The 5 out of 10 speaking activity

Here’s a quick post in which I’d like to share a simple speaking/vocabulary practice activity. No preparation is needed.

Get each student to write down 10 words on a separate piece of paper. These can either be from a specific section of the unit you need to revise, or they can create their own sets based on their hobbies and interests. So, if a student is interested in music, he or she writes down words such as conductor, orchestra, stage, etc. While the first option is probably more practical syllabus-wise, the second alternative is far more personalized and student-focused, and your students will probably like it more because they are in the role of experts and can showcase what they like and/or are good at. Tell our students you will collect their lists.

Before you collect them, though, make sure they sign them. Shuffle the lists and draw one randomly. Call out the author of the list and ask them to come to the front of the class (I asked them to sit on my chair while I sat at the back of the classroom). The rest of the class should grab a blank piece of paper. The student in the front chooses 5 of the 10 words from their list and defines them one by one. His classmates try to guess and write down the words, but they must not say them out loud. After the student describes all five words, they reveal the answers. For each correct word, each student gets a point. The speaker then draws another list from the pile. This goes on until everybody has spoken.

I was surprised by how enjoyable the activity was. Also, it was simple yet very effective. Apparently, my students liked both describing as well as guessing the words.


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Hana Tichá

I'm an EFL teacher based in the Czech Republic. I've been teaching English to learners of all ages and levels for almost 30 years. You can find out more about me and my passion for teaching here on my blog.

2 thoughts on “The 5 out of 10 speaking activity”

  1. I like this one! Really low-prep (possibly no-prep as you say). I’m just curious, when you did it with your class, did they choose their own vocab sets or did you use it to revise a part of the syllabus? Because it seems to me that there might turn out to be (quite) a bit of overlap if students needed to choose from something they’re meant to be revising. But I guess that might not even matter because they’ll be choosing 5 words out of the 10 they put down, so you could instruct them to try and avoid words that have already been defined?

    Anyway, this could be good for ChatGPT! Students could ask AI to generate part of their list and complete it on their own. Or they could ask AI to give them the definition for 1-2 of the words (like a wild card) if they are struggling to come up with a definition on their own. Or they could feed the definitions the student in the chair is saying to ChatGPT and see if it can guess what the word is.

    The only thing is, you then need the students to be logged in and it’s no longer no tech.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, Vedrana!

    Thanks again for stopping by. Regarding your first question (Did they choose their own vocab sets or did you use it to revise a part of the syllabus?), we actually did both and yes, you are right; there probably would have been an overlap if I hadn’t assigned specific sections to specific students. But as you point out, they only choose five out of ten words, which may solve the problem anyway.

    Your idea of using ChatGPT to generate a part of their list sounds great. I suppose it may be quite feasible plus it would be fun. I will definitely explore this possibility, so thanks for the tip! By the way, I’m not entirely against a no-prep-but-some-tech type of activity. 😉

    Take care!

    Liked by 1 person

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