Roberta Reiss: Five important tips for a great conversation club

Roberta Reiss

1.  Research grammatical structures that are challenging for English learners.  Chose only one or two per session for participants to focus on, practice and perfect.

2.  Always model an activity first, i.e. show by example what you expect the participants to do or achieve.

3.  More true conversation occurs if your activity is designed around “closed tasks.”  For example, ask a participant to reproduce a drawing based on the directions offered by his or her partner.

4.  Design “two-way tasks” for your activities so that an exchange of information is required.  For example, asking one learner to tell a story to another learner requires only that the second learner listens.  The “two-way” version of this activity would be to ask a learner to interview a partner and report the information back to the whole class.  This activity requires listening, questioning, answering and clarification.

5.  Try to include new vocabulary, a few idioms and a few verb phrases in every session.

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