Got a Minute?

a pile of pastel colored stopwatches

Purpose:  to help learners develop their speaking fluency on a variety of topics in a low pressure environment

Preparation Time:  none

Materials Needed:  index cards


  1. Have the group of learners brainstorm a list of topics that they are interested in talking about. As the learners say the topics, write them on the index cards. Alternatively, the tutor may provide topics that tie in with the current unit of study. Write only one topic per index card.
  2. Divide the group into partners or groups of three. Have the learners decide who will speak first, second, etc.
  3. Turn the cards face down and mix them up. Ask a learner to draw a card. The topic that is drawn is the first topic that will be talked about.
  4. Start the timer, and the learners in the partners or groups who are speaking first talk about the selected topic for one minute. The goal is for them to try and talk continuously with only minor pausing for the whole time.
  5. Set the first card aside, and have a second learner draw a card to select a new topic. The learners in the partners or the groups who are speaking second talk about the topic for one minute.
  6. Continue the process until everyone has had an opportunity to talk at least once. If you have a small group, learners may each speak several times.

Expansion: After the first learner speaks about the selected topic for one minute, their partner must speak about the same topic for two minutes. If the learners are in a group of three, the third learner speaks about the topic for three minutes. When the next topic is drawn, the learner who previously spoke the longest begins the next round.


Modification 1: For a single learner, the tutor and the learner take turns drawing a topic and speaking for a minute.


Modification 2: For lower level learners, select topics that the learners are very familiar with, and ask them to speak for 20-30 seconds at a time. You may also prompt them with questions if they struggle to generate enough speech to fill up the time.


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