Choose a target language passage, phrase, object or a picture and place it in the center of large sheet of paper and have students write 1-2 short sentences about it. The complexity will depend on the level of language that students have. It might a well thought out opinion, or a simple state of personal preference if the prompt is a piece of fruit. If it is a photo, students can write about what they think is happening. Students then write responses to the phrases of other students.
This is an engaging way for students to collect their thoughts on a topic and respond to the ideas of their classmates in quick, informal writing before engaging in a conversation. This can work with advanced students with access to more complex grammar structures and vocabulary or with beginner and intermediate students if the prompt is less complex or visual.
Do this activity before engaging a class discussion as a pre-speaking task and you will see how much more students have to offer. They can also have these conversations in small groups. This works best with no more than 6 students per prompt, so several station will need to be set up to account for all students in the class. The prompt can be different each station, then groups can rotate to a new station and write their thoughts, then respond to the other comments. After a few rotations there are lots of thoughts to comment on. The conversation can take place between each rotation or at the end. This activity could be used just as a writing activity without the conversational follow-up.