On speaking: How much time should we give to speaking practice?

Philip Kerr

Many students measure their progress in English through their confidence and ability to speak in English in ‘real-world’ situations. On top of this, 70% of teachers from our Global Teaching Speaking Survey stated that speaking was the most important skill. However, oral fluency practice is not always given the classroom time it needs. Following on from his recent webinar exploring how much time should be given to speaking practice, Philip Kerr returns with these tips for speaking preparation.

Give students time to prepare for pair and group work

To maximize opportunities for learning, and help students speak more confidently, give them time to prepare what they are going to say using the following steps:

  • Tell students first to think about what they want to say. They will focus on how to say it later.
  • Students write ideas on a piece of paper. Remind them to write words or short phrases, not full sentences. If they don’t know a word in English, they can write it in L1 at this stage.
  • If it’s possible, students can look for more ideas online.
  • Tell students to think about the language that they will need. They can do this by sharing ideas with a partner, looking at vocabulary and grammatical structures they have learned, or checking a dictionary. Be available to answer any questions.
  • Encourage students to say some of the things they want to say in their heads, or very quietly. Give them as much time as they need for this stage.
  • When giving feedback after the task, focus on how well students communicated their ideas.


If you’re feeling inspired by these tips, make sure to revisit Philip’s webinar, or for further reading, download Philip’s Time for Speaking whitepaper.

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