Fillers Beware


The purpose of this competitive exercise is to encourage smooth and fluent speech while discouraging the use of filler phrases like ‘like’, ‘you know what I mean’, ‘err...’, and ‘umm...’.


Flexible, could be adjusted to every situation. This activity perfectly suits the needs of both groups and solo learners.


Ask for a volunteer to speak on any topic for one minute. It could be subject-specific, an anecdote, or what they look forward to doing when life returns to normal. Explain the scoring system: Students earn one point for every second they speak, but they will lose one point for each filler phrase used. For example, a student who speaks for 60 seconds without any fillers will score 60 points. However, a student who runs out of material at 45 seconds and uses five filler phrases will score 40 points.

Encourage students to avoid using fillers by speaking confidently, organizing their thoughts, and maintaining a smooth flow of speech. Give the volunteer a signal to start speaking and keep track of the time. As the student speaks, be attentive to any filler phrases used. Deduct points accordingly. After the one-minute speech, calculate the student’s score by subtracting the points lost for fillers from the total speaking time.