions (one group writes Qs for hearts, another for diamonds and so on).

Example question sheet

Mini debates (which is better?)

Which is better: love or money? (mini debates)Give students two topics (e.g. love + money) and they discuss which is more important or better than the other. After a couple of minutes, give another two nouns to compare. You could make it competitive by assigning opinions - student A must argue that love is better while B argues for money, with a third student to act as referee and decide the winner of each debate. When you give instructions, you'll probably need to reinforce the idea that they might be arguing against their real opinion - I usually do this by picking a confident student, asking if they prefer cats or dogs, and when they say 'dogs', say 'no actually I know you really prefer cats - why?' Hopefully they'll play along and think of some reasons. After they have debated a few different topics, get feedback and find out the students' real opinions.

There are various ways you can get the word pairs. You could write the words on the board and give students about two minutes to discuss each pair, before crossing them out and moving to the next pair. Alternatively, you could get students to write everyday objects on slips of paper, deal them out between them, and then they choose which ones to debate with (a bit like the card game top trumps). This will generate some rather random discussions - for example comparing paper to contact lenses. You could also do this as vocabulary revision - get students to write words from previous lessons on slips of paper, then they pick random pairs to discuss. 

Here are some ideas which I usually find generate some good discussion:

  • love – money
  • cars – trains
  • summer – winter
  • the city – the countryside
  • sport – music
  • cats – dogs
  • vampires – werewolves
  • toothpaste – soap
  • camping - sightseeing
  • cigarettes – alcohol (hopefully this discussion is which is less bad, not which is better!)

Would I lie to you?

This is a TV show where celebrities tell anecdotes and other panellists ask questions to guess if the story is true or a lie (follow this link for an example on YouTube). It's lots of fun to get your students to prepare their own anecdotes in the same way.

Just a minute

This is a staple of EFL classes, adapted from the Radio 4 comedy series in which comedians have 1 minute to speak on a subject, and other panellists interrupt them (and take over the topic) if they repeat themselves or deviate from the subject. Whoever is speaking at the end of the minute wins!

Mini discussions

This works really well, even at low levels (I've even done it with A1 level students). Write a topic on the board (I always start with bananas). Then elicit what they know about bananas. If they don't say anything, ask questions so they can see that even simple facts are fine (what colour are they? where are they from? how often do you eat them? do you like them? how much do they cost? is it true that monkeys eat them?). Then write another topic on the board. Tell them they have two minutes to try to think of 5-10 things they can say about the topic. After two minutes (or longer if they have lots of ideas), stop them and give them another topic. I usually keep going for about ten minutes, then stop the activity and elicit their ideas on each topic, following up with correction of any interesting or useful vocabulary or grammar.

The best topic my students ever discussed here was toilets - it turned out my class of A2 Japanese, Spanish, French and Saudi students were disgusted with toilets in the UK! Some other good light-hearted topics are pizza, the USA, chewing gum, ghosts, colds, insects, computer games and Valentine's Day but you could get more serious if you want with things like vaccinations, oil and marijuana.