Suggestions for English Conversation Classes
By Jeanette Antoniuk, ISI staff
- Make a collection of interesting pictures. Ask the students to pick a picture and either describe it or tell a story about it.
- Pick a picture from your collection and build the conversation around it. For example, use a wedding picture to discuss customs and traditions in various countries. Discuss the parents’ role, the preliminaries, the actual wedding, honeymoon customs, etc.
- Have students practice putting different meanings into the same sentence by changing their intonation and pitch. For example, use the sentence: Is that your new car? Express anger, disbelief, ridicule, astonishment, horror, compliment, simple inquiry.
- Word collections by topics are a good device for vocabulary building. Put a word on the board and then ask the students to name all the things they can think of that relate to that subject. For example: hospital (nurse, doctor, injection, medicine, pain, broken limb, bandage, cast, operation, etc.) You can build conceptual groups (motion: from creep to rush); antonyms (build – destroy) and have the students use the words in a sentence or build a story from them, each student adding a sentence, if in a group.
- Keep on the lookout for current topics: an election, a local cultural event, a space shot or eclipse, a campus fad or event, published statements by well-known people.
- Introducing a new topic should take varied forms. You can introduce topics in some of the following ways:
- What people are connected with it? (Italians make pizza. The governor lives in the state capitol.)
- Is there a time connected with the topic? (I get up later on Sunday. T.V. programs are grouped according to the times of the day.)
- Where does the topic take place? (Animals of the forest, of the zoo, of the barnyard…)
- Classroom objects (one uses chalk on the blackboard)
- What shape, form, size does the topic have? Can it be visualized or drawn?
- What is the topic’s opposite? (In New York, it is cold in the winter, hot in the summer)
- What causes the topic to happen? (Weather conditions, food, i.e. when a man is hungry, he eats.)
- What is unique about the topic? (A traffic light has a red, yellow and green light)