Category Archives: Speaking

David Suzuki’s “Connecting With Nature”


David Suzuki’s website offers a free .pdf download (176 pages) for educators.  You do have to hand over an email address, but the booklet is useful enough that it’s worth it.  You can get the booklet here.

Teachers with higher-level classes can use many of the pages as is for vocabulary, reading, discussion and writing.  Teachers with lower-level classes may have to adapt the activities and reading.  As well, some of the activities just won’t work for online schools.

The students are being taught a lot of this information in school; they will probably be the generation to make the most environmental changes in China.  A few of the older students are becoming quite passionate about the environment and enjoy heated discussions about one’s personal responsibility to the environment.

P.S.  Occasionally, there is an issue with Mr. Suzuki’s heritage.  I try to breeze over the matter by mentioning the multiculturalism of Canada.  If that doesn’t work, I point out that his family has been here for many generations (Wikipedia complies by providing such information).  This matter has only come up once or twice with older students, though.


More Speech Topics


Seeing as our goal is to have the students talking non-stop, here’s another website for speech topics:

Good Speech Topics

This website is good for Levels 4 and 5, and adults.  Even the “easy” speech topics are still a little difficult for our lower-level students; although, you could simplify any of the topics.

Do check the lists before you show them to the students, though: some of the topics are culturally inappropriate for minors in China.  It would be best if you selected a few topics from the list and then gave them the options.

My English Class also has a good post on speech topics.


Bucket List for Kids


Here’s the link to a Globe and Mail article that Christine sent me.  It’s a pre-adolescent bucket list.  Good for conversation.  This will probably blow the city kids’ minds.

The list:
1. Climb a tree
2. Roll down a really big hill
3. Camp out in the wild
4. Build a den
5. Skip a stone
6. Run around in the rain
7. Fly a kite
8. Catch a fish with a net
9. Eat an apple straight from a tree
10. Play conkers
11. Throw some snow
12. Hunt for treasure on the beach
13. Make a mud pie
14. Dam a stream
15. Go sledding
16. Bury someone in the sand
17. Set up a snail race
18. Balance on a fallen tree
19. Swing on a rope swing
20. Make a mud slide
21. Eat blueberries or raspberries growing in the wild
22. Take a look inside a tree
23. Visit an island
24. Feel like you’re flying in the wind
25. Make a grass trumpet
26. Hunt for fossils and bones
27. Watch the sun wake up
28. Climb a huge hill
29. Get behind a waterfall
30. Feed a bird from your hand
31. Hunt for bugs
32. Find some frogspawn
33. Catch a butterfly in a net
34. Track wild animals
35. Discover what’s in a pond
36. Call an owl
37. Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
38. Bring up a butterfly
39. Catch a crab
40. Go on a nature walk at night
41. Plant it, grow it, eat it
42. Go wild swimming
43. Go rafting
44. Light a fire without matches
45. Find your way with a map and a compass
46. Try bouldering
47. Cook on a campfire
48. Try abseiling
49. Find a geocache
50. Canoe down a river

Penguin Soccer


Penguins Play Soccer with Chinese Antarctic Explorers


A great little snippet in the newspaper about some penguins that played soccer with Chinese explorers in Antarctica.  There are 6 photos.  This would make for an interesting discussion for younger kids, or for older kids who have studied penguins, Antarctica, etc.  Most of the students have seen Happy Feet, so they should be able to make some good connections.



I love having lunch with you guys…

Here are some of the websites that were mentioned yesterday:

Spelling City

British Council

North Pole (a Christmas site)


We were also talking about the music the kids like.  If you can get videos to work, you can play these things on YouTube; if not, you can just help them understand the lyrics.  If they know the song, even just reading the lyrics will help them with syntax, etc.

Michael Jackson – Kids of all ages listen to him: he’s a musical deity in China.  Try the popular ones like Thriller, Beat It, Man In The Mirror.

Avril Lavigne – Teenagers like her (but be careful with some of her lyrics).  Alice is a safe bet.

Justin Bieber – if you have a girl in your class, she’s probably a Belieber.  The boys like him, too.  Try Baby, Eenie Meenie and Never Let You Go.

Thousand Foot Krutch – they’re not overly popular in China, but one of my students got into them, and now the whole class likes them.  They’re a Christian group, so a couple of the songs might have one-too-many references to God but there’s nothing otherwise offensive.  Try Art of Breaking.

Speech Topics


I have my students do a speech every week.  The topics are optional – they’re free to talk about anything they like – but this gives them an idea.  Doing these speeches will prepare them for BETS, GESE, TOEFL, etc.

Level 1 students are expected to talk for one minute; Level 2s should talk for 2 minutes; Level 3s for three minutes, etc.  If they can’t think of what to say for the allotted time, I’ll ask questions to spur them on.  I don’t interrupt them to correct grammatical errors unless they’ve asked me to do so (usually at the higher levels).

Levels 1-3 are given 3 minutes to prepare: to look up words in the dictionary and organise their topics.  Levels 4 and 5 are given only one minute to prepare.


The Topics

1. Exercise
2. Sports
3. Computers
4. Animals
5. Homework
6. TV (is it good or bad, what do you like to watch, etc.)
7. Movies
8. Favourite song
9. School
10. Your favourite book
11. Your favourite toy when you were little
12. Chocolate
13. Cake
14. Babies
15. Family photographs
16. Eyes
17. Robots
18. A famous monument
19. Fire
20. Going to the doctor
21. Your neighbourhood
22. Taking photographs
23. Give a short biography of a famous person
24. Doing chores
25. Cell phones
26. Jokes
27. World peace
28. Brothers and Sisters
29. Poetry
30. Chinese food vs. American food
31. Describe something beautiful (use all 5 senses)
32. Fur coats: good or bad?
33. Your favourite teacher
34. Shopping
35. Tell a story (you can tell one you’ve read, but don’t actually read it)
36. Your favourite website
37. Fads
38. What’s bugging you? (Talk about insects.)
39. Superheroes
40. Your favourite character from a book, tv show or movie
41. Your favourite city
42. A current event
43. Your favourite historical figure
44. Your 3 favourite means of transportation
45. Three things you want to learn to do



  • Christmas
  • Spring Festival
  • Mid-Autumn Festival
  • New Year’s Day
  • Tomb Sweeping Day