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Adult English Lessons / Discussion Classes

Example Lesson Plan for Conversation Class (subject base)

Read this article and get some new ideas on how to improve your stale discussion classes.


In this article you will find a sample lesson plan for of subject based conversation class. These conversation or discussion classes focus on giving opportunities to our students to practice their conversational skills. These are different from “standard” classes in that standard classes focus on the skills needed to have a conversation and English, these discussion classes focus on the actual discussions and conversations. The following lesson plan is best used as a template. You can follow it step-by-step and have a successful class but it’s better to use this as a general idea for creating your own lesson plans.


Type of class

Discussion Class (Subject Based)


English level



Class time

70-90 minutes


Lesson plan

Topic related warm-up questions

Vocabulary list

Sub topics


Example questions


Sentence structures



Step by step

Topic related warm-up questions

We’re going to start the class by asking some moral questions that are related to the subject that were going to go over later in our discussions. Today’s lesson subjects will be “work”. Let’s take a look at some example warm-up questions that we can ask:


How many different jobs have you had?

When you are young what did you want to be?

Is there any type of job that you would never want to do?

What are five things that make people unhappy at the workplace?

What are five things that make people happy at work?


Here you have a couple choices about how to approach these warm-up questions. If you don’t have a lot of time than you as a teacher can simply ask some of the questions to the students to the problem with this is that if you asked the questions in this way and most of the time the students are not going to ask any follow-up questions to the students’ answers. This means that you’re not really having much of a conversation. If you have time and probably the better approach to this is to ask a few of the students some of the questions. Then ask a follow-up question to their response. Then maybe ask another student their opinion about the other students reply. Here you’re basically modeling a conversation. You’re giving them an idea of what you want them to do. After modeling this short conversation you can break the class into teams of two or three. Simply tell them to ask each other these warm-up questions and if possible ask follow-up questions and try to keep the conversation going as long as possible. In terms of how long you want the students to do these warm-up questions is up to you. If the students are having a good time and there’s speaking English in their having long conversations and by all means let them continue. They are practicing having a conversation English. But if you notice that the students are having trouble continuing the conversations or they’ve run out of questions asked then you can cut this activity short.


Vocabulary list

Now we’re going to focus on some vocabulary words that are related to the subject “work”. Let’s look at some of the words:


Over time


In charge of


Laid off






We need to choose some kind of vocabulary activity for students to practice these vocabulary words with. There are many different vocab activities that you can do. It depends on what your students like, their level of experience and how much time you have. In this example lesson plan we are going to show you one of the more simple activities that you can use with new vocabulary words but try to remember that it’s a good idea to mix up the activities you do when learning new vocabulary. Do not do the same activity over and over.

We are going to provide our students with a sample conversation. That sample conversation is about our subject “work”. In the sample conversation there will be some blanks where the students will have to choose a word from the vocabulary list and write that word in the blank to complete the sentence. Of course you have the students do this by themselves but I always like having the students work in pairs. So I will split the class into groups of two. And give them the sample conversation and the vocabulary list. Before I tell them to start I will give them short explanation of what the vocabulary words mean with some quick examples. After that I will tell them to start working on the sample conversation. If they finish early I will tell them to read the sample conversation together. I’ll give them a couple minutes to finish the activity and then I’ll go over the answers with them. If you have time it’s a good idea to turn this simple process of telling the students answers into a short listening exercise. You can read the sample conversation and the students have to listen for the missing words. Then after you read the conversation you can ask the students the answers for each sentence. Let’s take a look at the sample conversation:


Michelle-last week my boss called me and for a one-on-one meeting. I was really nervous, I thought that I might get (fired) but he (promoted) me.

John-that’s great Michelle. Congratulations.

Michelle-Thanks John. Now I’m (in charge of) the human resources department.

John-Wow! That position has a lot of (responsibility).

Michelle-Yeah, I know. I’m a little worried though.

John-About what?

Michelle-Well, I’m afraid that the job is a little (monotonous). There’s also a lot of (paperwork).

John-But I thought you wanted to be the head of the department.

Michelle-No. I wanted to be the (manager) of the East Asian office.

John-While Michelle. You really have a lot of (ambition).




Now we’re going to go over another shorts conversation with the students. This conversation is basically modeling what we want the students to do later in in class. It’s going to be two people talking with each other and exchanging their opinions and ideas about today subject “work”. We’re going to use this short conversation to introduce some example questions that we will teach the students and the next step of the lesson plan. Let’s take a look at the short conversation

Jason-Would you rather work for a stable company or the self-employed?

Ethan-That’s a difficult question. I guess I would rather work for a company.


