Sure, it’s satisfying when your ESL student crafts a well-written essay in English.
And of course you’re proud when they understand your instructions without asking you to repeat them.
But is there anything more rewarding than hearing a student speak in English and truly sound like a native?
Speaking is arguably the most difficult part of mastering any language. You’ve likely spent an insane amount of class time correcting pronunciation, reviewing colloquialisms and generally trying to build the students’ confidence enough to speak English freely.
It can feel like the speaking instruction never ends.
Thankfully, ESL speaking websites can help your students achieve the progress you’ve been searching for.
The Benefits of Using ESL Speaking Websites in the Classroom
They do the work for you.
ESL speaking websites aren’t just valuable for students—they’re lifesavers for teachers, too!
These features can save you significant time creating lesson plans. You won’t have to write your own dialogues for students to act out or grade tests while you watch “The Bachelorette” after work. The less time you spend on menial tasks, the more effort you can give your students in the classroom.
Not to mention, you can actually mentally check out when you leave school, which will leave you refreshed and motivated when you waltz back into the building the next morning.
You have access to a wide range of speaking exercises.
It’s all too easy to run out of ideas for how to engage ESL learners. I know I’ve found myself repeating the same activities every five class periods or so. Students may eventually get bored of the same old, same old and stop paying close attention.
ESL speaking websites provide you with both new ideas and example content you can use in the classroom. Suddenly, you’ll have videos, audio clips, discussion prompts, dialogues, quizzes and tests to teach your students oral English.
Students can engage with the material.
Growing up, the class I dreaded most every week was Spanish. Most of the time, we went around the class and took turns reading scripted conversations from our textbook. It wasn’t exactly inspiring.
ESL speaking websites can make speaking practice more entertaining, though.
If you take students to a language lab, you can have them explore these websites at length. Even if you stay in a traditional classroom, you can display the site on a projector or use the provided examples in other ways.
There are much more engaging ways to get students speaking than asking them to read from a textbook.
6 ESL Speaking Websites for Learners of All Levels
As the website name suggests, ESL Conversation Questions is your one-stop shop for finding questions to spark discussion in your classroom.
The site is especially useful if you’re teaching question words: who, why, where, when, what and how. But you could theoretically use questions from ESL Conversation Questions in any lesson plan.
You can browse questions by topic, ranging from aliens (“Do you believe there is other life in the universe?”) to books (“Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction books?”) to travel (“Where are the best places for adventure vacations?”).
You may also choose to sort questions by grammar or vocabulary. For example, search for questions using adverbs of frequency, comparatives, phrasal verbs and more.
The most unique feature of this website is probably that you can search for questions to accompany the most popular ESL textbooks out there. Let’s say you teach using the “Touchstone” textbook series. Just go to the specific unit you’re teaching from the textbook and find corresponding conversation questions.
The site’s wide range of questions and options makes it a great resource for learners of any age or level.
The best way for students to become strong speakers is by immersing themselves in the language, and FluentU makes classroom immersion completely attainable. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers and news broadcasts—and turns them into English language lessons.
FluentU features videos that English speakers actually watch, so students can immerse themselves in the culture and pick up native accents. Some lessons provide transcripts of the videos, so you can print them or display them in front of the classroom and ask students to read the dialogues. At the end of each lesson, students can take a quiz to make sure they understand the video material.
You can easily work a fun, large-scale speaking activity into your classroom. FluentU videos take place in numerous settings, so you could place students in pairs or groups and have them reenact a video as a project. Ask them to memorize the dialogue, dress up in costumes and perform the scene in front of the class.
The program divides materials into six levels: beginner 1 and 2, intermediate 1 and 2 and advanced 1 and 2, so every level is represented.
My Speech Class is a completely different kind of ESL speaking website. It isn’t for conversations or acting out skits–it’s for public speaking. Use this site to find topics for your students’ English speeches.
