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How to teach conversational lessons

Hello, there. This post was written to share my favourite resources aimed at conversational lessons – both online and face-to-face. I hope you find it useful.

1. SET THE SCENE FOR THE TASK

The first minutes of the lesson are meant to arouse your students’ interest. You want to ‘hook them’ into conversing with you. Setting the scene can be done through a short fascinating video or an interesting image. 

2. PREPARE YOUR STUDENT FOR THE TASK

In order to maintain your students’ interests, attempt to pick topics or situations that appeal to their age and if possible interests. Set the language and content of the task at this stage, for example, ask them what their favourite films are or the genre of music they enjoy. 

3. GIVE STUDENTS TIME TO REHEARSE

After a topic is selected it is important to ensure that your student(s) do not write down their ideas. Their options at this stage are to either rehearse it orally or in their minds.  At this stage, the teacher should listen to students carefully.

4. MONITOR 

At this stage the teacher should monitor the student’s production, taking into account the content and form. This is also the time to assess the effectiveness of your lesson and identify gaps in your student’s knowledge. Take notes if possible.

5. WRAP-UP THE ACTIVITY

At this stage focus on the content and probe your student’s comprehension and new language discovery. For example use questions such as,  What did you find out today? What did you learn from each other? ( if there is more than one student).  Attempt to make this conversation as spontaneous and natural as possible.

6. GIVE FEEDBACK

Give feedback – It is crucial to provide feedback that is oriented to the student’s goals. Focus on the new language that emerged. Systematise the emergent language to make it memorable to your student. Highlight the sub-skills they have used that make them good communicators, for instance, the use of pauses or fillers to gain time. By the end of this stage, students should feel a sense of accomplishment.

7. FOLLOW-UP

Give the opportunity for your student to do the speaking task again or do a similar task. 

And the sub-skills? Don’t forget them!

  • Pausing
  • False starts
  • Back-channelling devices
  • Pronunciation (rhythm, intonation, pace etc)
  • Body language ( yes, it is possible via the computer!)
  • Register
  • Adjacency pairs

 

Ready-made speaking lesson plans


1.  Viralelt is excellent for listening and speaking practice. All Viralelt posts consist of three parts: an embedded viral video, 10 conversation questions (Question time) and a listening activity (Sitting comfortably?). The only drawback is that it is aimed at intermediate and advanced students.

2. Cristina Cabal is a talented and creative teacher from Spain. You can find lessons for all ages and levels.

3.  One Stop English offers Guardian news lessons, Life from London videos among other lesson plans. Most of them are freely available, but some might require a paid subscription login.

4.  If you enjoy Videotelling, you will certainly love Jamie Keddie‘s lesson plans.

5. Rachael Roberts offers excellent lesson plans, some covering controversial topics.

6.   Film English won a British Council ELTons Award for Innovation in Teacher Resources, and the most prestigious European media in education prize, the MEDEA Award, in 2013, and an English Speaking Union Award in 2014.

7.  Teaching English British Council offers a wide range of lesson plans for adult language classes.7.

8.  Ricardo Barros offers a great collection of lesson plans on different levels and topics. Ricardo also designs lesson plans on controversial topics. 

9. Cecilia Nobre ( yours truly!)designs lesson plans for her online lessons focusing on speaking skills. 
10.  Off2class is a comprehensive platform of ready-made lesson plans divided into levels, topics and skills. 

Speaking lesson ideas

1.  Elllo has an array of audio and video activities with transcripts, quizzes and fill-in-the-blanks exercises that work well as a warm-up activity.

 2.  Guess the story. Give students a set of pictures of a real article/story and they have to come up with the story. You can give hints, ask questions or challenge them. Display the pictures on a powerpoint presentation, Canva or Google drawing. 

3.  Audio recordings such as SoundCloud or Vocaroo for several purposes, given a time limit. Upload it directly to their Google Drive Folder and save its link. Ask your students to:
 ● To explain their favourite recipe 
● To talk about their least/ favourite group, hobby, mobile phone, outfit 
● To describe traditional games, unusual customs…etc. 
● To give a book/film review 
● To talk about the latest picture or status they posted on their social media. Or the latest picture they took with their phones. 

Other ideas using audios
● Give them a set of pictures and ask them to create a story ( use drawings.google.com, https://www.canva.com/ or ppt to display the pictures and download it as a file)

 ● Give feedback on their writing 
● Set up an oral diary
 ● Give them some words and expressions and ask them to create a story
 ● Give them some pictures of a given text ( without giving the text) and ask them to guess what the story/text is about. It’s great for controversial or unusual stories. 

4.  Speakout Youtube channel on different topics and levels. Ask your student which speaker(s) they agree with, which speaker they disagree with, ask them the same questions the reporter asked. 

5. British Council sites 

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/word-street

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/starting-out

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/britain-great 

6. Role-plays 
● With different tones of voices and intonations     ● With a few blanks to be filled 
 ● Jumbled up and they have to reconstruct the dialogue      ● Finish the dialogue 

 

Which websites or resources do you use for your conversational lessons? Share them in the comments!


