Teaching Tips Tuesday: Creative Ways to Get Students Talking in the English Classroom

Teaching Tips Tuesday: Creative Ways to Get Students Talking in the English Classroom

So much goes into putting together an appealing learning environment. Packing a lesson full of entertaining activities and incorporating a motivational reward system are just a few of the necessary pieces.

One of the biggest challenges Greenheart Travel English teachers seem to face abroad is getting students to speak the language they’re learning. Mainly out of fear of making a mistake, or nervousness over being the first to volunteer.

Coming up with fun activities, such as ways to randomly select students to speak, keeps everyone on their toes. Such a strategy is essential for assessing knowledge, maintaining fairness, and getting students of all ages and levels to actually converse.

Here are five creative ways to get students talking:


“Dice Roll”

Materials: You will need two or more dice.

How to use dice to choose students:

  • Roll two or more dice (depending on how many students are in your class).
  • Keep the number rolled a secret.
  • Give students the option of saying one, two, or three numbers in a row.
  • This continues down a row, or around the room, until one student says the number you rolled.
  • He or she then needs to say whatever it is you’re practicing in English.
  • Start over with the next student in line.
  • Continue doing this until all students have had a chance to guess numbers, and when at least several have been selected to speak.

Recommendation: Let the student who said the correct number roll the dice each time.


  • Make sure students begin counting at two or three, depending on how many dice are rolled. For two dice they should begin at two. For three dice they should start at three and so on.
  • This activity works best in medium-sized classes of 15-20 students. It could potentially take too long with larger groups.


“Popsicle Stick Selectors”

Materials: You will need enough Popsicle sticks to match the number of students in your class, a permanent marker, and a container such as a jar, bag or basket big enough to hold the sticks.

How to use Popsicle sticks to select students:

  • Write numbers on one end of the Popsicle sticks.
  • Number your students.
  • Pick a Popsicle stick.
  • The student with the same number as the Popsicle stick that was drawn must practice something in English.
  • Repeat this as many times as needed.


  • Allow a different student to choose the Popsicle sticks each time.
  • You could also do this activity with numbered pieces of paper, dice, or Ping-Pong balls instead of using Popsicle sticks.

Note: Selecting students this way goes quickly and works well when two or more are needed to talk at the same time.


“Chopstick Pick”

Materials: You will need enough wooden chopsticks for the amount of students you have and a marker.

How to use chopsticks to pick students:

  • Color the ends of some of the chopsticks, but not all.
  • Hold the chopsticks and walk around the classroom to have each student take one.
  • Cover the ends of the chopsticks as students are picking so they can’t see which ends are colored.
  • Once everyone in the class has a chopstick, inform the students that those with the colored ends need to practice saying something in English.

Recommendation: In order to maintain excitement and suspense, switch this up each time you decide to use this activity to randomly select students. For example: Instead of having the students who picked the colored chopsticks go, have those without the colored ends talk.

Note: Here are many other uses for wooden chopsticks in the English classroom!

“Catch the Bunny”

Materials needed: One small and one large ball.

How to play ‘Catch the Bunny’:

  • Have students stand or sit in a circle.
  • Explain that the small ball is the “bunny” and the large ball the “farmer”.
  • The point of the activity is for the big ball to meet with the small ball (as seen in the video below).
  • The farmer has caught the ‘bunny’ once this happens, and the two students next to each other should say something in English.
  • Do this as long as time allows.

Video music source: bensound

Recommendation: Make sure to start the balls at different points around the circle each time, or they may end up back with the same two students over and over again.

Note: This game can be played with students of all ages; however, older or adult students may not care for the balls being referred to as a ‘bunny’ and a ‘farmer’.


“Pass the Ball”

Materials needed: You will need at least one ball and music.

How to play ‘Pass the Ball’:

  • Once the music starts, hand the ball to one student at random.
  • Students pass the ball around the classroom – either standing in a circle or sitting at their desks.
  • Students should keep passing the ball until the music stops.
  • The student holding the ball when the music stops needs to say something in English.
  • Start the music again and repeat this activity as many times as possible.


  • Use more than one ball at a time to get more students involved in a conversation.
  • Younger students really seem to enjoy passing objects like stuffed animals, soft toys, or balls with smiley faces (as pictured above).
  • If you don’t have a way to start and stop music in the classroom, try having students sing or say a short chant.


  • Make sure students pass quickly and quietly, or this could get very out of control.
  • Ensure students don’t throw the ball during this activity unless you want a mess.
  • ‘Pass the Ball’ has been particularly popular to use for teaching in South Korea!

If you’re having some difficulty getting students to speak up, we’re convinced these activities will make your learning environment come alive with the sound of more students practicing English! These five creative ways to get students speaking English in the classroom work especially well at the beginning and/or ending of a lesson. Do you need other lesson plan ideas and teaching inspiration? Check out our various teaching tips posts!

What other ways have you been able to get students up and talking in the English classroom? Share by commenting below!

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