Need a fresh inspiration?
This book of topics is a quick and easy source.
A video review of Conversation Inspirations from EveryDayELL.
The author's experiences as an ESL teacher and as a lawyer working in Los Angeles have given her a clear sense of what immigrants and international students want and need to talk about.
Conversation Inspirations has been used all over the world. The more than 2400 topics range all the way from the universal - human nature and interpersonal relationships - to the culturally vital - cutting edge issues in North American society and how people from other cultures feel about them and deal with them.
Whether you want to choose topics for your class that are fun or provocative, that build an understanding of U. S. culture in today's world, or that help them with their personal adjustment, you'll find this book invaluable.
For this new, third edition, many of the topics have been revised and updated. The book is in a larger format with larger type to make it easier to photocopy and read.
How does the book work? Photocopy a page or two. Choose 3 to 5 topics to offer your students. Cut them out and paste them on index cards. Then let your students choose what inspires them. Giving them a choice motivates them to talk. For a fun variation, have small groups of students draw topics out of a hat.
The author explains 8 different conversation activities: talks, interviews, role plays, chain stories and other group activities, and discussions. Procedures for each activity are clearly laid out.
The procedures include the use of topic cards, monitoring, and correction techniques, and a variety of game rituals that make each conversation class effective as well as enjoyable.
Procedure for Monitored Conversation viii
Mistake/Correction Cards ix
Mistake Correction x
Mistake Card Fun: 3 Card Games xi
How to Prepare Topic Cards xii
Role Plays 1
Procedures for Role Plays 2
Cultural Misunderstandings 11
Directions (Getting) 18
Directions (Giving) 19
Famous People 24
Jobs (Getting a Job) 32
Jobs (On the Job) 34
Parent-Child Interactions 35
School (Student's View) 44
School (Teacher's View) 45
Thank You and Farewell 52
Procedures for Interviews 57
The Arts 58
The Environment 59
Foreign Countries and Foreign Languages 61
Interviewing for a Job 64
Law and Justice 65
Men, Women, and Relationships 67
Native Country 70
Personal Data 72
Personal Values 73
Personal Experience 74
What If? 80
Procedures for Talks 83
Hopes and Fears for the Future 85
Personal Experiences 86
Time Travel: Twenty-Five Years from Now 88
Truth or Lies 89
Group Creativity 91
Procedures for Proverbs and Superstitions 92
Procedures for Chain Stories 97
Chain Stories 98
Procedures for Find Out 100
Find Out 101
Procedures for Get Your Partner 102
Get Your Partner 103
Procedures for Discussions 105
Philosophical Issues 108
Social Issues 109
World Issues 111
Resources for Developing Conversation Skills 113
The primary focus of this book is to promote conversational fluency for all students studying English. However, Conversation Inspirations can be used in many other situations where the primary focus is on facilitating language acquisition or understanding modern American culture. It may also be adapted for teaching other languages. This can raise interesting cultural issues; therefore, you should think about these before assigning a topic. You will also find that these topics easily lend themselves to writing assignments. After role plays, for example, you can have your students write a dialogue. When using discussion topics, you can have students write essays. The possibilities are endless.
Grouped into five kinds of conversational activities, Conversation Inspirations is a collection of overt 2,400 topics. For each activity there is a description of suggested procedures for the teacher.
A very effective way of using the topics listed in this book is to write them on 3 X 5 index cards and then give the cards to the students to hold and refer to as they engage in the activity. This very simple device not only creates the effect of playing a kind of card game, it also allows the teacher to build a collection of cards that can be used over and over. The cards can be retained after each activity and stored in a small file box for future use.
Although you may choose to use and store these cards in different ways, their day-to-day use can be facilitated by following the simple classification system presented in the book. The book then becomes a quick and easy index to what is contained in the file box. Each section is coded according to the name of the activity, and the topical area. Thus, R-ad means role play (activity) advice (topic area). The code is given after each topic - see page xii for further explanation of the code system.
The number of topics presented in this book is finite, but it is obvious that the potential list is endless. Many of the topics can be modified by switching the characters. For example, "Ask your roommate" can be changed to "Ask your friend" or "Ask your child." The gender pronouns are also interchangeable. In the text, there are approximately as many masculine pronouns as feminine in an attempt to distribute them evenly. Most topics can be adapted to fit either gender. Additionally, topics listed under one activity, such as "Interviews," may be used in another kind of activity, for example, in "Discussions." You are limited only by your ingenuity.
These topics can be used in a variety of ways, from totally free conversation to carefully monitored conversation. The general procedure and mistake correction techniques outlined in the next few pages will help your students increase their cultural awareness and social skills as well as the accuracy of their spoken English.