A short blog with activities on stimulating conversation for beginners. Novice language learners need lots of speaking practise to gain confidence and fluency. Here are some A1 speaking activities to get your beginners talking in your English classes.
A teacher wrote to me with the following question: How can I get my A1 students involved in a conversation activity? Mostly, they seem to need private classes to review their basic knowledge of English? My French students’ level of English is far lower than it should be for their age. And what’s more, they don’t even like the subject. It’s quite demoralizing!
Here is my reply: I know what you mean about the average French student’s level of English. Often, students can barely say one sentence, despite having spent years in English lessons. I partly blame the textbook focused teaching and the fact that teachers never have students practise in pairs or groups.
Conversation for beginners – A1 & Novice
Use my skits for children or for teens. These are perfect for going over the basics while performing short conversations. To prepare, use games to drill vocabulary and grammar, the building blocks of language. For example, drill conversation questions using Battleships and Find the Pairs and put students in pairs so they get lots of practise. In addition, use fluency games and task-based learning to practise. Favour pair and group work over passive textbook activities.
Along with the skits I would spend ten minutes on quiz questions and answers, and continue with this throughout the term. You’ll find lots on quizzes in the teen-adult games book. Q and A quiz questions are interesting as students learn fun or useful stuff, as well as vocabulary and grammar. Include basic conversation questions in the quiz because Q&A are the building blocks of basic conversations. In addition, you can adapt games like Blow your house down using conversation extracts.
Finally, spend 50 minutes of any hour-long lesson on speaking and listening skills and leave writing for homework. Teachers who have students sitting obediently in front of a textbook while they talk won’t get good results when it comes to conversation!
Here are some extra thoughts on teaching methodology: