5 Real-World Speaking Activities for the EFL Classroom
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The bottom line for teaching English as a Foreign Language is communication in English. This is usually the reason our students find themselves in our classrooms. Of course, some may need English to take exams or write business emails or listen to university lectures, but for the most part, our students consider speaking to be the most important skill they need to get to grips with. This is why we’ve compiled our favourite real-world speaking activities for the EFL classroom – keep reading to be inspired!
After all, this is most likely what they need their English the most for. So it’s a shame when we find classrooms, where the only speaking students are doing, is repeating after the teacher, answering grammar questions, or reading a simple dialogue.
Where is the reality in these activities?
Our students come to our classrooms to learn the language they can find useful in real life, outside the classroom. This is what we need to give them. We need to provide our students with the language they will need for a situation, help them understand the language, and then provide a simulation of that situation. Our students can then practice these conversational situations in the safety of the classroom before they need to utilize them in a real English-speaking context.
If the only speaking they’re doing is drilling or answering questions or talking about grammar, then we have a problem.
Rather, we should identify situations that suit the target language we want to teach (and our students need to learn) and create activities that are accurate representations of these situations for the classroom. In other words, we need real-world speaking activities that we can then adapt to the EFL classroom.
5 Real-World Speaking Activities for the EFL Classroom
Here are a few ideas for real-world speaking activities you can use in the EFL classroom.
For this activity, students will need to watch the news or read a local newspaper. In groups, they must decide on a few stories they want to report on and write down notes on their story. In class, each group must present their news stories to the class.
This activity incorporates authentic materials and requires the students to narrate a story. Although the context may not be exactly how it might happen in real life (unless they’re planning to be news anchors!) telling stories is something we do naturally in everyday life.
In this activity, the students will interview each other. Each student will be given the chance to be interviewed. However, they won’t be interviewed by one person, but by the whole class. As the “celebrity” takes to the “stage”, their classmates can ask them questions about their life – past, present, and future. For this, it makes sense for them to use true information rather than pretending to be someone they’re not, but they must think of a realistic reason that they are famous – i.e. they can ride a unicycle, they’ve stayed up all night or they won a spelling bee when they were twelve.
This activity mimics real life because we are always asking people questions about themselves. In the classroom we can get stuck asking “Where are you from?” and “Why are you learning English?”. This activity gives students the chance to ask questions they would usually ask their friends or people they have just met – for example, “When did you learn to do that?”, “Are you a morning or an evening person?” and “How did you become so good at spelling?”.
Scenes from a Hat
This is an improvisation activity. Write down a number of familiar everyday scenes that occur between two or more people – for example, a son arguing with his mother about him smoking, a customer complaining to a waiter about their food, a daughter telling her parents she’s pregnant, or a couple on their first date. In groups let the students discuss the different situations first and think about what could be said in each. There will be many different interpretations of each situation and that’s good. Once this has been done, the teacher can pick students who then choose a situation out of a hat i.e. at random. They must then act out this situation without discussing it first with their partners.
This activity allows the students some preparation but essentially requires them to think on their feet. There is every chance they may end up in such a situation (ok, maybe not all of them!) and this will help them feel more confident getting into discussions off the cuff.
Read more: The Importance of Role Plays
Your students might not necessarily find themselves speed-dating in English (or maybe they will!) but the situation provides great practice with a very common language. When you think about it, speed-dating requires you to find out as much as you can about a person in a short space of time. To do this, you need to ask questions about their personal life, while at the same time be polite, friendly, and interesting. Doing this activity gives your students practice with making small talk and asking personal questions.
For this activity, arrange the students so that they are seated in pairs – if possible, each pair at their own table. Before the activity starts, give the students some time to think of possible questions they could ask. Then, pair up the students and give them five minutes to talk to each other. After five minutes, clap your hands or sound a buzzer and the students must rearrange themselves into new pairs and the activity starts again.
In the real world, there are many times we can find ourselves debating an issue with a friend, acquaintance, or colleague. It’s also a brilliant activity for the classroom. Debating is an opportunity to agree and disagree with somebody politely, while also putting forward our ideas and opinions and questioning others.
For a classroom debate, pick a controversial statement. Divide the class into groups and each group into two more groups. Each group must have statements who agree and disagree with the statement. Spend some time looking at appropriate language to interrupt politely and share opinions. Give the students time to write a few key points of their opinions, then give them time to debate. After a few minutes join two groups together and let them do the exercise again. Keep repeating this until the class is divided into two groups and you are having a class debate that involved everyone.
There you are, five activities that bring a bit more of the real-world into your EFL classroom. Just because we’re in a classroom doesn’t mean we can’t be in the real world too.
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- You have objected to the processing (see below), and we need to decide whether the legitimate grounds we have to process the information override your legitimate interests.
Processing you think is unlawful
- If you tell us that you think we are processing your personal information unlawfully, but you do not want the information to be erased, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of that information.
- We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the processing is unlawful, and may also ask that you provide evidence to support this view.
Processing of personal information you think is inaccurate
- You can tell us if you think the personal information we are processing about you is factually inaccurate. You can require us to restrict how we use your personal information until we can verify the accuracy of the information. We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the information is inaccurate, and may also ask that you provide some supporting evidence of the alleged inaccuracy.
- If we find that the personal information we are processing about you is inaccurate, we will take appropriate steps to correct the information.
Personal information is no longer needed by Everything TEFL Ltd but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that Everything TEFL Ltd securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to Everything TEFL Ltd collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think Everything TEFL Ltd has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the Everything TEFL Ltd processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the Everything TEFL Ltd has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, Everything TEFL Ltd is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the Everything TEFL Ltd.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to Everything TEFL Ltd, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
Everything TEFL Ltd
28 – 32 Pembroke Street,
Republic of Ireland
Telephone: +353 (1) 554 6227
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.