Teacher Tip – Conversation time

Students need a chance to practice informal conversations during class. This is especially true for students at level 3 and above. Try to set aside five or ten minutes during class to have a real conversation with your student(s).

Here are a couple of ideas to get you started

  • Chat informally with your student at the beginning of class. In a group setting, this is a good way to use those few minutes as students come in. In a one-on-one class, you can help your student get warmed up by asking simple questions, such as What’s new?/What did you do over the weekend?/ What have you done since last class? Avoid yes/no questions that students can answer with one word.
  • Check out the Internet TESL Journal website http://iteslj.org/questions/ . There are over a hundred topics listed and each one has many suggested questions.
  • Bring in pictures from the internet or magazines. Check out the NYTimes Learning Network for some thought-provoking pictures. https://www.nytimes.com/column/learning-whats-going-on-in-this-picture. Put your students in small groups to discuss the pictures. If you are teaching one-on-one, you can partner with your student.
  • Hand out index cards with topics and have students speak about those topics in small groups or pairs. Have your students come up with the topics by giving each student 3 cards and have them write something they are interested in (such as music, gardening, exercise, etc.) on each card. Shuffle the cards and hand them out randomly during conversation time.