Today I’m going to be focusing on three minimal preparation, high impact starter activities which focus on oracy. I know that I am guilty, particularly in my teaching of Year 11, of focusing too much on writing exam questions. I’ve found that using the following activities can break the monotony and liven up the revision and exam preparation.

  1. Word association

I will admit that this one is adapted from the drinking games of my youth, but it can really help to get the minds of your students in the right place for the lesson.

Simply ask a student to say one word about a current topic and pass to the next student who needs to say an associated word. This should continue as long as possible. If you set the rule that the new world has to be related to the original topic the students quickly start to self-police and it ensures they are all actively engaged. You can also stop and explore a word as a class at any given point.


  1. Line up

This one is adapted from my ESL teaching days:

  • Ask the students to come up with three questions on the topic
  • They then have to line up in two rows, facing another student
  • When you say “go”, they ask each other their questions and respond
  • After a short time say “switch” and one of the lines have to step left to move to a new partner
  • They then repeat the process.


The beauty of this is that they are exposed to new questions and have to consider the questions they asked of a previous partner. The repetition and then fresh ideas / expansion can really help them to develop their responses. If you use this starter for around ten minutes they are exposed to a variety of differentiated questions, have to repeat and expand on ideas and develop their oracy skills. All you have to do is guide them.


  1. Image quiz

OK, this one does take a little preparation but it is worth it! All you have to do it create a PowerPoint with around ten images of objects which are relevant to your topic.

  • Split the class into two teams and they take it in turns to be given an image
  • When they see the image they get one point if they can say, for example, where the object appears in the play
  • They get two points if they can explore the relevance of that object
  • If they can give what you deem to be a brilliant answer (which can obviously be differentiated) you can award them three points. You could also turn this into quotation revision by awarding three point for the exact quotation about the object.

For example; if you put up an image for An Inspector Calls of the Titanic, they would get one point for “Mr Birling mentions that it is unsinkable in his speech”. For two points you’d be looking for something along the lines of “The Titanic demonstrates the use of dramatic irony within the play as the reader knows it is going to sink. As a result of this we question the wisdom of the character of Birling” and so on.

Just a word of warning with this one – make sure the students know beforehand that your word on this is final. It can get quiet heated in that exciting “they are learning and loving it” kind of way that we live for!

I love this activity because they all listen so well to the responses (to make sure you are awarding fair marks!) and they really strive for the three point answer. This starter serves as a brilliant revision exercise and helps to develop oracy skills. Win-win!



As always I hope you find these useful and feel free to post any starter activities you’d like to share in the comment box. Have yourselves a lovely weekend.


Oracy focused, minimal preparation starter activities for GCSE English

2 thoughts on “Oracy focused, minimal preparation starter activities for GCSE English

  • February 24, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    Great ideas. This weekend I shall make a collection of images for my poetry GCSE/IGCSE students. This is going to be fun to prepare. Thanks! Have a creative weekend! Brigid

    • February 25, 2017 at 9:37 am

      I’m so pleased that you are going to use the idea with your students! Have fun with the preparation. I hope your students enjoy it too!


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