Visual prompt for speaking

One of our greatest challenges as langauge teachers is getting the students to speak, especially in front of their peers.  I am looking at many of the ways I have encouraged speaking in class and trying to find others – please share!!!!!!

Here is one technique for use with a visual prompt:

  1. With a large scene for all to view (I use a powerpoint file on a projector screen), ask students to just name words they can identify. This warms them up and sets the mood for conversation. 
  2. After adequate time on step 1, ask them for sentences and phrases.  If they have trouble getting started, ask some T2S questions (teacher to student).  use some of the vocab they had already mentioned in step 1. If they had said, “Boy”, ask what the boy is doing or relate it to current units by asking what he is wearing or if he is short. Encourage elaboration.  (remind them of the speaking rubric)
  3. Ask for negative statements.  I teach Spanish and am not sure about other langauges, but my students usually need more practice with negative statements.  T2S questions: Ask about things that are not there or thigns that they are not doing.
  4. Ask if students can think of questions from the scene.  I usually have a poster of question words in my room for them to refer to.  They can ask about what the people are doing, going to do, or did, depending on the level of class.
  5. We need to move them to S2S conversation.  After a few questions, start having them ask classmates and respond to one another. Here, try to get them to start elaborating on their responses.  Encourage them to relate their responses to themselves.  If it is a beach scene and they say that the boy is swimming, they can talk about whether or not they swim or relate a particular incident that happened while they were at the beach. 

I follow up with having them write a number of statements or questions.


There are many ways to record the students’ performance levels during the exercise.  I use a seating chart fot these activities.  I write the numbers for each of the steps above as students attempt them.  When José says words, I put 1’s in his box.  When he answers someone’s questions, I put 5’s in his box. I add plus signs to the numbers if what they are saying is extended or demonstrates advanced skills.  If they have several errors, I use minus signs, but I also try to give them a general idea of what they are having trouble with – I abbreviate for subject-verb agreeement, errors in tense, etc.. I use my rubric mentioned in my Oral Rubric post. 

What do you think it would be like to start class in this way every day? 


2 thoughts on “Visual prompt for speaking

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