A large part of my working week is spent in conversation. The value of conversation classes in teaching English has been much debated, but it certainly gives the student some very practical experience.
The trouble with talk
At the same time, it can be hard to keep conversation classes instructive and properly paced. ESL.about.com recommends, among other things, getting students talking about such deep subjects as ‘creating a new society’. Another idea is to get students debating (rather than arguing) over certain controversial topics
Depending on the size of your class, you can put students into pairs or groups so that they can discuss ideas together. One-on-one conversations are much harder than group conversations. In this context, I find discussion of a source material is more appropriate. This involves asking the student to read a text – a newspaper article, a famous speech, or something similar – and then we discuss things related to that topic, and our thoughts on the material.
What you need to do
Conversation classes demand a lot from the teacher. You need to be engaging, friendly and interesting. This comes more naturally to some than others. Conversations should also be educational – it’s an excellent way to learn new vocabulary and new sentence structures, but you have to make sure that your students are remembering how to use what they learn.
Are you teaching conversation classes? What tips can you share with us?