Friday, February 29, 2008

Two Useful English Teaching Tips to Help Motivate Your EFL Language Learners to Speak in Class

Tired of Dialogues?
While we’ve been discussing some additional, unique ways of motivating your English as a foreign language or other foreign language learners to engage in oral discourse or speaking activities, here are two more ways you can use to deviate from the all-too-common “dialogues” so prevalent in today’s English and foreign language classes.

1. Give a Profile
Most people like to talk about themselves, fortunately or unfortunately – depending on the situation. You can then take advantage of this natural tendency to motivate your learners to speak in class, talking about themselves, their family, their friends or some other personal aspect which they’re willing to share. From a simple profile to a more extensive narrative, the field is open for their speaking practice. Just be sure to set time, language use or other constraints that may be necessary.

2. The “How to…”
Each of us as unique individuals has a distinct set of knowledge and skills. Another way to motivate our English language learners to speak is by encouraging them to explain how to do something that they may have a unique knowledge of or skill in doing. Can one of your learners paint, play chess or poker well, write computer programs or consistently win playing computer games? How about ride a horse, camel or elephant? Maybe fix cars or motorcycles, catch fish or train animals. Whatever special skill they might have, encourage them to talk about it just like the late radio and television actor Jack Webb (pictured above) used to do.

Allow Them to Choose

Using one of these formats, you can likely always get your English or foreign language learners to speak in class, provided you allow them to choose the format they prefer, you give them accurate, detailed guidelines on what is or is not acceptable for each format, and you allow them a reasonable amount of time to prepare. If possible, include some time to do a quick scan or review of their presentation before they present their material to help fine tune the work. This will bolster their confidence and help to minimize their fears of making serious mistakes in front of the other learners – their peers. Most learners are much more afraid of being “laughed at” or “mocked” by their peers than they are of you, the English teacher.

Try allowing oral discourse or speaking practice in your English or foreign language classes using a variety of different formats like these or others you may have in mind. By doing so you’ll probably have far fewer problems with getting your English language learners motivated to speak with more fluency in class.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at:


Anonymous said...

don't forget about

Anonymous said...


Jon Bischke said...

Good stuff Larry. Thanks for your post. I've been talking to a lot of our English tutors at lately to try to find out what the best teachers do. This would seems to be a really good addition to our conversation.

Anonymous said...

I am an English Teacher in Japan. I am in the JET program and created a site for teachers to share ideas. If you have anything to share, or wouldn't mind checking the site out and giving me a little feedback I would love it. If you have ANY questions comments please let me know! The site is at

and you can email me at my personal email or at the site

Anonymous said...

Already commented on the yesterday’s blog that talking about oneself is a way of integrating students in the practice of speaking in English, it is also very important to allow each to explain our way to do the things and it is more comfortable than talking about oneself all time and this is to recognize that we all carry a prior knowledge within ourselves

Larry said...

I had a look at the site at: and found it to be an interesting, useful resource for EFL teachers wanting to post or pick up some ready-made activities for their English language learners.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch