Teaching English conversation

Next week we start our English conversation group for people whose first language isn’t English; we are a group of volunteers, about eight of us and our ‘students’ come from all over the world which is wonderful – a glimpse into other lives and cultures! It is definitely a two-way thing, and as well as making friends we learn as much as our ‘students’ do.

If I think off the top of my head we’ve had students from Spain, Portugal, Poland, Bulgaria, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Georgia, Hungary, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ghana, Nigeria, Thailand, Malaysia, China, Laos, Viet-Nam, Brazil… and I’m sure there are other places I have forgotten!

We have developed a pattern for our lessons, but it is quite loose and open to inspiration as we never know how many students are coming, or which ones, so numbers can vary from five to twenty-five! However we usually organize the lesson like this:

  • doors open from 9 o’clock but we are arranging chairs and getting sorted!
  • 9:30-9:40 general chat and quiz (usually items on a table to identify)
  • 9:40 greeting and introduction then 15 minute grammar point with conversation and written exercise
  • 10:00-10:15 general language points and practice, for example, greetings, introductions, talking about the weather
  • 10:15 – 10:30/40 coffee and conversation
  • 10:40-11:20 group work – usually beginners, intermediate and advanced groups which will be doing individual group work to encourage and stimulate conversation and teach language
  • 11:20 bag-time and notices; bag-time is a wonderful part of the morning, where teachers take it in turns to bring a bag of associated items; for example, Jackie brought a bag of things you might need for a day on the beach, Lilias brought her collection of china mugs, Judith brought a collection of brushes used for different things…

Photo0323A collection of china cows!

At the end of each term we have a party, quite often we invite musical friends to bring their instruments to play for us and we have activities and games as well as lots of nice things to eat!

Today we are getting together to plan for our lessons this term; I expect we will do a lot of planning but we’ll also be catching up with all our summer news!


    1. Isabel Lunn

      Did you know there’s an elephant parade going round the country? It’s at the Trafford Centre at the moment. The nearest it’s coming to you is Cardiff in November. If you type in Elephant Parade 2013 it’ll show you a short film with them


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