Ethan-Well, I have two children and a wife and I like the idea of having a steady paycheck every month. If I was self-employed I would probably have to worry about money every day.

Jason-That’s true, but if you are self-employed you would be your own boss. You also could make more money.

Ethan-What about you Jason? What’s your dream job?

Jason-I don’t know. I’d like to have a job where I have a lot of opportunities to travel and meet different types of people. I’d like to travel to different countries.

Ethan-How about being an international salesman?

Jason-That could be fun. That would be okay as long as I don’t have to live abroad. I wouldn’t want to live apart from my family.

We’re going to have the students work in the same groups of two that they did in the vocabulary activity. We’ll tell them to read the short conversation and underline any words or sentences that they don’t understand. Once they finish they should change roles and read through it again.


Example questions

Here were going to provide our students with some example questions that they can use to start their conversations about work. Let’s take a look:

Would you rather work at a company or the self-employed?

What’s your dream job?

Do you want your husband/wife to have a job with a lot of responsibility?

Do you think it’s important for husbands and wives to spend a lot of time together?

Have you ever had a really bad boss? Tell me about them.

Have you ever had a really good boss? Tell me about them.

Would you rather be a famous movie star or of large companies CEO?

These questions with the previous warm-up questions will give the students a way to start the conversations that were going to do in the next activity. I will go over all of these questions with the students and write down some example replies. I will tell the students that these questions are conversation starters. So they are to use these questions to start their own conversations, they are also to use follow-up questions and supporting statements to extend those conversations. There are not to simply ask each question individually to their partner and move on to the next question. These are used to start conversations. Each question should elicit the conversation of at least 4 to 5 minutes. I will then remind them of the short conversation that we previously read. I’ll tell them that this is a good example of a way to start a conversation with one of these questions and extend that conversation with follow-up questions and supporting statements.




Now were going to allow our students to have him conversation where they try to use everything that they’ve learned up until now in today’s lesson. We want them to use the vocabulary, we want them to use the example questions and hopefully they will use the previous short conversation as a template for their conversations. But most important is that they simply talk. We want them to talk with each other about the subject. This is our main focus for the entire class. So if they do use the vocabulary words that they learned great. I’m very happy. But if they don’t it’s not a huge deal. I’m more interested in them having conversations in English for as long as possible. I will tell the students to use the previously learned example questions and warm up questions to start the conversations. I will separate the class into groups of two. I will tell them that they have 5 to 7 minutes to have a conversation about today subject. After 5 to 7 minutes I will stop all the conversations and create new groups of two and tell them to start a new conversation again.


Sentence structures

If you have a class that is under 60 minutes then you’re probably not going to be able to get this far into our example lesson plan. But if you have a class that’s a little longer then you might have enough time to go into the sentence structures that were going to talk about here. These sentence structures are simply sentences where the students can finish the sentences using their own opinions and their own ideas. Let’s take a look at our sentence structures for this lesson:

In my dream job, I would be able to……

I’d like to have more chances to….

I would really like to have more time to….

I want to marry a man/woman who……

I’m okay as long as….

I will write these sentence structures on the board and leave enough space for three or four lines under each. Then I will go over each sentence structure and use different ideas to complete the sentences. Let’s take the first example. On the board I would write

In my dream job, I would be able to travel to many different countries.

In my dream job, I would be able to finish work at 5 o’clock.

In my dream job, I would be able to make a lot of money.

So I would explain the sentence structure and how to use it to the students. Then I would show the students how to create their own sentences. After I write two or three examples on the board I will ask a student to complete the sentence with their own idea. Then I would write the sentence with their idea on the board as well. I will do this with all five sentence structures. Then I will tell the students to complete all of the sentence structures by writing the sentences in their notebook.



Now were going to give the students another chance to have a conversation about work. We’re going to fall the same basic template as before but this time were going to create groups of three instead of two. This is a small but important difference. The students will probably have to have conversations with more than one person. So it’s important that they practiced doing. After I separate them into groups of three I will tell them to use the previously learned questions to start a conversation. They have 5 to 7 minutes.



It’s important for the teacher not to lose track of the idea that in these discussion classes the main purpose is to provide our students with an opportunity to have conversations. It’s great if they learn new vocabulary words, it’s important for them to learn new sentence structures and practice her listening but above all else we want them to talk about different subjects in situations. So it’s a good idea to have a template for your lesson plans and then for each class consider the students and their experiences and their personalities and change that template to best suit the students in that class. In short, don’t be afraid to change your lesson plans to better match your students.

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Randy League owns an English School in Japan and has been teaching English for 20 years. In his free time he trains MMA , plays video games and studies Japanese.

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