Secondary Objective Methods
Many students have difficulty continuing a conversation after an initial question. Mind maps help students practice thinking about related subtopics in a particular conversation. Click here for more information about mind maps (separate article)
Point of view/reading
A good way to help students get started with any conversation is to have them read a sample conversation. If the subject is economics and then the sample conversation can be two people discussing various issues and opinions about economics. Generally the sample conversations will have sentence patterns and questions that the teacher will introduce to the students and write on the board.
Sentence patterns and personalization
Sometimes it can help to provide students with a few sentence patterns that you want the students to use during their conversations. Generally the teacher is not going to explain the grammar behind the sentence pattern but simply the pattern itself and some examples.
Discussion/questions/discussion strategy sentences
Often this will depend on the level of students in the class. Lower-level students generally need more guidance and structure to help them start their conversations. But even with high-level students you can still introduce various questions and phrases that you would like the students to try and use it within their conversations. The basic idea is to force the students to use new phrases and new sentences so that they can later use them instead of relying upon phrases that they have been using for long time.
One way to help your student’s conversation ability is to practice creating follow-up questions. The teacher will write and initial question on the board and then some example follow-up questions to the response. Then when the students are having their conversations you can say “remember to ask follow-up questions”.
Creating role-playing scenarios for your students is another great way to practice conversational English. This is especially useful when you want your students to practice certain phrases or sentence patterns that might not come up in normal everyday conversations. Making use of role-playing cards that have the setting, scenario and some basic information about the character that the student will play can help directions and explanations down to a minimum.
This is more or less teaching vocabulary but instead of teaching individual words is or teaching words that are commonly used together. So instead of simply teaching the word “exam”, you can teach “pass an exam”.
Speeches can also be a good way to improve students’ conversation skills. This can be used for homework. Then, during the next class, have one or two of the students read their speech out loud to the class. When students have to create a speech they have to think about their argument and the structure of that argument. Speeches don’t have to be long. They could be a short paragraph or two. The important thing is to have the student think about their opinion, reasons for that opinion, examples and sentences that backup the argument, other points of view.
Similar to writing a speech, writing a report can also serve the same effect. Simply having the students write out their ideas or opinions can help provide structure to the students’ conversations.