Fillers for fluency

Ok, so a lesson I first did a long time ago and one that i have tweaked a few times since.  It is a bit of a test-teach-test lesson and I often find that it really does do a good job of making your students sound more natural. You will need to either record the two texts yourself or email and get them from us that way. Level: pre Int upwards ( I have used this with CAE classes) Time: 40mins-1hr Main aim 

  • To help students converse more naturally by using discourse markers and back-channelling.

Subsidiary aim

  • To raise awareness of the sub-skills used by fluent speakers in discourse.
  • To practise discussions by giving students free speaking practice.
  • To practise listening.


1 Test: students are given  a question, think about it and generate ideas,  and then record themselves answering it in pairs together.  The recording is saved to be used later in the lesson.

2 Models: Students are played first dialogue and then second and asked to discuss which sounds more natural. Students are asked why they think it is more natural? You may need to play the recording twice.  Group feedback on which is more natural. 1st one is more natural and you need to make sure students can then say why – use of fillers / backchanelling etc.

3 Target language: Students given tapescript of the listening with gaps for featured target language. (May need to listen to recording 1 again)

  • Check with completed version of the tapescript which contains one mistake to test the students listening and raise the level of challenge.

4. Matching meanings:

  • Students match discourse markers with given meanings. These can be cut up to help engage kinaesthetic learners.

Feedback in the form of a matching exercise on the IWB.

5. Controlled practice

  • Students work in pairs to add discourse markers to a question that they answered in stage one and record it.

Students listen to compare their conversation and decide which sounds more natural.

7. Reflection: Students give feedback on which conversation sounded most natural


1. fillers-for-fluency-1

2. Recording 1 – 

Recording 2 – 

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