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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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.…

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Do You Like to _____? | ESL Speaking Activity

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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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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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Discussion Starters for Children | ESL Conversation Topics for Kids

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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…

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ESL Speaking Activity for Adults: Something in Common

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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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ESL Speaking Warm up Activity | Famous People at a Party

Michael Jackson

An ESL Warm-Up: Famous People at a Party Skills: Speaking/listening Time: 5-15 minutes Level: Intermediate to Advanced Materials Required: Nothing This is an excellent ESL speaking warm up activity for higher levels. Put the students in small groups of 3-4 people. Have them pick four famous people, dead or alive that they’d like to invite to a party they are having. Then, they have to say the reason why they’re inviting them. I do an example like this: Person: Michael Jackson Reason? He can play some dance music and entertain us. Also, I want to know why he got so…

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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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English Speaking Tip: Keep the Conversation Going

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English Speaking Tip: Learn How to Keep the Conversation Going I’m sure you’ve had this experience before. You’re at a party, at school, or at a family event. You’re talking to someone and then you start to have nothing to talk about. It can be a bad feeling, and I know that it most definitely makes me nervous. I’m sure it’s the same for you. Here are some English speaking tips to help you keep the conversation going. Learn how to be an excellent conversational partner and avoid that awkward silence! Are you ready for some conversation awesome? Let’s go!…

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Small Talk for ESL Students: 4 Activities to Try Out

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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

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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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ESL Warm Up Questions | ESL Conversation | Teaching English Speaking

ESL warm-up

ESL Warm-Ups Questions One of the things I find with in English classes is that most of the burden is on the teacher. The teacher is the person who keeps the conversation going. She is the one who asks questions. She’s also the one who decides what to study and how. Whenever possible, I like to take this burden off myself and try to go as student centred as is feasibly possible. An interesting question is an excellent ESL warm-up to begin your classes with. They help ease the students back into using English in a fun, engaging way. This…

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