Incorporating dialogues into the ESL classroom

As a teacher, how do you handle dialogues when you encounter them in ESL textbooks? Do you brush past them thinking, no one talks like that? Do you think they’re irrelevant to learning? Are your learners just reading them like text from a book? Or do you use them as effective tools that can provide opportunities to use English in realistic ways? Today’s blog will show you how you can view dialogues differently then use them to help English language learners develop greater fluency. Read more

Many times I’ve taught conversation classes where English language learners were so silent you could hear a pin drop. If it’s been your experience too, we’ll show you how to change that. We’ve prepared a planned conversation lesson strategy for you to use. Read more

How to Best Prepare an ESL Conversation LessonYou have a conversation class starting in a few minutes. But after a second glance of the material and topic, you determine it might be a little difficult for your class members. And, if you’re like me, there are times when you have just a few minutes to prepare a lesson based on an article or topic from an ESL conversation/discussion book. What do you do? Today’s blog will give you an option for such situations when teaching English. And, the following breakdown will help you visualize how it works. Read more

Using the 70/30 Rule in ESL ClasssroomsThere is a long-standing rule that many veteran ESL teachers know about called the 70-30 rule. What is the 70-30 rule? It is a ratio of student talk time to teacher talk time. We can state total class talk time during one conversation class period (60 minutes, 50, 45, 30, 20, etc.) as 100 percent. Seventy percent of the talk time should be student talk time. The remaining 30 percent should be teacher talk time. 

Seventy-thirty provides a formula for monitoring talk time in ESL conversation classrooms and an effective strategy. It is a guide for how much teachers should be talking and how much freedom students should be afforded to talk. It is not a hard and fast mandate where measurements need to be made. But it is a rule of thumb that helps teachers manage their conversation classes. The following are five reasons why the 70-30 rule is useful in ESL classrooms.  Read more

A teacher may have one of the best lessons of all time prepared, but without providing feedback, learner development can only go so far. Feedback in the context of TESOL is providing information to improve English language use. This information can be grammatical, lexical, or phonetic. When a dull pencil does not produce fine print, […]

Teach a Free-Talking ESL LessonAfter a long and tiring few days of teaching, you see that you have a conversation lesson today. You say to yourself, “oh, this good, I don’t have to teach anything, just talk with my students”. So, you enter the classroom with a potential topic or two to talk about with your class. After all, it is a conversation lesson, so you can talk about anything. But is that the idea of a conversation lesson? Read more

Teaching English Conversation lessons in TorontoI teach English immersion lessons in Toronto, and the number one request I receive from my students is to include more speaking practice into my lessons, as the majority of my students have difficulties conversing with native speakers.

When I tell my students that a conversation is like a simple activity of passing the ball, the thought of conversing in English becomes much easier. When someone speaks, they are passing a ballto the person they are having a dialogue with. So when its their turn to reply, they are passing the ball back” and they relate their own experience with what they understood from their partner. Then its their partners turn to do the same, and the activity continues.

This activity encourages full participation in the conversation. If students really challenge themselves, they eventually lead the conversation.

About the Author: Melissa Alvia is an experienced ESL and public school teacher, who completed OnTESOL’s 120-hour TESOL course. All combined, Melissa has 7 years of TESOL experience in Canada and abroad. 

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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.

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Teaching English Conversation Class with great discussionsTeaching an English Conversation class is about teaching interpersonal communication skills.  English Conversation teachers can incorporate the following steps to encourage a great class discussion that helps students develop their skills and feel confident during a conversation:

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Teaching an English Conversation lesson using taboo topicsTaboos can bring up some interesting problems in an English conversation class. One of the major complaints that teachers have with ready-made materials is that there is a strong tendency to play it safe and avoid the typical topics we actually talk about in everyday settings. There is a good reason for this: certain issues will be more controversial for our learners than they are for us. This can lead to friction, anger and embarrassment in the classroom and can also do irreparable damage to the classroom dynamic. As new teachers, it is natural to be hesitant when broaching ‘dangerous’ topics in class. However, more experienced teachers are able to recognize the motivational value of subjects which better reflect real world issues.

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