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“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Setting the tone for a second language classroom can be quite challenging, especially when you have learners who may not be very motivated to participate in the class or may be too timid to express themselves. This is why ensuring that factors such as anxiety, distrust, consequences, rewards, relations among students and teacher are taken into consideration when establishing a classroom environment that is conducive to encourage maximum output from all students. Of all the skills in second language acquisition, communication may be the most daunting as it requires students to interact with each other in a foreign language. How can we encourage communication with  second language learners? The best and most important way is to ensure that the environment is welcoming to students and that learners understand that making mistakes is a part of the learning process.


Gail Godwin stated that, “Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths pure theatre.” This is also true of learning; learning also requires some level of theatre or acting. Creative theatrical components are an easy way to encourage students to speak in class. A great way to incorporate theatre in a second language classroom to encourage speaking is a skit; skits can be applied to any content, lesson or topic discussed. Skits ensure that students are communicating the necessary ideas, are interactive and allow students to show some creativity and personality. Educators can use a skit for any lesson from vocabulary to grammar to even more complex topics such as reading comprehension. By engaging learners in skits, each student can be given a role in the skit, regardless of how big or small.


All learners tend to love games, and games are a great way to not only engage students in active and educational play but also they are also an indirect way to get learners to communicate. Games such as bingo, jeopardy, charades, taboo just to name a few. For resources click–> Edtechnetwork.

Reward System

At times, an educator can try every “trick out of the hat” to get learners to communicate, but nothing seems to work. Well, one sure thing that will work is a reward system, whether they are earning points grade, ‘class bucks’ or tickets towards a bigger prize, learners enjoy receiving additional perks for class participation. knowing that their active participation can lead to extended rewards, encourages most learners to become active participants in the learning process.

Collaborative Tasks

Group work is one of the quickest ways to facilitate communication, when learners get together, the one thing they tend to do is talk. But how does one encourage speaking in the second language during group work? When teaching second language learners, especially if there is a common language spoken amongst the learners, one way to ensure that the target language is in use during group activities is by giving each member of the group a role, one of which is being a group leader or “on task manager” whose responsibility it is to ensure that all group members are speaking in the target language and are on task for the given assignment.

Got it? Report It

Got it? Report it! Can be used as an extension to group work activities; this often serves as a plenary to the day’s lesson, where learners share the major points of the day’s lesson. This strategy is an opportunity for learners to be the teachers. At the end of a group work assignment, learners select one member of their group it is good to change the student selected to do this task ofen. This activity gives learners an opportunity to speak and it also encourages active engagement as the learner now has the responsibility of ensuring others’ comprehension of the content. Learners are given 2-3 minutes to summarise the lesson and/or activity.


Learners are more open to communication if they are interested in the topics and feel that they have something to contribute to the discussion. knowing what your learners’ interests are, can assist in selecting interesting topics or scenarios related to the theme or lesson for learners to discuss in small groups.

Speaking in a second language environment, can be quite frightening for some students, but being creative and knowing your learners and what motivates them is the best solution in facilitating classroom conversations, and in turn increasing second language speaking skills.

By Melissa Monney

Melissa is a passionate educator from the United States of America. She currently works with the Abu Dhabi Education Council. Melissa is highly qualified and experienced. She is fluent in both French and Spanish, and has a basic level of Arabic.

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