However, you needn’t always spend hours and hours memorizing textbooks and grammar charts in order to see results. If you are currently able to speak a language at a B1 (low intermediate) level or above, you can improve your abilities in just three minutes a day. In this article, I will explain how.
The “Three-Minute Show” method
When I was teaching English in China, each of the students had one chance each semester to stand up in front of the classroom and spend three minutes talking about whatever they wanted. Some students would plan elaborate PowerPoint, but a lot of the students just talked. They discussed things that they were passionate about. One girl told the class everything she knew about Justin Bieber. A boy talked about his new iPhone, sharing each feature with us as though he were a salesman. Another girl explained why she wanted a pet cat.
The three-minute shows helped the students use their grammar and vocabulary in an interesting way. They also gave the students a reason to speak for a longer time than they usually did. They weren’t just quickly giving one-sentence answers to questions. They were pushing themselves to share more complex and detailed thoughts.
Wouldn’t you like to do this? The good news is that you don’t need to have a whole class of people watching you. You can do a three-minute show alone in your house! Of course, if you want to find an audience, that is also possible.
Some Example Three-Minute Show Topics
Sometimes it can be hard to think of topics to speak about. If you need some ideas, you can look at this list. These speaking prompts will help you to improve your ability to share both positive and negative opinions. Some of them might take you outside of your comfort zone and help you discover which topics are difficult for you to discuss in your target language.
1. Introduce your hometown. What makes it special? What should tourists do if they visit?
2. Talk about a person who you admire. Who are they? What did they do? Why do you admire them?
3. Talk about your most unusual hobby. Use a dictionary to find words related to it.
4. Talk about a movie you saw. Explain the plot and talk about why you liked or didn’t like it.
5. Talk about your least favorite teacher at school. Why didn’t you like him or her?
6. Talk about something you wish you could say to somebody.
7. Talk about a book that you love.
8. Talk about a book that you hate.
9. Do research on an animal. Talk about what you learned.
10. Discuss an important event from your country’s history.
11. What do you know about space? Can you name the planets? Do you believe in aliens?
12. Talk about your family.
13. Talk about your job.
14. What is the best way to raise children? Talk about your opinions.
15. Talk about an interesting dream you had.
16. What is the best way to stay healthy? What do you do to take care of your health?
17. What is the best way to manage stress?
18. Talk about something political that you agree or disagree with.
19. Talk about something that makes you happy.
20. Talk about something that makes you angry.
21. Talk about something that makes you sad.
22. Talk about your favorite song.
23. Talk about a celebrity who you dislike.
24. Show and tell! Show an object that is special to you. Describe it. What is it? Where did you get it? Why do you love it?
25. Talk about your biggest goal in life.
How to do a three-minute show (easy)
Choose a topic. Open the timer app on your phone. Start talking. Don’t worry about mistakes. Nobody is listening. Just talk for three minutes. When you have finished, take a minute to think. Were there any words that you wanted to use but didn’t know in your target language? You can look those up in a dictionary to use next time. Did you need to spend a lot of time thinking or mentally translating between your native language and your target language? Try the same topic again tomorrow. It will get easier and easier. If you can’t talk for three minutes, try talking for one minute. Everybody has to start somewhere.
How to do a three-show (more difficult)
Choose a topic. Get a notebook and brainstorm some keywords that you will need to talk about that topic. If you don’t know the words in your target language, look them up in a dictionary before you get started. You can also make some notes on the main points you want to express. This will help you stay organized. Do not write out every sentence that you will speak. You should try to speak naturally, not like you are reading from a script.
You can use a phone to make a video of yourself speaking. After you are done, watch your video. Can you find your own mistakes? Is there anything you think you could do better next time?
How to share your three-minute show
Sharing your three-minute show is a great way to get feedback and really take your language learning to the next level. There are a few ways you can do this:
1. You can make a video of yourself doing your three-minute speech. You can post it on a social media platform like TikTok or YouTube. You can ask viewers to give you advice and feedback. Tag #italki!
2. You can share audio of your three-minute speech in the italki community. A friendly native speaker might even help you correct your mistakes!
3. You can book a lesson with an italki teacher. Just tell the teacher that you would like to spend the first few minutes of the class practicing a speech that you have prepared. Most teachers will be happy to help you! In my opinion, this is the most effective method.
What are you waiting for? Will you try a three-minute show? Do you have any great ideas for three-minute show topics? If you do, share them in the comments below.
Click the pic below to meet Shannon!