5 Quick Ways to Start an English Conversation Class

Teaching English Conversation - strategies for teaching English ConversationWhile the best English conversation lessons are always those that you give planning and consideration to, sometimes you might sense the need to incorporate impromptu discussion activities into your classes. When you are looking to set up some spontaneous conversation, here are five techniques that work well.

1. Imitate Everyday Conversation Situations – Teaching English Conversation

Conversation is the most natural human method of spontaneous communication and occurs in many different settings on a daily basis. It is only sensible to recreate such settings in the classroom as a stimulus for conversation. Such imitations can take many forms, based on the preferences of your particular learners. For instance, you might wish to set up the class to mimic a formal introduction with a new colleague, a business meeting, negotiating the price of something in a shop, or merely chatting with a stranger on a bus or train. Basically, there are countless daily situations that require short dialogues between two or more people. These can be interesting for your learners, especially so if you can bring in a few props, or even just set the chairs in a way that feels similar to the real life situation. Remember that teaching English is about enabling people to communicate in real world situations!

2. Use Proverbs – Teaching English Conversation

All cultures have special sayings that only have meaning within their cultural environment. Basically, each country, culture or particular region owns a set of unique proverbs that both you and your learners can use to encourage discussions. There are a couple of simple ways to get started with proverbs. Firstly, you might want to write a proverb on the board and have learners discuss possible meanings in groups, then share their thoughts on what the meaning might be. This can develop into a team game in which one member of each group shares a proverb for the other teams to try and understand. Secondly, you could act out a scenario and have learners guess the meaning from your performance. Again, this could then be followed up by learners doing the same while class mates guess what the proverb could mean.

3. Play a Famous Scene From a Movie – Teaching English Conversation

The advent of YouTube has made this particular activity a surefire winner; you have access to thousands, if not millions, of the best clips from your favourite movies with just a click of a button. The easiest way to do this is to play a short clip from a movie and then get your learners to discuss their thoughts on the scene clip among each other. They can ask and respond to questions about who they thought the best characters were, or why the scene played out the way it did. Such use of movie clips can also work as a springboard for getting learners to act out the scenes themselves, or even construct alternative versions they wish had happened.

4. Show a Visually Mesmerizing Image – Teaching English Conversation

Having mentioned how good movie clips can be for getting conversation started, don’t feel that you always need to be so technological with your use of visuals in the English Conversation class. Think about using any spectacular images you come across in everyday life, like pictures you see illustrating stories in newspapers, or even the images used in advertising. Learners can discuss with one another what the people, animals or objects are saying, doing, or are going to do in the image. Creating dialogue for animals or inanimate objects is always a lot of fun and will lead to enjoyable conversation practice

5. Use inspirational Quotes from Famous People – Teaching English Conversation

Throughout history the famous and powerful have being leaving us with great quotes; these are a rich source of conversation stimulus in the language classroom. Military leaders, kings and queens, politicians, presidents and even entertainers have left us with immortal lines.  In the English Conversation class, you can start by sharing one of your favourites and have your learners discuss what events inspired the quote and what it means to them. You will probably find that they already have their favourite quotes and are willing and ready to share them with their class mates.

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Related reading:

How to Encourage a Great Discussion

Discussing Taboo Topics in an English Conversation Class