Time Periods for Speaking English

silver stopwatch

With pre-beginning and beginning level English classes, it can be an ongoing struggle to get everyone speaking English at the same time. Rather than trying to firmly restrict the use of the first language throughout the entire class period (which can be exhausting and counterproductive), set “English Only” periods where you ask the students to speak only English for a set amount of time while they complete a communication activity, such as a mingle, a walking dictation, a dialogue, or a gap fill.

Before starting the "English Only" period, make sure that you teach the language that the students will need in order to successfully complete the activity, including phrases for negotiating meaning, such as “Please say that again” “How do I spell that?” and “Please speak louder”.

In the beginning, ask students to try for 3-5 minutes. Keep it short so that it is manageable and doesn’t feel unattainable. During the time period, circulate among the students, gently reminding them to speak English. When the time is up, celebrate the students’ success at speaking English, and encourage them to keep going.

As the students become more comfortable with speaking English and pushing themselves to figure out how to express themselves in the new language, you can gradually increase the length of the “English Only” periods.

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