One of a native speaker teacher’s primary goals is, almost without fail, to get students to speak. Two of my favorite speaking activities, which generally work at the lower intermediate level and higher but are potentially adaptable, are these:
Before class, brainstorm and compose a list of questions on a theme, which could be as specific as “friend and family” or as wide as “controversial topics.” They don’t have to be particularly insightful or probing, especially if you have a large group. Print the list and cut the paper so you have one question per slip of paper. Give each student a question and then ask students to find a partner and ask their question. The partner answers, asks his own question, and when the pair is done, they switch papers, find new partners, and repeat. This doesn’t take a whole lot of creativity or innovation on the students’ part (though it can if they want it to), and so is usable even with quieter or more reserved groups. With a group of fourteen, this activity can go on for twenty minutes or so.
Create your own roleplays, giving each role a character, some background information, a goal to reach with the conversation, and also some questions so the student can incorporate some of his own ideas.
Let students read their role cards and think for a bit, and then have them act them out with partners without showing their partner their role card. If you make up a few different sets of roleplays, students can act them out at the same time with partners first, and then choose one to do in front of the class. Do give some thought to your students’ personalities when creating roles – two middle-aged businessmen may not want to act out a conversation between two love-struck teenagers – but keep in mind that acting as someone else very often makes people feel freer to speak. They aren’t speaking as themselves or about their own problems or opinions, they are someone else.