An ESL Conversation lesson is a great opportunity for students to practice their speaking skills. What is great about a conversation class is that the goal of the lesson is pretty straightforward right? Get students to speak as much as possible! While this is a great goal to have, there is still more to a conversation class than that. Today I’m going to show you how to get the most out of your conversation class and create an incredible ESL conversation lesson.
While having the students speak is a general goal in an
- Pre-teaching vocabulary and phrases for them to use in their conversations. (For more on pre-teaching vocabulary and phrases go HERE).
- You also want to create opportunities throughout the lesson to provide feedback. Students need to improve their speaking skills as well as practice them. So providing feedback that they can then use immediately after helps them implement and retain the feedback and correction.
The general structure of this kind of lesson looks like this:
Present – practice – feedback – practice – feedback – practice – feedback etc.
So let’s jump in! After this post, you’re going to be able to plan a conversation class where students are able to learn and practice new vocabulary and sentence structures and help develop their fluency and conversational skills.
Plus, I’ve also included a Conversation Lesson Plan for you to use!
Your first step is choosing a topic for the lesson. You want to make it is relevant to the students you are teaching. Otherwise, it will be difficult to keep them engaged and interested in the subject.
What to take into account when planning a conversation class:
- country and culture
- stage of life
- hobbies and interests (you’ve hopefully learned about from previous classes),
- why they are learning English (work, travel, general conversation etc.).
Thinking about these things will help you to choose a subject that will engage and interest your students as well as teach them speaking skills that they will actually use outside of class! To help you even more you may also benefit from actually asking students what subjects they would like to discuss.
For example, if I am teaching an adult class of business students who are learning English because they need to use it in their jobs I would choose subjects such as: making small talk, sharing ideas and opinions, giving presentations, explaining a process, conducting a business meeting, negotiations, giving feedback to employees, dealing with disagreements (at work).
For this blog post, my topic will be: Expressing an opinion about your company.
For more ideas of conversation
The next step is to consider what kind of language they will need to discuss these subjects and write down relevant phrases and expressions. For example, with the example topic above I’m going to come up with introductory statements for expressing an opinion and agreeing and disagreeing.
Expressing an opinion: In my opinion, I think, The best way to deal with this situation is, I think we should…
Expressing Agreement: I totally agree, that makes sense, I couldn’t agree more
Expressing Disagreement: Are you sure? I’m not so sure about that… , I’m not sure that will work…..
Finally, you want to come up with questions and situations that the students can talk about (again related to their specific situation). Now there are two ways to do this. The first is to have the students come up with ideas in class. This way they can present real-life situations that may have happened to them or are relevant to their lives. The second is to present them with
Example questions related to work:
- What do you think your company is most well-known for?
- What do you think your company needs to improve on the most?
How to Structure an ESL Conversation Lesson
- Create a warm-up question related to the subject that will elicit the target language. At this point, you are checking for background knowledge and vocabulary they may already know. Put up any vocabulary they use related to the phrases you will be introducing. (In this case, expressing an opinion, agreeing and disagreeing)
- Give them phrases on the board or on a handout and have them match the phrases to the different categories on the board. They can work in groups for this one and then take it up as a class (more student talk time).
- Give them a question or scenario and do a sample conversation on the board as a class. Again this provides them with an example of how to actually use the phrases in context. You could even create a kind of fill in the blanks conversation (especially for lower-level classes).
- Have them practice with the first question in partners. Listen and write down any new vocabulary that comes up and add it to the board. Also, monitor for any mistakes and put that up on the board.
- As a class
correctthe feedback (see if the students can correct the mistakes on their own first!). Introduce and practice any new phrases that have come up. Apply them to the conversation structure.
- Students discuss a new subject trying to incorporate the new structures and fix any mistakes.
- Repeat 4 to 6 until the class is finished! Use the last 5 minutes of class to assign homework and check for understanding of the new phrases they have learned.
Successful Conversation class done!
Be proud of yourself for implementing a useful conversation class that actually allows students to learn and use new phrases and words that relate to them!
Did you use this lesson plan in your class? Let me know how it went in the comments below!