Conversation

About a month and a half ago Sarah and I started adding a little bit of conversation into the beginning of the lesson before moving into the work in the book.

It has worked amazingly well and the students are definitely improving their speaking skills.

There are many ways to approach this:

In my middle school classes and upper level classes, I ask the students directly  “How are you today?” or “How is everyone today?” or “How are you feeling?”
and write down what they say with correct tenses in sentence form. Then I have my students read it back out loud.

In my lower levels I let one of my students write it out on the board and now I have a class where they love to do this. Writing not only helps the students with spelling, but it helps them sound out the words when they write it and then speak it.

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As you can see, the students love to draw and write how they feel.

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Another fun thing to do is count and keep a tally of how many times the students use a certain word. In the example below my students used happy 4 times, so every student used it once. So at the end I say “Everyone is happy today.” This also shows the students how often they use the same word.

My classes are now answering questions such as “What did you do last night?”

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You can direct conversations with students:

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It also works great with upper level students because you can have the students have conversations with one another.

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Ask questions like “How was your weekend?” and “What are you doing this weekend?”

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My conversation sessions at the beginning usually last 5-10 minutes with lower levels (depending on class size). Any longer and the lower level students start getting silly. It can last up to 15 minutes with upper level as it engages them to use a lot of words and form sentences which will take some time.

It may help with lower level students to print out a sheet with the names of emotions and pictures to coincide with them. Google translate is your friend as they will know words such as embarrassed, jealous, shy, proud, etc.

But this helps the students break out of the “I am fine” zombie prompt.

I take pictures of my board all of the time so I may try to start incorporating some classroom oriented posts.

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2 thoughts on “Conversation

  1. I would recommend that you read “Teaching Unplugged” by Meddings and Thornbury. It focuses on a conversation driven classroom, which is materials light and provides the basis for correcting (scaffolding) emergent language. If you can buy this, it offers some insight in what is considered “Dogme ELT”. Have a look at this side of teaching. It is the very emphasis of what communication and language is about.

    • Thanks for the comment Martin.
      I will look up Teaching Unplugged, it sounds like something I would definitely be interested in doing. My classes are revolving more and more around conversation because it is so important in order to master a language.

      Dogme ELT is the method I might be heading towards. I enjoy teaching and directing conversation more than the textbook, and I believe the students respond to it more as well.

      -Sean

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