Published 18th April 2017

If you’re teaching English as a Foreign Language to adults, chances are they are a chatty bunch. Though you may find yourself with a quiet student or two, for the most part adult learners enjoy engaging with their classmates and being able to voice their opinion. As EFL teachers, we can take advantage of this and utilise conversation in our EFL lessons get our learners thinking, talking and communicating.

What can you talk about it?

Anything and everything. Ok, not exactly anything. You do need to be aware of the teaching context you find yourself in as there may be some topics that are not acceptable for your students to talk about. You also need to be aware of the personalities of your students – they might enjoy some conversation topics more than others.

In general, though, if you stick to common, everyday topics – food, sport, jobs, family, films – your students should be able to take part and enjoy the lesson. Consider what you speak about with your friends and/or colleagues and try to replicate this in the classroom. Your students need language for authentic use so recreating real situations is exactly what they need.

Developing a conversation need not involve much preparation. Simply boarding a few questions related to a topic can get your students talking. Or, if they’re up for it, let the students come up with their own questions. Arrange the students in buzz groups and mix them up every few minutes to create a good mingling activity.

The questions can be factual, routine or opinion. For example:

What do people in your country usually eat for breakfast?

How often do you eat out?

Do you think changing your diet or doing more exercise is the best way to lose weight?

For an added challenge, jumble up the words of each question and let the students unscramble them before having the conversation.

If you want to be a bit more adventurous, you can incorporate more alternative or controversial topics which can make for very interesting (and heated!) conversations. Be careful if you do decide to steer away from the usual topics though; make sure the topic is suitable for your class and it is not an uncomfortable topic to talk about.

Conversations can be great additions to your EFL lesson. They provide a chance for your students to get to know their classmates, exchange information and voice their opinions. Conversations provide an opportunity for students to practise newly-learnt language or learn how to use new language, all while doing what they love: talking!