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These are a Few of My Favorite Things

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by Susan Kelly | 18 Oct 2013
Resource Description: Students get practice in public speaking, using simple – complex grammar.
Audience: Adult, Secondary, University
Audience Language Proficiency: Advanced, Beginner, Intermediate
Duration: 5 minutes per student
Materials and Technology:
Presentation software such as PowerPoint or Keynote, a computer with projector
Objective(s):
  • Students plan and organize a short speech
  • Students practice pronunciation
  • Students learn to design uncluttered, effective PowerPoint slides
  • In the beginning of the semester or year this helps students get acquainted and helps the class develop a sense of community
Activity Description:
  • Individual work
  • One student faces the class to give a speech. The other students may be in a circle or in rows

To provide an example, the teacher gives a brief introduction of his or her favorite things, such as favorite films, authors, books, places, foods, activities or favorite people. This speech should include slides with pertinent images that enhance the speech.

If the students are beginners the teacher may need to teach the grammar needed for preferences, e.g. “I like chocolate,” “I love sports,” or “My favorite book is "Cinderella."

The teacher then explains that each student will give a similar speech lasting approximately 5 minutes. The teacher then schedules the speeches and explains the criteria for assessment. The teacher teaches idioms to express favorite and liking. For example:

  • I love . . .
  • I am crazy about . . .
  • I‟m a (big, huge) fan of . . .
  • I admire . . .
  • One of my most favorite __________s is . . .

Because listening to several speeches in one sitting, can become monotonous, I have found it‟s best to schedule 2 or 3 speeches per class.

Many of my students are comfortable using PowerPoint, but they tend to created cluttered slides with clashing designs. Thus I provide them with guidelines for creating slides that share a common background, use the recommended colors for text and don‟t have too many images on each slide.

I would assess this activity based on the student‟s level and age. For university students, I use a rubric such as this one:

  • Organization of Information: Based on how well organized a speech is. Is there a short introduction? A conclusion? Does the body of the speech flow?
  • Eye contact and body language: Consider whether the speaker fidgets or rarely looks at the audience
  • Volume: Is it easy to hear the speaker?
  • English grammar: This area depends on the course level and the students‟ previous English education. I don‟t just count errors, but rather assess whether there‟s a variety of sentence structures. I gauge the scores based on ACTFL guidelines for the course level. I let students know that I do not expect them to speak like native speakers and that all assessment for grammar is based on what is appropriate given the setting. I will emphasize the grammar they have recently learned. When I explain this activity, I will review the grammar that they are likely to need. I feel each teacher needs to consider their students‟ age and level and develop appropriate grammar criteria when assessing.
  • Word choice: Encourages students to try to use a variety of vocabulary including the idioms and vocabulary taught to discuss preferences.
  • Visuals: Depends on the presentations slides. Are the colors pleasant or clashing? Are the images formatted well so that each slide isn't cluttered? Are any titles spelled correctly?
  • Comments: Any additional comments

I use a 5 point scale for assessing each criterion with 5 as high and 1 as low. Yet each teacher should tailor their scale and criteria to the course objectives and students‟ levels.

I find that students enjoy learning about each other‟s likes. They share common interests and sometimes learn of new musicians, places, films and authors. Because they‟re talking about things they truly love, students experience less stage fright.

With young or adult learners, I would not formally assess this activity unless my program required such assessment.

Follow up: If you teach in a setting where social networks or blogs are easy to access, you may want students to open accounts and use the information in these speeches to develop profiles.