How I teach conversation classes

[Note: I wrote this quickly in response to a question so if it doesn’t make sense or is riddled with gaps or errors I am sorry. Sort of.]


Hello Mystery (new) Friend,

You asked, “Could you suggest some books or how do you go about just conducting conversation classes?:

Great question!

I also think it is interesting that I couldn’t answer immediately and needed some time to think about it.

Below are some scrambled thoughts.
(I suppose I should have said I teach “Discussion classes” but I am not sure if there is a difference?)

So, I basically organize my course around topics, which means that we will talk about one particular global issue for the whole of the class (3 hours).

I choose about half the topics (racism, environment, international marriage (in Korea), Korean culture, North Korea) and have the students choose a few more. They might choose equally big topics that are interesting to them. So, we know before the week what the topic is and students are encouraged to do some reading to prepare for the topic. If I have a good article/link idea I might share it as well.

So what do we do in class? 

Very generally, I like to have something to warm them up, again focusing on speaking or collecting their thoughts.

I like to do some typical language focused activities focused on the vocab related to the issue. This can be a chance to see what they know as well as a chance to introduce some words and also a chance to activate schema related to the topic

I usually try to focus on one aspect of communication that I have noticed seems a bit difficult. Examples of this might be something like, taking the floor, keeping the floor, asking for examples or something like this.

I also have time for open-ended questions in pairs and groups.
I like to change groups and partners as much as possible and ask them to report what they have heard.

At some point, usually toward the end, I like to have them make a product (ways to reduce pollution, advice for foreigners coming to Korea) or do a role play (6 nations North Korea weapons talk).

I like to spend some time giving feedback on what I heard and try to chose some mistakes/errors but also some instances where what they said was fine but could be said in another way.

I also try to collect simple informal feedback on the class (usually just on a note card).

Some recommended books/resources 

Teaching Unplugged  Dogme ELT

Global Issues
(Resource Book for Teachers)

Conversation Gambits

Conversation Strategies 

Discussion Strategies 

I don’t actually frequently use all these books but I think they might provide a good start for the type of thing that I am talking about.

Please let me know if anything is unclear or if you have any questions! 



    • mikecorea

      Please do let me know if you have other questions!

      Actually I enjoyed the chance to think about what I actually do. It has become quite routine so it is nice to take the time to explain it a bit.


  1. Ratnavathy Ragunathan

    The only difference is I’m doing this for private tuition, so I guess the discussion would be between me and the student. I like the way you have a post-discussion activity because I think it gets the learners to take the discussion to greater lengths…I need to get hold of those books..

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