Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Conversation topics for ESL classes

One of the areas that ESL students need plenty of practice in, is the art of conversation. Often times they do not get a lot of time to practice their English outside of the classroom , so it is a very helpful activity for them to engage in as much as possible. In my own ESL classes I like to choose topics that are meaningful in real life, where hopefully some new vocabulary can be practiced and the students can contribute their own thoughts and feelings upon the subject at hand. This type of activity , over time can help increase fluency, confidence and is hopefully a stimulating activity that engages their interest.
Some of the topics that I have covered recently are:

  • Alternative energy sources- some of the vocabulary we included was solar energy, green house gas emissions, hybrid cars, electric cars, fossil fuels, lithium batteries, EM technology.
  • Voting and Government - included vocabulary such as Democrat, Republican, congress, senate, senator, land-slide, ballot box, electronic voting, robo calls, election year, campaign contributions, President -elect, Vice president, nominee, candidate, swing state.
  • Movies - useful vocabulary that was pre-taught included blockbuster, commercial hit, box office flop, comedy, romantic comedy, action flick, action hero, Sci-Fi, thriller, lead, character actor, leading lady, genre.
  • Favorite technological gadget that you simply can't live without! - I-pod, Internet, Blackberry, cell phone....
This is just a sample list of topics that have elicited some enthusiastic conversations so far. The students seem to have a lot to say on these particular issues. It can also be a productive exercise to look at some of the vocabulary involving how they feel about a certain issue too. Take movies for example. A useful list of words might be hilarious, sad, creepy, thought provoking, shallow, deep. You can expand this list as you see fit to best suit the needs of your students. I enjoy giving a class that will enable the student to go out into the world and be able to use the vocabulary in a real life situation.

I am a qualified ESL tutor. If you need help with the English language please contact me.