You may choose to select speech topics before class to assign to students, or you can have students browse the site themselves and pick subjects. Each section includes helpful information, such as how to choose a topic and how to deliver a specific type of speech, making the site an excellent resource for students.
You can filter by speech type, such as persuasive, informative or humorous. My Speech Class even offers more specific topics, like speeches for kids, two-minute talks and five-minute talks. There are thousands of ideas to choose from, so you should have no trouble finding subjects that fit your students’ abilities and the lesson you’re teaching.
Here are a few examples of topics you can find:
- Persuasive: Should we donate unused food from supermarkets?
- For kids: My favorite season of the year is…
- Argumentative: The negative effects of Ronald Reagan’s “War on Drugs”
- Entertaining: My worst date
- Policy: Why cities should insist on having their own local economic development policy
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
Public speaking is a pretty advanced skill for ESL students, so My Speech Class is probably best suited for near-fluent speakers. However, if you teach upper-intermediate students, you may be able to find some good topics on this site for them.
ESL Fast is a great resource for helping students practice dialogue. Browse conversations by topics, starting with “It’s Time to Get up,” all the way to “Comments on the New President.”
Each topic comes with a printed dialogue and an audio recording of native speakers reciting the conversation.
There are multiple ways to use these dialogues in a lesson plan. You may have students pair up and take turns speaking as Person A and Person B, or they can act out the conversations in front of the class. You may choose for them to listen to the audio before reciting or have them practice on their own, then listen to the audio to compare what they sound like to the native speakers.
Each topic has only a few short example dialogues (and sometimes only one), so a fun, interactive activity could be to have students recite the conversation, then write their own dialogues about the topic.
ESL Fast splits subjects into beginner and intermediate dialogues and the audio recordings are spoken slowly, so lower-level learners can easily follow along.
The website also provides short essays and stories you could have students read aloud or memorize to recite in front of the class. They can read about topics like “Bill Gates: The Man Behind Microsoft,” “The U.S. Federal Government” and “Julie Joins Facebook,” among many others.
English Media Lab is a great resource for learning a variety of English skills, such as grammar and vocabulary. To focus specifically on speaking, click on the “pronunciation” tab in the menu.
The website provides videos, but these videos are a little different than the ones on other sites on this list. The videos are instructional and focus on specific English speaking concepts. For example, you’ll find videos on topics like diphthongs, short vs. long vowel sounds and voiced vs. voiceless consonants. After your students watch a video, they’ll engage in interactive exercises and quizzes to test their knowledge of the pronunciation concept.
The volume and variety of English Media Lab’s pronunciation resources are pretty impressive. You’ll find printable worksheets, charts, flashcards, ebooks, audiobooks, games and more.
English Media Lab’s activities are geared toward kids and novice students.
Similar to English Media Lab, ESL Gold helps students build on several skills, so it’s a convenient resource to use if you want to focus on reading or listening along with speaking.
ESL Gold actually offers complete ESL lessons for free! These lessons are speaking intensive and help students talk about a topic in a variety of ways.
For instance, you could teach the lesson on family and relationships. As a warm-up activity, your students will look at the provided picture of a family and answer questions about both the photo and their own families. Then they’ll listen to the related vocabulary. They’ll pair up with a partner to tell them about their family, using ESL Gold example sentences to guide them along. Finally, the website suggests ways students can practice talking about family outside of class.
Maybe you’re just looking for individual activities for your lesson rather than a full lesson plan. ESL Gold offers articles your students can read aloud and discuss together, videos and example dialogues to introduce phrases for conversation and more.
ESL Gold’s materials are split into beginner, intermediate and advanced levels, so the site is useful for students of all levels.
Imagine watching your students reenact an interview with President Obama, listening to them read an article about America’s fastest growing cities aloud or hearing them recite a dialogue they wrote themselves.
Teaching pronunciation isn’t exactly a piece of cake. When a student masters a difficult pronunciation concept, it can feel like you’re both winners. These six ESL speaking websites can set you both up for success.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to teach English with real-world videos.