I would like to share an activity that I have used in my classes the last couple of years, an activity which usually makes all of the students say at least a few words during the first English class of upper secondary school. It is called (I think...) the "extended name tag" and is something I learned at a course in cooperative learning in Canada three years ago. It goes like this:
- Give all the students a sheet of paper and tell them to write their names.
- Give them instructions about what to draw in the four corners, like "your favorite city", "a place you would like to go if you could choose anywhere in the world", "your number one hobby", "a place you visited this summer", etc.
- When I have done this activity in class before, I have usually put the students pairs of two and asked them to present their name tags to their partner. The partner then has to remember what he/she is told, so that he/she can retell it either to a small group of students or to the rest of the class.
My experience is that most students like this activity. They can talk about things that are familiar to them, and, abracadabra, they have spoken English and learned something about at least one of their classmates at the same time.