Conversation topics for intermediate esl students
May 2, 2018
In this lesson plan, teachers are provided with classroom activities designed to help intermediate ESL (English as a Second Language) students develop conversational skills.
After this lesson, students should be able to:
- Use appropriate English grammar and vocabulary in a conversation
- Answer and ask relevant questions based on a conversation topic
- Confidently express opinions and observations within the context of an intermediate level English conversation
30 to 60 minutes
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
Pose and respond to specific questions with elaboration and detail by making comments that contribute to the topic, text, or issue under discussion.
Present claims and findings, sequencing ideas logically and using pertinent descriptions, facts, and details to accentuate main ideas or themes; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
Key Vocabulary and Phrases
Since intermediate level English conversations can cover a multitude of topics, review the following general conversation vocabulary and phrases with your students before using the activities outlined below.
- I think/believe…
- In my opinion…
- Can you explain that again?
- What's your opinion?
- How did you come to that conclusion?
- Index cards
- One video of a friendly, relaxed conversation and one video of a heated exchange or debate. (TV newscasts or interviews are great sources.)
Converse and Report
- Write down conversation topics on a number of index cards. Be sure the topics match the conversational level of your learners. Topics can include:
- Pets, family, hobbies, sports, music, food (For lower-intermediate students)
- Opinion on climate change, careers, future plans/goals, challenges of learning English, current events (For intermediate students)
- Arrange the desks and chairs so that two students can sit face-to-face at one desk.
- Place one index card on each desk and give the student pair a few minutes to discuss the topic on the card.
- Have students switch seats and repeat the process with a different partner and conversation topic.
- At the end of the activity, bring the class together and discuss any communication challenges they faced. For instance, what can you say if you don't know much about the topic or are unsure of the correct vocabulary to use?
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- Tell students to divide a sheet of paper in half and to label the first column Polite Conversation and the second column Heated Exchange.
- Show the class a video of a cordial conversation between two or more people.
- Show the class a video of a heated or disagreeable exchange between two or more people.
- As students watch the videos, they should make comments and notes in the appropriate column.
- Instruct students to write a paragraph (or two) outlining the differences between the two conversations. Differences can include:
- Choice of vocabulary/phrasing
- Tone/volume of voice
- Body language of the speakers
- Collect the paragraphs for assessment or ask for volunteers to share their observations.
Small Talk Generator
- Divide the class into groups of 3-4 students.
- Tell each group to come up with five conversation topics that could be used as small talk when meeting someone for the first time.
- Invite one representative from each team to write his or her team's five topics on the blackboard.
- As a class, compare and contrast the topics each team came up with and brainstorm possible vocabulary and phrases that could be used when discussing each topic.
- Give students some time to mingle and try out the topics and language with classmates.
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