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One Word Speeches – skills activity

One Word Speeches is a very simple activity which needs very little preparation but which is highly effective in giving your students practice in all four skills, especially listening and speaking.

It is very flexible and in different forms it works for both beginners right up to highly advanced students, for writing as well as speaking.

Explaining the Activity

The first time you run this activity with a class you can explain it on the whiteboard to make sure the students have a full understanding of how the game works.

Explain to the class that you are going to make a speech about what you did at the weekend. (This is just an example of course, any kind of subject matter will do to suit the circumstances.)

Write up on the board the opening:

At the weekend I…

Now ask any random student for the next word:

decided

And another random student for the next word:

decided to

And another random student for the next word:

decided to visit

And another random student for the next word:

decided to visit the

And another random student for the next word:

decided to visit the zoo

And another random student for the next word:

decided to visit the zoo where

And so on. Each student adds a new word to the speech, gradually building it up. Of course if a word is grammatically wrong you can stop and ask why it is wrong and work out – with the student – a better word to put in. But feel free to allow strange slightly tangential words which will only serve to make your class think harder to continue the speech.

The speech, of course, can go in many different directions. What tends to happen is that each student has their own idea of where a sentence is going and if the next student puts in an unexpected (but correct) word then the others will have to adjust their own ideas of what could follow.

Running the Activity

Once the class is familiar with the way in which the activity works, split the class into groups of threes. Give them a subject they are going to talk about in the group. This can be almost anything.

  • about my family
  • China
  • where my teacher will be in 10 years time

And then set them going. Quite simply they sit in their groups looking at each other and take it in turns to add a word to the speech; it can get very obscure and very interesting!

As teacher, you should walk around the class listening to what is happening and keeping an ear open for good stories!

Variations on a Theme

  • the speech can be written down by one of the students and then read out to the rest of the class
  • the speech can be turned into a written activity; this is useful for beginner students who have the chance to see what has gone on before and understand it a little better

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