Getting students to talk (in the target language) is a challenge in all Foreign Language classes. There are many different tricks to get them speaking, and I love hearing about them from other teachers. My favorite go-to trick is "Citas rapidas" which is basically speed dating.
This is an easy activity with very little prep and a huge payoff of speaking time. Before we start, I often give the students an "entrevista" (interview) worksheet to fill out. While they are speaking, they will be responsible for finding out certain information about the people they are talking to. Some times I use a worksheet that lists what they need to find out and other times I use a worksheet that has them write down information about themselves. This works really well with mock facebook profile pages as well! (This is another activity I do that I'll blog about soon).
I divide the class in half and rearrange the desks so that they are in two lines facing each other. Then one line of students are assigned to stay in their spots and the other is assigned to move every time they hear the buzzer (or squeak or any other noise that I might have ready to get their attention). Sometimes I even set an online timer projected on the board so that students know how much time they have (Here is one I like to use.) Other times I randomly decide when time is up so that they are encouraged to keep talking without knowing when the end will be. Students speak with the student across from them, asking and answering questions to find out the information they need and then when the buzzer chimes, they rotating group move over one seat and the conversation starts again with a new partner.
The trick to this is to constantly be listening and moving from pair to pair to make sure that the students are having an actual conversation of back and forth questions and answers and not just listing off a check list of facts for the other person to copy down on their worksheet. The point is NOT to micro-manage the conversations. I don't correct grammar or other aspects of language use. The key is communication, and if both students understand what is going on and are sharing the facts they need to, then the task is a success.
My favorite part about this method is that they repeat the same information over and over again with each new partner. By the end, they have re-used the same conversation methods and the same vocabulary multiple times and it more likely that they will remember it and feel comfortable in a similar conversation in the future.
How do you get kids talking in your classes?