View Single Post
  #17 (permalink)  
Unread Oct 9th, 2008, 07:19 pm
Eric18's Avatar
Eric18 Eric18 is offline
Compelling Conversations
Join Date: May 24th, 2007
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 165
Eric18 is on a distinguished road
Default Re: Difference between Conversational Classes and General English Classes

Quote EnglishTeacher79 View Post
Hi Eric,

I'm starting to seriously use the book in your class. I hope for some of your input, as well as any ideas by other people.

In your tips and advice section in your Compelling Conversations website, you wrote, "We’ve often found it helpful, especially in the beginning of the semester, for you to role play for the class a question/answer session with a student."

I've already got a pretty good structure on how to start the classes, use the proverbs and quotations and include the vocabulary. However, the main bulk of each chapter is the questions. There are about 40 questions or so in each chapter and I'm trying to find out how best to use them.

You wrote above that it's good to "role play for the class a question/answer session". I'm guessing that "question/answer session" is the main bulk of the conversation class when your students talk to each other. Could you elaborate on this. For example, whether we're using 5 or 10 or all questions, what kind of procedures would you give them and exactly how would your ideal question/answer session look like - that is, how is the role play going to be like that you share with your class going to look like? I'm assuming it's more than, "Class, good through each question (be it 5 or 10, etc) and one person reads out one question and then both answer and work your way through all questions assigned and make sure you spend 3 minutes on each question." So exactly, how would this question/answer session go like? Thanks.

I'm looking forward to your "teacher's guide" and your intermediate conversation book. Any ideas when these would be ready?


First, let me thank you for your questions and apologize for my too-tardy reply.

I model a Q & A session, especially when introducting the book, to demonstrate how to clarify questions, dodge questions, and return questions.

Some useful clarification phrases include:
Can you repeat that?
What do you mean?
Can you rephrase that?

Showing how to dodge, or skip questions is also helpful and sometimes quite fun.
Can we skip that one?
Let's go to the next question.
Next question, please!
Good question, but I'm not answering it. Next!
I don't know. What about you?
I know, but I'm not telling. It's a secret.

While few students will actually choose to skip questions, they like practicing. The ability to say no, and decline a question can feel good.

Likewise, tossing the question back to the questioner keeps the conversation lively. Useful phrases include:

And you?
What about you?
Can I ask you the same question?
Why do you ask?
Do you agree?
Was that what you wanted to hear?
Was that what you expected?
Did I surprise you?

Again, these phrases can be used in a variety of situations. Usually I also show how you can change the order of questions, change the questions, and ask follow-up questions. These model interveiw sessions only last 8-10 minutes.

You can also introduce the assignment by opening with a conversation chain where each student picks one question to ask their neighbor. So student A asks Student B a question, and then Student B replies and asks student C a question. This exercise allows everyone to speak, become more familiar with the questions, and identify vocabulary words that need more explanation.

You also asked about the difference between "sharing memories" and those under "the conversation continues". Actually, we just looked at the exercises and picked the phrase that seemed to fit the topic better. “The conversation continues” exercises, of course, are exclusively for the second set of questions and allow the students to return to the topic and reflect a bit more deeply.

Finally, thank you for your kind inquiry into the teacher’s guide and another conversation book targeted at intermediate students. I’ve fallen behind on those projects, and hope to complete them by the end of the year.

You will hear about them as soon as they are ready.

Your posting has given me a healthy, gentle nudge toward this fine project. Thanks!


"Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity."
Aristotle, 4th Century BCE, Greek philosopher

Last edited by Eric18 : Oct 9th, 2008 at 07:22 pm. Reason: accuracy and clarity!
Reply With Quote