All I did in my Spanish class during high school was write! We practiced and praticed and praticed, but it was only ever read by 2 people: my teacher (who circled all my errors) and me. My classes were sometimes given the chance to practice with our friends in class but it was basically pointless because we were all rookies in Spanish and it was so much easier to share High School drama in English! I wanted to learn Spanish, but needed to actually SPEAK it in order to get improve.

Now I’m a Spanish teacher and I know how hard it can be to get students to speak in the language during class. (Day 1: no problem, but by Year 2, Day 35 it is much harder). Obviously some students are much more motivated to use it and much less embarrassed to make a mistake in front of their peers. However, if students actually have a REASON to communicate then they usually will.

I am teaching descriptions right now. Why would a kid need to describe what they look like he is standing in front of me? POINTLESS. He could describe his favorite actor… but again… POINTLESS if I know who it is already.

Here’s a fun way to get your students describing people!

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1.) Tape a name of a celebrity, teacher in the school, or tv character on each students back. Their job is to figure out who they are!

2.) Teach them how to ask… “What am I like?” and phrases like “I know that already”, “What else?” and, of course..”YOU ARE _______”

3.) If your students need extra motivation not to cheat (like mine) give each student a clothes pin and if anyone hears them speak English during the activity they get to take their clothes pin. (This way they are never really OUT of the activity. If they lose their pin they can try to get one back by “catching” someone else using English.)

** have extra names on hand just in case some students want to keep playing after they figure it out!

Warning: This activity might spark excitement in the class and you may hear laughter and/or students using the target language. Every single student may not speak Spanish the entire time, but isn’t 5 minutes better than 0 minutes?!?

Has this sort of activity worked for anyone else? Any other great ideas to get students SPEAKING the language in class? Share a fun idea below – I’d love to hear it!