- Keywords: Speaking, feedback
- Learner English level: Any
- Learner maturity: Any
- Preparation time: Initially 10-20 minutes
- Activity time: 5-10 minutes
- Materials: List of speech topics (Appendix 1), word-count sheet (Appendix 2), timer
Ta-talk is an activity for practicing speaking fluency. In this small-group activity, students choose a speech topic of their interest from a list, take a minute to prepare for their speech, and then talk about their topic in English for one minute. It focuses on speed and quantity over accuracy, and this is gauged by counting how many words are spoken in one minute.
This quick activity provides students fluency practice within their linguistic competence, while the group aspect also helps them learn to give feedback to and pick up useful expressions from each other.
Step 1: Make a list of as many topics as possible that are easy for your students to talk about (e.g., “My hometown,” “My research”) (see Appendix 1).
Step 2: Make a word-count sheet. This sheet will be used to count how many words are spoken in the activity (see Appendix 2).
Step 1: Explain the flow of this activity, in which students in a group will play three roles in turn (Speaker, Encourager, and Counter). The Speaker makes a one-minute speech with a quick preparation, the Encourager listens to the speech, giving feedback occasionally, and the Counter listens to the speech and counts every word spoken by the Speaker using a word-count sheet (e.g., placing a finger on the number “1” and moving the finger on the sheet as the speech goes).
Step 2: Give out the list of speech topics and the word-count sheet to the students.
Step 3: To facilitate the speaking practice, give some examples of verbal feedback that the listening students can encourage the speaker with (e.g., “Right,” “I see,” “Sounds great”).
Step 4: Make groups of three students.
Step 5: Get each student to choose one topic from the list that they would like to talk about. Encourage students to choose something that is manageable and not too challenging.
Step 6: Give each student one minute to prepare for their speech. Have them write down some keywords that might be useful.
Step 7: Get students to decide who will speak first by, for instance, rock-paper-scissors.
Step 8: Start the first round. The Speaker talks about his/her topic to the Encourager for one minute. Monitor and make notes for feedback.
Step 9: After one minute, give a signal and stop the speech. The Counter tells the number of words to the speaker.
Step 10: Ask students to change roles and start the second round.
Step 11: Repeat until all students have spoken. This is one set of Ta-talk and takes only about five minutes.
Step 12: When one set is finished, give feedback on useful expressions or strategies to make the speech smooth or free of common errors.
Step 13: If time permits, continue with a second set of Ta-talks. This time assign to different students, so they can enhance fluency by working with very familiar topics.
Ta-talk is a useful activity that works effectively as a regular practice for developing spoken English skills. The speech time can be extended to 2-3 minutes, depending on the students, and this activity can also be conducted online (e.g., using breakout rooms in Zoom), making it a versatile, materials-light activity for any classroom context.
These appendices are also below