The practice of ‘thinking out loud’, unscripted speaking, turning thoughts into words in the here and now can be very valuable and is a skill which can feature as a matter of routine in many classroom activities.
In any speaking activity in the classroom, it is important to think about the audience. Not just the audience present in the room but a wider, unseen audience who communication is being prepared for and presented to.
What is the purpose of the language used? Is it to persuade? To entertain? To inform? To describe? Who might be the audience we are preparing to speak to? It can often be helpful for teachers and pupils to model and rehearse a spoken presentation based on any theme, purpose or genre. Using a microphone as a classroom prop can be a valuable, flexible and at times playful asset.
Here are some ideas to try, just suggestions which can be adapted. Don’t use a script! Treat these speaking activities as live opportunities to construct, compose and present spoken language with purpose. The activities can be whole class where the speaker presents to the group, or partner work where the listener plays the role of the questioning audience. Questions should be encouraged.
A microphone is not necessary, but it often helps. An invisible imaginary one is fine. It is kept on a shelf in your classroom if you ever need it!
1: Non-Chronological Report: Wildlife And Nature
Imagine you are the expert presenter of a popular natural history TV show.
2: Explain a mathematical calculation.
Imagine you are at a university explaining your ground-breaking understanding to illustrious professors.
3: Geographical Description of places and features
Take the microphone as the knowledgeable announcer on an open-topped tourist bus.
4: Historical Recount
Speak as if presenting a weekly radio 4 history programme.
5: Telling A Story
Imagine being the host of an event at a storytelling festival.
Speak loudly and proudly from the benches in a parliamentary debate.
Imagine you are on a call with the management team of a particularly disappointing hotel airing your grievances.
Pretend to be a TV talk show host introducing the next guest.
Become the presenter of a TV gadget shown to explain how something works.
Be the chef on a TV cooking channel, explaining to the audience how to follow a delicious recipe.