This one’s just going to come with practice, practice, more practice, and ... wait a sec, having them rehearse into a fake microphone!
Use a pencil, roll up some paper, and grab whatever you can so they’ll know to speak close into the microphone and everyone can hear them.
Memorization & Pronunciation
To help with this, try recording your student’s story, speech, or poem using the Voice Memo feature on your phone (If you’re in China, using WeChat will do) and have a teaching assistant or staff forward the recording to their parents.
That way the students can practice at home and memorization and pronunciation won’t be an issue!
Expressions + Acting
But you know, have a lil’ fun with it. Have them act it out. Be over the top with it and let them go all out.
The bigger the expression, the better, and it’ll help get your students recognized by judges even if they’re not so good in other categories.
Actions & Hand Gestures
It’s called TPR, or total physical response. That means when you say ‘apple’, the students use their body to make a shape like an apple. If you yell out ‘octopus’, they know to wiggle their arms, hips, and legs, just like an octopus.
The same goes for sentences and phrases, too. Tell their story with their body, and just like expressions, the bigger the movement, the better!
Ever see a snippet of a shareholder’s presentation put on by Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs? Simple, but effective, right? They don’t just stand center stage—they walk side to side, occasionally pausing to present props or video. At the very minimum, it’s the least your students can do!
Costume & Props
#Realtalk. That’s just how it happens sometimes. And besides, it’s a show—props and costumes are just fun to look at!
There’s no doubt you’ve noticed that sometimes your ESL students can sound ... quite robotic when speaking English. There’s no ... vibrancy. They’re very monotone and lack any kind of changes in pitch when they talk. And no matter how good they are in other categories, you just know that’ll hurt their performance by tenfold. So how can you help?
Well the first thing you should do is assist them in reading their speech how it should be read. Place emphasis on certain words and phrases, slow down here, speed up there, take a pause between those sentences. Get the picture?
Next, jot down some grammatical symbols and techniques on their papers to help them remember how it should be read. For example, say this sentence in your head:
The big lion said, “This kingdom is yours. How will you protect it?”
Eh, it’s normal. Now let’s spice it up a lil’:
The BIG lion said, “This kingdom is yours. How will you protect it?”
See the difference? With a few minor changes comes along more substance, a better performance, and more points from the judges!
Help them Write + Add ADJ
On the flip side, let’s say you’ve found some speeches that can get the job done. But ... that’s it, they can only get the job done, and if you want to win the competition, that’s not what we want.
Here’s what you do: Revisit those speeches and add a whole lot of adjectives. And I mean a whole lot. Trust me, ADJ is the ‘ace in the sleeve’ when it comes to ESL competitions. They add intonation, expressions, actions, and better props. Check it out:
The princess ran to the prince and gave him a hug.
Nah. Again ...
The beautiful, long-haired princess ran quickly to the tall, strong, and handsome prince, and gave him a big hug.
Perfect! Can’t you see your ESL students performing the 2nd sentence better?
So, what do you think? Was there anything I forgot? Well, let the world know down below!