Monday, August 27, 2007

The Best ESL Conversation Topics

For the ESL or EFL teacher, one of the challenging parts of a conversation lesson is getting some students to talk! The ESL teacher has to choose a topic that appeals to the majority of students. I'm fortunate because I teach English language learners one-on-one. Sometimes it's easier to get one person to speak than it is to get a whole class of ESL students. Getting an EFL classroom to speak may be easier. The challenge there is to get the students to speak in English!

As I said, the best conversation topics are those of interest to the English language learner. The topics could be of interest because the student needs the skills for his or her job, or in order to more easily live in an English speaking culture. The best ESL topics will be those that are relevant to the student's life.

When an ESL student knows that he or she can take what is learned in the tutoring session or in the classroom and apply it in real life, then the student will be more likely to want to participate in the discussion.

Other ESL topics that could get students talking include things that students know about (e.g., their family, their home culture, their jobs, etc.) and things that are controversial (e.g., abortion, the death penalty, and other standard debate topics). I also use Compelling Conversations when I need a very thorough list of ESL conversation topics and questions.

One of the important things for ESL tutors and ESL teachers to remember is that the student(s), not the tutor/teacher should do most of the talking in a conversation lesson.

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1 comment:

Anne-Marie said...

hi Debra, I'm also and ESL teaching specialised in teaching conversation. Maybe you could look at my blog, I've got resources you can download for free. I'd be very happy to hear from you.
Anne-Marie
http://eslandcateaching.wordpress.com/