32 Comments

  1. Peter Stange says:

    Many thanks for all the useful info!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Katarina says:

    This is very helpful because I’ve never taught conversational English before and recently I’ve been thrown into a deep end and had to teach it. Didn’t enjoy it very much but next time I’ll try a different approach and different resources mentioned in above post. Thank you Cecilia.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Heloísa Quirino de Oliveira says:

    I loved your tips. They will help me a lot. Thanks a million!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mohamed says:

    Hi,How are you ….Very thanks

    Like

  5. Juliana says:

    Made me feel like teaching conversation classes again!
    Many thanks and kind regards.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Madeeha says:

    🖒

    Like

  7. thebookfinca says:

    Wow, so many useful links. Thanks Cecilia!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for mentioning Viralelt, Cecilia.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ralph troper says:

    First, the ( adult) students sit in a U configuration so that they face each other so they can speak to and at each other. Second, I offer them an opportunity to tell about their week, a book they read, or a movie they saw etc. I don’t give frontal grammar lessons but correct them as they speak, much as my mum corrected me as I was learning to talk. Students have a worksheet with about 15 fill-in sentences with missing new words from the previous lesson. I give them short provocative articles to read at home which we then read in class and discuss. Finally, we always end each lesson with a song- folk, popular or a translated song. Please note that the class shouldn’t have more than 14 students so that everyone gets a chance to speak during our weekly hour and a half long lesson. I only accept students that have an elementary understanding of English and not beginners. I also insist that they speak only English during the lesson. I’m the only one who may use their native tongue for purposes of translating or explaining.

    Like

  10. Nigel Pearson says:

    For “Conversation” class, I wonder what number of students and level are you working with? For example I teach “Speaking” lessons to Intermediate and Advanced high school students who are preparing for an external exam in which they must DISCUSS (in a semi-formal manner) a topic (such as a social issue).

    Like

  11. annforeman says:

    Hi Cecilia
    Just to let you know that we’ve shortlisted this blog post for this month’s TeachingEnglish blog award and I’ll be putting up a post about it on today’s TeachingEnglish Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/TeachingEnglish.BritishCouncil, if you’d like to check there for comments.

    Best,
    Ann

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Vanessa says:

    Thank you so much Cecilia. I loved your tips.

    Like

  13. Aparecida S.Silva says:

    Thanks Cecília! Love your articke.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Rosângela França says:

    Congratulation Cecília. Those tips, the article itself will be helpfull and practical for my classes. I really want to share information on teaching conversation and other related issues on English language toutoring . Thank you. Rosângela França. Facebook:
    4each1 English by Rosângela França.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Adriana chagas says:

    Thanks for sharing those tips!! I have already put them into practice!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. katiablog says:

    Reblogged this on katiablog and commented:
    Rare to find really good conversation material . Thanks a ton Ceci dear.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. MiH says:

    Thank you very much for sharing so many interesting ideas, Cecilia!

    Like

  18. david says:

    Thanks for sharing. I’m teaching a basic professional conversation group right now and this certainly will be very useful. 🙂

    Like

  19. […] How to teach conversational lessons. Hello, there. This post was written to share my favourite resources aimed at conversational lessons – both online and face-to-face. I hope you find it useful. The first minutes of the lesson are meant to arouse your students’ interest. You want to ‘hook them’ into conversing with you. In order to maintain your students’ interests, attempt to pick topics or situations that appeal to their age and if possible interests. After a topic is selected it is important to ensure that your student(s) do not write down their ideas. […]

    Like

  20. Apoven says:

    Congrats on being shortlisted!
    That’s a great list of sites for ready-made speaking lesson plans. The website and resources I use can be found here: https://www.apoven.com/english/conversation-topics/. It’s fairly new (this March) and a constant work in progress, but I’m really enjoying getting what I teach in my face-to-face university classes in Seoul into an online format. 🙂
    I’m looking forward to exploring more of your blog. It’s great to connect with like-minded teachers. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  21. […] question and let the learners know that they are going to ask this to their partner. A. A. A. A. How to teach conversational lessons. Hello, there. This post was written to share my favourite resources aimed at conversational […]

    Like

  22. […] How to teach conversational lessons. Hello, there. This post was written to share my favourite resources aimed at conversational lessons – both online and face-to-face. I hope you find it useful. The first minutes of the lesson are meant to arouse your students’ interest. You want to ‘hook them’ into conversing with you. In order to maintain your students’ interests, attempt to pick topics or situations that appeal to their age and if possible interests. After a topic is selected it is important to ensure that your student(s) do not write down their ideas. […]

    Like

  23. My current favourite conversation resource is the Quizoid app which is introduced & explained pretty well in this short video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oTGsUVg1fo . Really recommended – especially for intermediate/advanced learners

    Like

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