Topics for ESL Speaking Class

Written by maggie mccormick
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Topics for ESL Speaking Class
Let ESL students practice speaking with interesting topics. (cd_escr3 image by Paco Ayala from

Speaking is often one of the most difficult aspects of learning English as a second language (ESL). For students of ESL, it is difficult to quickly explain thoughts and feelings in a new language. A class that focuses on speaking English will help students learn to speak up and improve their listening comprehension.

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Role-playing is a particularly effective way to practice speaking for beginning students. Try to think of situations that students are most likely to encounter. If the class is meant to prepare students for travelling in an English-speaking country, for example, you may want to focus your lesson on trying to buy an item in a store. For a business English class, you can practice interviewing or role-playing in an office setting. In this exercise, let students have the chance to play both the boss and the employee.


Descriptions enable students to practice telling stories and to talk about familiar objects and ideas. Ask students to describe a recent vacation or ask them to describe what they are wearing. Students can talk about their culture, their customs, their hometown or anything else that interests them.


One of the most challenging aspects of speaking a foreign language is responding to events that are unexpected. Ask a student to talk about what he would do if he lost his wallet, saw a person who was injured or was accused of a crime that he did not commit. You can role-play answers if it seems appropriate. Use this technique in more advanced classes, and do not let students prepare for the topic ahead of time.


At one point, students will have to explain how to do something in a foreign language. For example, how to get from one place to another, or how to make a traditional dish from their home country. Give students an assignment that requires them to show the class how to do something. Students should bring all necessary items into the classroom to demonstrate this task.


Allow students to express their opinions about certain topics. You can choose non-controversial topics, such as personal opinions about movies or a particular type of cuisine. You can also introduce political topics and ask for opinions on current events. Many cultures do not allow people to freely express their thoughts and opinions, but if your students want to live in an English-speaking country, they should learn how to do this.

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