Spontaneous speaking has always been a skill that I struggle to facilitate in the languages classroom, especially with lively French and German GCSE students who often need a lot of structure to flourish with speaking activities. It’s a shame, seeing as it’s a necessary skill to have in order to communicate in a foreign language!
However, with the new GCSE specifications, spontaneous speaking is the skill that I am really trying to develop in my classroom to help prepare my students for the general conversation section of the AQA GCSE French and German speaking examinations, as well as, simply, to feel more confident speaking in the foreign language that they are learning.
Today, I came across this speaking activity online (credit to lieblingsstunde), which I have entitled: ‘Speaking Cups’. I believe this is quite a low prep, yet effective speaking activity for language teachers to try out in the classroom. Please find the resources required, instructions for the speaking task, as well as options for bonus points below and ways to keep all members of the activity on task throughout. I hope the instuctions are useful to you!
Speaking Cups Activity
- A set of 3 cups with ‘adjectives’, ‘verbs’ and ‘nouns’ on each per speaking group
- Cut up strips of (laminated) card with a number of infinitive verbs, adjectives and nouns in your Target Language written on them
- Mini whiteboard, whiteboard pen and rubber per speaking group
- OPTIONAL: Speaking Cups Activity Scoreboard (259 downloads) attached
- Put students into small groups (I find 3-4 students per group works well)
- Give each group a set of the three cups with the cards inside, as well as the mini whiteboard, pen and rubber
- Student 1 picks an adjective, student 2 picks a verb and student 3 picks a noun, all of which are put down face up on a table.
- One student must form a sentence with all three words. As they are speaking, another member jots the vocab used, as they hear it, on the mini whiteboard.
- If the speaker manages to form speech with all three words on the cards (and the others in the team agree), a point is awarded. Members of the team should also award points for pronunciation (3/2/1)
- Another team member must add these points to the scoreboard and then swap roles but repeat 3-6 until the students have had enough
- Bonus points can be added for the sentence creator if they can also use any of the following:
a) connective – 1 point
b) opinion phrase – 2 points
c) sentence formed in 3rd person singular (he/she) or 1st person plural (we) – 2 points
d) sentence formed in past tense / future / conditional – 3 points
e) sentences containing ‘sparkly’ phrases – 3 points
- Other members of the team can also score bonus points by giving an antonym or synonym of any of the vocab on the cards in that person’s round, as another way to keep all members of the team involved in every single game.
It would be useful for the teacher to go around making notes of common errors, as well as re-focusing groups where necessary and share this feedback with the whole class just before moving on to something else.
Initially, there is a little prep involved in preparing the cards but once you have a template, you can easily edit the verbs, adjectives and nouns per topic. You could get a student in detention to chop and laminate for you?! Also, you might have a little trouble storing them, but I find putting them neatly in a labelled plastic wallet inside a storage box does the job well!
Obviously, there are plenty of other variations for this ‘Speaking Cups’ activity – feel free to add them in the comments below so we can all benefit from your additions.
Try this low-prep ‘speaking cups’ activity and let me know how it goes!
For another activity to practise speaking for AQA French speaking, German or Spanish too, check out another post here about > spontaneous speaking
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