ESL speaking activities for adults

group of ESL students debating

You find some ESL speaking activities for adults, pick some hot topics, and go to class excited. But, unfortunately, despite all your careful preparation, you find that students don’t have much to say, and any discussion soon fizzles out. How disappointing!

The problem is that the setting is artificial in many classroom discussions or debates. In addition,  students do not have a real reason to communicate. Therefore, if you give a compelling reason for students to listen and participate, you will find that conversation flows more readily.

ESL Classroom Activities and ESL Online Games are packed with fun ESL speaking activities for adults. Here is one of them for you to try in class. It’s a fantastic speaking fluency activity for intermediates to advanced students. In addition, this post also contains helpful tips about communication for all speaking activities.

Get your students talking with this ESL discussion game


Use this persuasion technique to generate a reason to communicate and stimulate students. You can discuss any topic with this activity. It is ideal for specific subjects, such as business English themes, but also general language fluency.

Persuasion is adaptable to any class size. But, first, although not obligatory, I suggest that students prepare for homework to help discussions be more fluid.


Here is a detailed example using the topic of your dream home. First, brainstorm with the class about ideal features for a dream home and as students call out their ideas, jot any helpful vocabulary on the board.

Specify information required

Specify the type of information needed, such as location, proximity to services, environment, size, grounds, extra features such as pool or gym, parking, architectural style, whether modern or character, and so on.

First, give out real estate information on several homes to the estate agents or let students prepare property descriptions for homework. Once you have your dream home specifications,  make half the students estate agents and half home buyers.

Give students a reason to communicate


House buyers have a few minutes to interview three or four estate agents and choose a property from those on offer. Estate agents only have one or two houses in their portfolio, which they are very keen to sell. House buyers may visit several estate agents with a time limit of a few minutes each before making their choice.

See which estate agents make the most sales.

Adapt this game to any topic!

As with all my ESL speaking activities for adults, Persuasion is adaptable to many topics. Here are a few examples:

– Favorite holiday destination: Travel agents and customers

– Best product: Salesmen and customers

– Favorite day out: Tour guides and customers

– Food for the school canteen: Nutritionists and parents

– Which school for your child? Headteachers and parents

– Which job? Employers and Employees

– Which bank? Bank managers and customers (ideal for business English) Give the bank managers the task of choosing a bank and reading up on the terms for homework.

– Which party? Hosts describe what their party will be like, and guests decide which party they want to go to

– Which political party? Party leaders list their policies, and voters decide who to vote for. Allow outrageous parties such as the Monster Raving Loony Party from the UK. Be sure students know they can take on a role rather than express personal views. Have students each prepare a party manifesto for homework to use in class.

– Which pet? A pet lover tries to sell his idea of the best pet to a potential pet buyer.

– Which country? Ambassadors try to attract immigrants to their country. If you have refugees or feel that this is too sensitive a topic for your class, play with imaginary countries that have fantasy ideas such as free food for children and so on.

ESL speaking activities for adults that actually work

Well done to Roya Brahimi in Iran for checking out this game in her classroom:

“I always use your games when the class is feeling a bit flat. It really works. Some of my colleagues have observed my classes keenly to see if the games work. They all like your games. I owe my success to you.”

Roya Brahimi, Iran

I hope you are successful with this discussion activity in your classes. Do give it a try.  Once you have used it, it’ll be another string to your bow and something you can use regularly to make your lessons more passionate and meaningful.

Remember, save time and have students prepare their scenarios for homework.

Kind regards

Shelley Ann Vernon

Teaching English Games

P.S. Check out the full resources:

ESL Classroom Activities for Teens and Adults Get your students motivated!

Also in paperback

And for online teachers: ESL Online Games.

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