How to Use Conversation Questions In The ESL/EFL Classroom

Teaching is not always about instruction giving or providing highly rigid lessons with a pre-defined outcome. From experience, the best lessons are sometimes those which are entirely student-led and without a fixed ending. Asking questions in the classroom allows students to recycle language they know, while also giving them the opportunity to hear new accents, pronunciations from heir fellow students (assuming you are teaching a multi-lingual group).

What to do with conversation question sheets

  • Alternate question answering – print out the conversation sheet and groups students in pairs. Have students ask each other turn by turn.
  • Face to face – print out your conversation sheet and then cut the page in half (horizontally, not vertically) give each half to each student and let them ask each other questions that is on their sheet. Don’t forget to remind students to read out the questions and not let them read the page from each other.
  • Warmer – to get a class topic started the conversation pages can be used to have students think about a subject before going into further detail
  • Presentation warmup – students work in groups and ask each other questions and then collaborate on a group presentation. The questions are simply stimuli for their group work.
  • Conversation pyramid – give a page to each student. Ask them to choose the three most important questions on the page. They then work with another student and compare their choices. They can also attempt to answer the questions.
  • Student mill drill – print out the page but cut out each question so it is a slip of paper. Give each student a single slip of paper with one question and have them walk around the room asking all other students their question. They can either continue to do so or they can swap with another student once they have answered someone’s question.
  • Running dictation – print the page and place it on the wall. Then pair off students and have one write questions and the other to read and communicate the question to the writer. Remember that they cannot shout the questions out.

After using the questions

  • Review the questions and ask students to select their favourites, and why.
  • Ask students to create their own question for the subject.

Using conversation questions in class can really help in building fluency and confidence in your ESL classroom. Give it a try and let us know and how your class went.

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