Planning a resourceful Conversation Lesson for your efl class
You may think that a conversation lesson for your EFL class consists of bringing a whole bunch of questions to class and then having the students talk about them. As long as they are speaking they are practicing right? Yes, of course, there can be value in having students ask each other questions. They have the opportunity to talk and share information with each other and use English creatively in conversation. It helps them develop fluency and practice the vocabulary and phrases they already know. This is especially true if you are teaching in their country where they may not have the opportunity to speak English at all.
Conversation classes can be More than just asking and answering questions
As a teacher you want to not only give them a chance to practice their English, you want to help them develop their vocabulary and phrases. You are their resource of native speaking phrases and vocabulary that they don’t have access to through the internet or English books. You are their go to person to answer questions and offer feedback and guidance. You need to take advantage of that as much as possible while still making your class student-centred with optimal student talking time.
How do you create a conversation lesson for your EFL class that is student-centred and vocab-packed? Simple! By pre-teaching vocabulary and phrases related to the conversational context before having students engage in a conversation with each other. Okay not completely simple, but I’m going to help break it down for you so that preparation is quick and painless.
By the time you finish this blog post you are going to know how to create a vocab-packed conversation lesson for your EFL Class with a free Conversation Lesson Plan!
There are two main reasons for pre-teaching vocabulary and phrases in a conversation lesson for your EFL class:
- As I said before YOU are their resource to give them guidance about words and phrases and HOW to use them. You can present them with common words and phrases related to this specific subject that they may not be familiar with. As a trained TEFL teacher you will have natural expressions and phrases that you can teach them that they may not learn online or in a textbook. BE THEIR RESOURCE!
- Some students may not feel comfortable with their speaking ability. They might be nervous or not feel like they are equipped to have a full conversation in English (especially lower level speakers). By providing students with some pre-taught words and phrases you are providing them with a basis to start their conversations and help them to feel more comfortable expressing themselves. Click To Tweet
Hey, as a teacher I know the value of giving students as much student talk time as possible. But it is also important to provide them with a basis to do this properly.
The basics of creating a solid conversation lesson for your EFL class
The most important things to incorporate into a conversation class is a presenting a vocabulary rich introductory lesson to help give them the appropriate conversational tools to express themselves. You also want to create opportunities throughout the lesson to provide feedback and have them use the feedback immediately.
What this kind of lesson looks like is: Present – practice – feedback – practice – feedback – practice – feedback etc.
Students need to improve their speaking skills as well as practice them. So providing feedback that they can then use immediately after helps them implement and retain the feedback and correction.
So let’s jump into planning a conversation class where students are able to learn and practice new vocabulary and sentence structures and help develop their fluency and conversational skills.
download a copy of the Conversation Lesson Plan!!
Your first step is choosing a topic for lesson. You want to make it relevant to the students you are teaching otherwise it will be difficult to keep them engaged and interested the subject.
What to take into account when planning a conversation class
- country and culture
- stage of life
- hobbies and interests (you’ve hopefully learned about from previous classes),
- why they are learning English (work, travel, general conversation etc.).
Thinking about these things will help you to choose a subject that will engage and interest your students as well as teach them speaking skills that they will actually use outside of class! To help you even more you may also benefit from actually asking students what subjects they would like to discuss.
For example, if I am teaching an adult class of business students who are learning English because they need to use it in their jobs I would choose subjects such as: making small talk, sharing ideas and opinions, presentations, explaining a process, conducting a business meeting, negotiations, giving feedback to employees, dealing with disagreements (at work).
Example Topic: Expressing an opinion about your company.
The next step is to consider what kind of language they will need to discuss these subjects and write down relevant phrases and expressions. For example, with the example topic above I’m going to come up with introductory statements for expressing an opinion and agreeing and disagreeing.
Expressing an opinion: In my opinion, I think, The best way to deal with this situation is, I think we should…
Expressing Agreement: I totaly agree, that makes sense, I couldn’t agree more….
Expressing Disagreement: Are you sure? I’m not so sure about that… , I’m not sure that will work…..
Finally, you want to come up with questions and situations that the students can talk about (again related to their specific situation). Now there are two way to do this. The first is to have the student come up with ideas in class. This way they can present real-life situations that may have happened them or are relevant to their lives. The second is to present them with ideas you have already prepared. This option may be good for classes who are quieter and less likely to speak up. Especially if you’re working in a country where students have trouble taking the lead and rely more on the teachers (such as Korea or Japan).
Example questions related to work:
- What do you think your company is most well-known for?
- What do you think your company needs to improve on the most?
How to Structure the lesson
- Create a warm up question related to the subject that will elicit the target language. At this point you are checking for background knowledge and vocabulary they may already know. Put up any vocabulary they use related to the phrases you will be introducing. (In this case expressing an opinion, agreeing and disagreeing)
- Give them phrases on the board or on a handout and have them match the phrases to the different categories on the board. They can work in groups for this one and then take it up as a class (more student talk time).
- Give them a question or scenario and do a sample conversation on the board as a class. Again this provides them with an example of how to actually use the phrases in context. You could even create a kind of fill in the blanks conversation.
- Have them practice with the first question in partners. Listen and write down any new vocabulary that comes up and add it to the board. Also monitor for any mistakes and put that up on the board.
- As a class correct the feedback (see if the students can correct the mistakes on their own first!). Introduce and practice any new phrases that have come up. Apply them to the conversation structrure.
- Students discuss a new subject trying to incorporate the new structures and fix any mistakes.
- Repeat 4 and 5 until the class is finished! Use the last 5 minutes of class to assign homework and check for understanding of the new phrases they have learned.
Successful Conversation class done!
Be proud of yourself for implementing a kick ass conversation class that actually allows students to learn and use new phrases and words that relate to them!
download a copy of the Conversation Lesson Plan!!
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Is there anything you would add to this lesson plan? Comment below!