How to Teach English Conversation | Teaching English Speaking

English-conversation

How to Teach English Conversation Many foreign ESL teachers abroad, especially in places like South Korea, teach predominantly English conversation classes. Some teachers (and students too!) have the perception that teaching English conversation involves just “talking” to the students. Free-talking does have a role in helping students learn English. However, it shouldn’t be the only thing we do in our English conversation classes. Teaching English Conversation: More than just Free-Talking There is far more to English conversation than just free-talking. In my first year of teaching, I was given a “free-talking” class with middle school students. My boss told me to…

Continue Reading

English Conversation Teaching Tip | How to Teach ESL Conversation

conversation

Many native English speakers when they go somewhere like China or South Korea teach “English Conversation.” Many people teach it poorly. Few do it well. Tip: It’s more than just talking to your students! Check out my #1 tip for doing English conversation a bit better. #1 Tip for Teaching English Conversation For those who teach English conversation classes, here is my #1 tip to do it well. Conversation is a two-way street and in order to be good at it our students need to know how to ask questions. Conversation is not simply asking and answering something like: A:…

Continue Reading

Picture Prompt | ESL Warm-Up For Kids and Adults

Picture prompt ESL warm-up

ESL Warm-Up Activity: Picture Prompt Picture prompt is a great ESL warm-up for kids as well as adults. It can be used for all levels from beginner to advanced. Show students an image and have them generate questions or speculate about the picture. Example for Lower-Level Students For lower level students, this can be purely descriptive: Q: What do you see?    A: I see a house, a car, and some people. Q: What colour is the car?    A: It is blue. Example for Intermediate Level Students For high beginner/low intermediate students, have an image which can generate questions…

Continue Reading

Tell your Story | ESL Speaking Activity to Practice Reported Speech

reported-speech-esl-speaking-activity

You can often find a unit on reported speech in most intermediate level English textbooks. But, it’s not that easy to design some ESL activities to practice this. Check out one of my favourite: “Tell a Story.” It’s fun, engaging, and creates some great opportunities for students to practice this important skill. Reported Speech ESL Speaking Activity Skills: Writing/reading/speaking/listening Time: 15-30 minutes Level: Intermediate to Advanced Materials Required: Nothing Have students write something interesting. Some examples are: most embarrassing moment, scariest thing you’ve ever done, your dream for the future, etc. Base it on whatever you are studying in class.…

Continue Reading

Do You Like to _____? | ESL Speaking Activity

esl-speaking

Do you like to ___? ESL Speaking Activity Skills: Speaking/listening Time: 15 minutes Level: Beginner-Intermediate Materials Required: Strips of paper (or students can make their own) Give each student five strips of paper. On each piece of paper they write something interesting about themselves. Then, collect them, mix them up and distribute them back to your students (three per student). At this point, everyone stands up and goes around the class asking questions to try to find the owner for each paper that they have. If someone is done early, you can give them another paper from the reserve pile…

Continue Reading

Just a Minute Game | ESL Speaking Activity

just a minute

The Just A Minute Game is a fun “Toastmasters” kind of ESL speaking activity. I like it because it gets students working on speaking fluently, without worrying too much about accuracy. To start, write up a bunch of topics on the board such as animals, family, jobs, hobbies, schedule, societal problems, TV, etc. The topics of course depend on the age and level of students. Just a Minute: Student #1 The first student throws a scrunched up paper ball at the board. The topic closest to where the paper hits must talk for an entire minute about it. The challenge…

Continue Reading

5 Tips for Engaging Apathetic Students | Teaching ESL Speaking

Engaging Apathetic Students

A reader question from Katrina about how to get her low level middle school students to participate in class when the last thing they want to do is speak English. I’ll start with this: It’s not easy! Engaging very apathetic students to speak in another language is a thankless job. However, there are a few strategies you can try. If they work, great. If they don’t, don’t worry too much about it. As the old saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” If your students truly don’t care about learning English, there…

