English Conversation Teaching Tip | How to Teach ESL Conversation

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Teaching English 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: “How was your weekend?”
B: “It was good.”

A better conversation would look like this:

A: “How was your weekend?”
B: “It was good, I saw a movie.”
A: “Really? What movie?”
B: “I saw Kung Fu Panda. Have you seen it?”


A: “How was your weekend?”
B: “It was a bit boring, I just stayed home. How about you?”
A: “Oh, mine was fun, I went to my favorite restaurant.”
B. “What did you eat?”

See What I did there to Keep the Conversation Going? 

An answer, then a follow-up question using one of the W/H words.

I remind my students of these key question words: who/what/when/why/where/how. I then tell them that they can almost always use at least a couple of them to ask a follow-up question to their conversation partner.

Also, teach your students question forms; it’s maybe not as obvious as you think since questions are formed in a variety of grammatical ways in other languages and your students may not know how to make them.

I’ll usually write a couple examples on the board, and leave them there for the weaker students during any English conversation activity I do. It’s kind of a crutch, but if that’s what it takes to get the weaker students speaking English, then so be it.

More Information about Teaching Students to Ask Questions

Like this Advice about Teaching English? 

Yes? Then you’re going to love this book filled with practical tips and tricks for teaching English speaking: 39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities: For Teenagers and AdultsIt’s lesson planning made easy, guaranteed.

There are dozens of interesting and engaging English speaking activities that will help your students to have fun while learning English at the same time. Variety is the spice of life! Get some in your English classes, okay?

The book is available on Amazon in both digital and print formats. The digital one is less than a buck and can be read on any device by downloading the free Kindle reading app. How’s that for value?

You can check it out for yourself over on Amazon:


Teaching English Conversation: Have your Say!

What’s your top tip for teaching English conversation? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.

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