ESL CONVERSATION TOPICS

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Conversation and communication are the basis for ESL lessons and so it is helpful to have a stash of conversation questions ready to bring into the classroom, no matter the topic. Here are the most popular conversation topics in an EFL classroom:

These topics all form the basis for most coursebooks. It is logical then that they will be used as conversation topics, usually as introductory exercises for the unit. Having discussions on topics is a way of introducing new vocabulary related to the topic or of revising known vocabulary. Once the students have a solid grasp of appropriate vocabulary, it is easier for them to speak about the topic.

So now that you have the topics, how can you turn them into activities? One idea is to come up with a set of questions yourself. This is easy enough, especially if you have a staffroom of teachers whose brains you can pick. To make it a bit more challenging for your students, give the sentences to your students in a jumbled order so that they need to reconstruct the questions before they can discuss them.

You can also divide the questions into two parts and put the students into pairs, each with a different half of the set of questions. This will then incorporate a listening aspect to the activity as they ask each other their questions, as they do not have the same questions.

Or, let the students come up with the questions themselves. Allow them some time to come up with some ideas and then divide them into groups where they can ask each other their questions and spend some time discussing their answers.

Another interesting idea is to bring into the classroom recent newspaper or magazine headlines which are related to the topic. Students can then discuss the specifics of those stories (or predict them if they are not sure) and this can be the basis for a discussion.

Be warned: the extent of your discussion depends completely on your class. Some classes can discuss one question for an hour if they can, while others will race through questions with one-word answers. If necessary, demonstrate the extent of the answers you are looking for with an example done with the whole class. In this way the students will have a better idea of what is expected of them.

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