Continue Reading

Daily Schedule: ESL Speaking Activity

daily schedule

Daily Schedule ESL Speaking Activity Skills: Speaking/listening/writing Time: 10-20 minutes Level: Beginner to Low-intermediate Materials Required: Nothing Activity Description for Daily Routine: It seems that in most beginner ESL speaking or 4-skills textbooks there is a unit on daily schedules, such as, “What time do you get up?” or, “What do you do in the afternoon?” A fun activity that you can do is to have students interview their partner. You can pre-select questions for lower level classes or let the students choose their own questions for higher levels. Make sure you specify a minimum number of questions if you…

Continue Reading

Discussion Starters for Children | ESL Conversation Topics for Kids

d

It’s common that native speaker English teacher have to teach “conversation classes.” This is not always easy to do with lower level students, especially kids who might be a little bit shy. I like to start off my classes with one of these interesting discussion starters for kids. Or, you can keep a few in your back pocket for those few minutes at the end of class when you’re done your lesoson. The Best Discussion Starters If you want some conversation starters for children, you’re in the right place. Use a favourite discussion starter to start your classes off in…

Continue Reading

Vocabulary Review Game for Kids and Adults | ESL Vocabulary Game

vocabulary-review-game

Flip Chart ESL Vocabulary Review Game Skills: Speaking/listening Time: 20 minutes Level: Beginner to Advanced Materials Required: Flip-chart or flashcards This is a fun way to review some vocabulary words. It can work for any level of student, but it’s ideal for beginners to intermediate when the vocab words are quite simple. I’ve used this activity for small classes of 10, or big classes of 20. It works equally well for all, but the ideal number of people on a team is around 5-6. More than that and not everyone is able to participate. The “captain” sits in a chair…

Continue Reading

Top 5 Fun ESL Speaking Activities For Kids | ESL Games

fun-esl-speaking-activities-kids

If you teach kids and are struggling a bit with how to make your ESL speaking classes for kids interesting and engaging, here are some of my favourite fun activities that I use in my own classes. Fun ESL Speaking Activities for Kids Rocks-Scissors-Paper with a Twist: it’s perfect for review and also makes an excellent activity for the class before midterms or finals with your beginner university students. It contains the perfect mix of skill and luck. SOS Review Game: remember playing SOS when you were a kid? Well, it’s back…ESL style. Kids, university students and adults all love…

Continue Reading

ESL Speaking Rubric | ESL Speaking Test Rubric

esl-speaking-rubric

A common question that I get from people is how to evaluate an ESL Speaking test. Although there are different ways to conduct ESL speaking tests, I do the 1-1 conversation with a random partner style. Simple vs Complicated There are also a million and one ways to evaluate speaking tests with an ESL speaking rubric. However, I always prefer the simple way for just about anything. If you look on the Internet, you’ll notice that lots of other people have talked about this before. But, a lot of the other ESL speaking rubrics you see are so complicated that…

Continue Reading

SOS Game | Speaking Review for ESL Students | ESL Game

SOS-game

SOS Game: Review Just about Anything I like to play the SOS game as a way to review whatever we studied in the previous class. I use it as a quick warm-up at the beginning of a class. It’s fun, interesting, and fast moving, so it’s the perfect way to begin your English class. For example, maybe the grammar point is countable/uncountable nouns and all the technical details surrounding it. It can get quite complicated, so it’s something I’d for sure want to review before moving on with new material. This SOS game is a great way to do that!…

Continue Reading

ESL Board Games | ESL Games Kids | ESL Games Adults

ESL-board-games

Board games for ESL students are one of my favourite in-class activities. Students generally love them, and they’re an excellent way to recap a class or unit. It does take a bit of time to teach students how to play them, but after doing it once, you can use board games a few more times during the course easily. I’ve also used them many times as a review activity in the class before a midterm or final exam. It’s quite easy to make a question to cover just about everything you’d possibly include on a test in a conversation class, or…

Continue Reading