One of the common complaints students have about exam speaking is that they never know what to say. In practice sessions, I’ve had students dry up completely and embarrassedly freeze half way through a sentence, I’ve had other students refuse to talk about the topic saying that they know nothing about it!
About a month ago, Richard Byrne shared a post about PechaFlickr that I think can help with this.
PechaFlickr is a web based app that displays 20 random images for 20 seconds each. As the name suggests, the images all come from Flickr and are selected based on how they’ve been tagged – this adds the element of randomness that makes it such a great tool as you can never be entirely sure what you’re going to get. I tried it with the topic “school” and got a a child crying in front of some ruins, a grinning child staring at the camera, what looked like a teachers meeting, a somewhat inappropriately dressed Japanese lady (but dressed enough for the sake of propriety), and some people holding a candlelit vigil. I gave up at that point…!
In the advanced settings you can change the number of slides shown and the length of time they are displayed for, so you could easily adapt it to practice Cambridge English: First & Advanced speaking tasks, though it doesn’t practice the exam tasks in the sense that the tasks require comparison and contrast of two photos.
What it does help practice is thinking about what pictures represent and what they could represent, finding connections between images and topics and perhaps more importantly . quick thinking.
I think this could be a great warmer for any class with an interactive whiteboard and it could also be a great tool for students to practice at home – especially if they record and review their own performance.
Another alternative is to play a “Just a Minute” type game, possibly setting timing on each photo to slightly longer and adding more pictures (depending on how long you want things to take), where as soon as the speaker falters or fails, they stop and another one has to take their place.
Any other suggestions?
Try it out here: