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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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Problem/Advice Reported Speech Activity

reported speech

You’ll often find reported speech in some of the higher level ESL/EFL textbooks, but it’s not easy to design an interesting, engaging activity to use with it. Check out what I do related to giving advice. Problem/Advice Reported Speech Activity If you have high level students, an excellent activity that you can use for reported speech is problem and advice. They just naturally fit well together. Show the students a problem that you found online or made up. Here’s mine about a high-school student dating a college guy. Note the reported speech examples that are underlined. I wrote it myself…

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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…

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ESL Speaking Activity for Adults: Something in Common

esl-speaking-activity-for-adults

ESL Speaking Activity for Adults: Find Something in Common If your students are not shy, this ESL speaking activity for adults is an excellent way for everyone to get to know each other. Here’s how you do it: The students stand up with a piece of paper and pencil in their hand. They have to talk to everyone in the class to try to find something in common (they are both from Seoul, or they both know how to play the piano). Once they find this thing in common, they write it down along with the person’s name. They keep…

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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!…

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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…

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Partner Conversation Starters | English Conversation Starters

conversation

Have you ever noticed that if you ask students want they want to work on, they’ll often say, “free-talking.” It’s kind of like a buzzword, and even the very lowest of low students will request this. 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…

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The Expert ESL Speaking Activity | English Speaking for Advanced Students

I love to teach speaking and conversation to intermediate and advanced level students. There are so many interesting, engaging activities for higher-level students that you can do with them. The Expert is an ESL speaking activity that I use as an icebreaker on the first day of class. For what I do beyond the first day, check out: 5 Lesson Plans for Advanced ESL/EFL Students.  ESL Speaking Activity: The Expert Here’s how you set up “The Expert.” Have the students write down 5 things that they are an expert in. I do my own list first by way of example.…

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Small Talk for ESL Students: 4 Activities to Try Out

small-talk-for-ESL-students

Small Talk for ESL Students I taught in Korean universities for 10 years. Something that I’ve noticed during that time is that my students are often really, really bad at engaging in small talk, even the more advanced level students. They usually know how to put together complex sentences and the intricacies of vocabulary usage but when it comes to having a basic conversation with something they don’t know, they’re often at a bit of a loss. This makes my students sometimes very awkward, shy and uncomfortable. This results in that my students seem like they don’t know English! However,…

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Role Plays for ESL Students

role-plays-for-ESL-students

Role Plays for ESL Students Skills: Writing/speaking Time Required: 15-40 minutes Level: Beginner to Advanced Materials Required: Nothing Role Plays are one of my favourite ESL activities for lower-level students. They allow beginners to feel like they’re “having a conversation,” but there’s some structure so they don’t feel overwhelmed. Here’s how it works-give the students a conversation starter to get them 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.). ***Anything besides, “I’m…

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