Conversation Starters: ESL Speaking Activity
If you teach lower level students, it can be a bit difficult to get a free-flowing conversation going. Most times, it’s almost impossible. The students often don’t know how to get the conversation started, but the good news is that you can help them!
For all but the lowest level students who are just learning the most basic of vocabulary and grammar, conversation starters can really help.
Here’s how you use Conversation Starters:
Time Required: 5-15 Minutes
Materials Required: Nothing
Give the students a conversation starter to get them going and prevent that awkward time at the beginning of many conversation activities when your students don’t know how to get it going. For example, if you’re talking about feelings in class that day, you can use:
A. Hey _____, how are you doing? B. I’m great, how are you? A. I’m _______ (sad, embarrassed, angry, bored, etc). B. Oh? What’s wrong? A._____ B._________ A.__________ , B.___________, ……….
Or, if you’re talking about festivals in Korea:
A. Hey ________, have you been to any festivals recently? B. (Yes…I went to_________)/ (No, but….___years ago I went to….)
This works well for high-beginner, or above students. They usually have the ability to ask (and answer) follow-up questions on the fly.
To finish off this activity, I’ll often require students to tell the class one thing they learned about their partner.
If you have 12+ students, just pick and choose a few people at random. Or, choose one person from each group to do this. It’s boring, and also a waste of time to do it with 20, 30, or 40 students.
Variation for Lower-Level Students
You can use the same conversation starters for this, but with the following adaptation.
Give the students about 10 minutes to write the conversation with their partner. You can adjust the number of lines to suit the ability level. Then, the students memorize their conversation, and recite it in front of their classmates.
I always make it a requirement that students memorize their conversation, of it’s very, very boring to watch!
At the end of each group, I’ll often throw in a follow-up question of some kind just for fun.
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