conversation classes
March 12, 2010 6:58 AM   Subscribe

How to structure a series of conversation classes for foreign students (15-18 years) with little or basic knowledge of english?

If anyone here has experience with this, could you give me some pointers and ideas? Bonus points if its fun!
posted by freddymetz to Education (3 answers total)
A friend who taught English to Chinese college students liked to show them video clips that included slang or some fun vocabulary and then discuss that. She used a lot of music videos and TV shows. It's always a neat way to incorporate cultural conversations, too.
posted by chatongriffes at 4:34 PM on March 12, 2010

Teach them both new vocabulary as well as common phrases in the same class. Ie. for the first class, teach them greetings and "my name is," and also teach them basic things like "i, you, he, she, me, good, bad," etc.
posted by canadia at 8:07 PM on March 12, 2010

Well, with little or basic English knowledge, you're not going to get much conversation.

What they need is a lot of structure - short dialogues they can read and practice with each other, that use basic language like:

talking about yourself, and other people
talking about favorites
asking for directions

They need to feel confident about the language they produce (hence the need for structure) so that they can eventually move on to more spontaneous expression.

Read your dialogues aloud, and have them repeat, part by part of the sentences (not the whole sentence at once, first in chunks, then in bigger chunks, then the whole sentence, then the whole dialogue)

Once you teach the basic dialogues, for example 3 different conversations with two people introducing themselves, you could then give them flash cards with the sentences with the verbs in simple form, and they have to recreate the sentence based on what they read, for example:
A: Hi, how are you today?
B: I'm fine, thanks. How are you?

A: Hi/how/to be/you?
B: I/to be/fine./How/to be/you?

Or you can just have them memorize the dialogue and hope they pick up on the grammar.

Also, teach them lots of vocabulary - vocabulary is like the bricks of language. They can have bad grammar, but with correct vocabulary and decent pronunciation, they can make themselves understood = communication= speaking a second language!

Also, although it's a conversation class, for beginning students it really is important to break down the verb "to be" and the auxiliary "to do". Those two structures will be obstacles for years to come if not learned properly.

Also, find out what things/music/sports/whatever they're into in their native language, and create lessons and vocab based on those things.

I continue to struggle with making language learning "FUN" lol... it depends a lot on the interest level of the student and your degree of creativity. Many simple games (tic tac toe, hangman, simon says, etc) can adapted for use in language learning, or you can offer prizes or set up competitions (who can write down the most irregluar verbs? who knows the most words to describe objects in a classroom? etc... ) Basically anything that has them using real (albeit simple) language is what you want.
posted by Locochona at 10:11 PM on March 12, 2010

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