If you teach regular conversation and speaking classes, or if you try to integrate (as you should) conversation/speaking breaks into your other classes, you probably struggle to constantly create new and engaging activities for your students.
Choose Seasonal Activities for More Productive Speaking
Naughty or Nice
Explain how parents tell their children that Santa Claus only gives presents to “good” children, and that they use this tool to convince their children to do chores or to act properly. Create a list of ten questions that are culturally specific to your particular students as to whether they were “bad” or “good”. For example, one might be “I washed the dishes for my mother.” Write the questions on the board, or make a hand out. Have students work in pairs and ask each other the questions, recording never, sometimes, or always for each. Nevers get zero points, sometimes one point, and always two points. A score below 10 is naughty and above 10 nice. See where the class falls as a whole!
Ball Drop Quick Resolutions
This is a timed countdown game based on the American tradition of a ball dropping for a minute in New York on New Year’s Eve. Find a minute counter, or use your stopwatch/cell phone. Give students 5 minutes to write down what their New Year’s resolutions are for the coming year. Tell them they will be timed and each has to talk for a minute, so they need at least three. Then have them share one by one with the timer clicking. Drop a ball when their time ends.
Rudolph Reindeer Games
Teach the names of Santa’s reindeer. Better yet, use the famous Rudolph song that lists all of their names at the beginning. Write their names horizontally on the board, and ask students to form a line. Under each name, in the order of the song or in the order you wrote them, students take turns writing a word that begins with the first letter of the reindeer name, like boy under Blitzen. They then have to use that word in a sentence, like “The boy went to school.” If they can write a word and say a sentence without stalling, they stay in the line. If they blank, they have to sit down. The last one in the game wins.
Prepare little papers or cards with family member words, like mom, dad, grandmother, brother, etc., and put them in a hat or bag. Have students pick a name from the hat. Then, they should go around in a circle and discuss what they would give that family member for the holidays and why. If they pulled brother and do not have one, ask them to pick another paper. This is great for practicing family member vocabulary and simple sentences for your beginners!
Build a Snowman
Ask students to think of three wishes they have for some sort of concept, like a better world, a richer future for themselves, or better restaurants in their city. Ask them to cut a piece of paper in three slices, of three different sizes, and to put their highest priority on the big piece, the second highest on the medium piece, and the third highest on the small one. They could alternatively put them in order of difficulty to achieve the wish or some sort of other ordering as well. Have them crumple the papers in balls, pass around tape, and have them form a wish-man snowman. Then they can deconstruct the men one by one and discuss their wishes and ordering.
How Many Candy Canes…
This is a good game for little kids that you might teach. Buy a box of candy canes (if you can), or have students draw and color candy canes based on an example you give. Give a set number to each student, such as five. Then, write down “how many” questions on the board, such as “how many sisters do you have?” Students, in pairs or groups of four, take turns asking each other questions (like Go Fish), and receive the number of candy canes from the other player for their answer. If a player is asked how many sisters and has two, for example, she has to give two candy canes to the asker. The last person at the table with canes wins and gets to keep all but one for each of the other players!
Ask students a question about what they might wish for if they could have one wish. Have students write down that wish on a blank piece of paper and make a snowflake out of folding a paper into a square and cutting small designs from the corner and edges (do not let them cut too big so that their wishes become illegible). Have them put the wishes in a box, and each student one by one comes to the front of the class and reads a wish and has to guess whose it is. If they guess wrong, they put it back in the box. If they guess right, the wisher has to explain why they chose that wish in a few sentences.
If you are having trouble coming up with activities to feed your speaking and conversation sessions, or if you want to make class more festive for the holiday season, try some of these activities!
Your students will be more engaged if you give them an interesting pretense.