Simple English ~ Nicola Prentis

Thoughts on ELT, English and whatever else comes into my head

Easy conversation lessons

Things I’ve made or used without much adaptation to weave a conversation around. They can take longer than a one hour class. I take notes while the students are speaking to remind them of pronunciation errors, grammar points or vocab they’ve needed. This gets photocopied and given to the student, going over what has been noted either as delayed or on the spot feedback.

  1. This BBC graphic about predictions for the next 150 years is great. I wasn’t able to print it so just picked groups of three or four predictions in similar time bands, read then out and got the students to talk about them and decide which were more likely.
  2. superlative speaking. I cut these up put a pile face down and we talked about them but the students are encouraged to use the sentence frame to structure their answer. Example: The most scared I’ve ever been was…
  3. Have you ever Board game template twist on the well known Liar game. I get students to brainstorm ten verbs, then add their past participles. Then in groups of three or four they fill the squares of the board with Have you ever….questions using their verbs if they want. (The brainstormed verbs act as imagination scaffolding). Tell them to make them interesting for conversation otherwise you can end up with “Have you ever eaten a sandwich?” (I blame coursebooks for this as they teach students that boring, gap fill ready, grammar sentences are how English is formed.) Play it as a board game where whoever lands on a square must answer “Yes, I have” and the others have to ascertain the truth of it by asking questions. Award points to liars that convince the others they’re telling the truth or to questioners that guess Truth/Lie correctly.
  4. After a few lessons, I take the notes I’ve been making, pick out the most useful language and make conversation questions with the TL in bold and its vowels removed. Students fill in the letters to jog their memories, then we use them for conversation and I usually come back to them next lesson and play taboo/pictionary/backs to the board etc with them.
  5. Life on Mars, a short article with pre and post conversation topics. You can pick out vocab/adapt as needed for the level of your students as this is as the original.Life on Mars
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3 comments on “Easy conversation lessons

  1. David McFetridge
    May 21, 2015

    Hi Nicola, I like your idea about the BBC timeline predictions. I’ve seen those kinds of things loads and never thought about using them in class.
    I find that controversial topics like capital punishment can be great conversation starters (when you know the class well enough of course) as students usually have strong opinions.

    • Nicola
      May 21, 2015

      I actually find that so-called controversial topics generate less discussion than day-to-day ones as most people tend to converge on the less controversial viewpoint. The most heated argument I have ever seen came from one student in an advanced conversation group saying they treated their dog as a member of the family and another boy thought that was the most stupid, wrong thing ever.

  2. David McFetridge
    May 22, 2015

    Ha. Ok, depends on the class I suppose!

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