Students of English often lack confidence when speaking due to the language's irregular pronunciation rules. Practicing often can help to build both the learners' confidence and competency in speaking English. Using games which require verbal responses in the classroom is an effective way of developing spoken language skills.

Card Games

Card games are an enjoyable way to practice speaking English. A set of shuffled cards displaying pairs of opposites can be placed face down on the classroom table so that no one can see what is written on them. The students then take it in turns to pick up two cards and read the words aloud to the group. If the student believes that the words are a pair of opposites they keep the cards, otherwise they return them to the pile. The game continues until all cards have been matched. The principle can also be adopted for more advanced learners of English by using cards that match phrasal verbs with synonyms, for example.

Minimal Pairs

Words which differ by only one sound are known as minimal pairs. Common examples include "sip" and "zip" and "cat" and "catch". These words often cause difficulties for students who are learning to speak English, particularly if the sound by which the words differ is one which is not present in their native language. In order to help students practice speaking these words, group them with a partner and provide a set of flashcards displaying minimal pairs. The first partner says one of the words written on the flashcard and then shows both words to his partner. His partner has to guess which word was spoken, asking the first partner to repeat it as many times as is necessary.

Twenty Questions

Students take it in turns to select a subject from a range of topics about which they are able to speak. Examples might include "food," "countries" or "animals." The first student to select a topic thinks of something relevant to that theme and writes it down. The other students then ask "yes or no" questions on that theme, trying to guess what the first student is thinking. Students earn points for asking questions which are grammatically correct, as well as ultimately guessing the correct answer. This game therefore encourages learners to practice formulating their own questions and responses on simple themes.

Whisper Circles

This game works particularly well with small groups of students where the classroom seating is arranged in a circle. The teacher chooses one student as the leader and gives her a card that has a short phrase such as "It takes about six seconds for something you drink to reach your stomach" written on it. The leader memorizes the phrase and then whispers it to the person on his right. Each person then whispers the sentence to the person next to them until it reaches the end of the circle. The final person in the group says the sentence aloud and compares it to the sentence which was written on the card. The group wins if the two sentence are the same.

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