Speaking activities for intermediate students

students making up a rhyme

Here is a free sample game from my book, with fun speaking activities for intermediate students. Mark McEnvoy gave me this idea in the spirit of sharing, and I am delighted to share it with you; thanks to Mark for the game idea.

The book itself, a goldmine of ideas, contains two broad types of games: drills and fluency activities.

Drill-type activities

The drills are for practising new grammar and vocabulary and for ironing out persistent errors. There are many speaking drills for beginners to lower intermediates. There are also writing activities that are fantastic for drilling new grammar in fun ways.

Fluency activities

These books, ESL online games, and ESL classroom activities contain varied speaking activities for intermediate students, and material for beginner and advanced levels.

Rhyming Challenge

Rhyming challenge is a great speaking activity for intermediate to advanced students. Conveniently, it requires no prep and no materials.


Divide the class into small groups of three to six students each. Write up six words per team on the board. Alternatively, have all teams work with the same vocabulary.


First, have students huddle together in groups and think of words that rhyme with those on the board. Allow three minutes for this task, and let students know when one minute has passed and when thirty seconds are left.

Next, have students make up a rhyme using their rhyming words and incorporate sentences with specific grammar. Again, set a time limit for this task. Using a time limit puts a little pressure on students, adds an element of fun and excitement, and can increase focus.

Cunning tip to encourage learning grammar

While students are allowed to write down their rhyming words, they cannot note down any sentences. Instead, they must memorize them. Asking students to repeat their rhyme by heart will force them to repeat it often and, hence, learn the grammatical structure therein.

When the time is up, each group say their rhyme to the class. Each team member could read one sentence each. However, move swiftly, so the activity does not drag. Award a point for a rhyming word and three points for a correct sentence. It should only take a few minutes to hear all the rhymes and award the points. Do not stop to correct grammar mid-game. Instead, make a note and have students correct any mistakes at the end as a collaborative exercise.

Writing variation

As a variation, allow students to write up their sentences when working in groups during the limited time. 

An example for lower-intermediate students

Target structure: simple past.

Words: bought, ran, ate, pen, smiled, walked.

Example sentences:

Bought: He taught English.

Ran: She made a flan.

Ate: She was called Kate.

Pen: He was called Ken. Car: They walked far.

Walked: They talked and talked.

Challenging example for the present perfect

First, write up six words: pen, chair, dog, dictionary, travel agent, and bus. Then, students make up sentences using the present perfect tense that contains a rhyming word.

Hat: She has become fat.

Chair: I’ve been to the fair.

Dog: He has burnt a log.

Dictionary: I’ve played Pictionary. Or, how about: I’ve read fiction rarely.

This exercise isn’t easy because of the present perfect requirement combined with the rhyme.

A tip for students

First, brainstorm rhyming words together.  Then, see which ones fit well into sentences using the target structure.

I hope you find this game interesting and that it enriches your students’ vocabulary.

Success with speaking activities for intermediate students

See what some teachers have said about Rhymig Challenge:

“My students really enjoyed “Rhyming challenge”. It was so fun for them because they tried to find as many funny words as they could. “

Nora Rodriguez from Instituto Londres, Mexico City

“‘Thank you very much for Rhyming Challenge”. It was very effective and enthusiastic, the classroom was very alive, and they learned much from it.'”    

Percisa Quinn Pression Madrazo

P.S. Check out the complete resources with full support from Shelley included – every email is answered! Get your students motivated!

ESL Classroom Activities

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2 thoughts on “Speaking activities for intermediate students”

  1. Amy Kutschbach

    Thank you! I am the brand new ESOL volunteer teacher at Beacon of HOPE on a small island in Florida. I have never taught ESL/ESOL. The previous teacher died. I was given ESL Classroom Activities for Teens and Adults. But the agency no longer has the Appendix. Is it possible that I might obtain that?

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