12 conversation strategies worth teaching

One thing my CELTA course skimmed over was how to develop learners’ conversation strategies.

There seems to be a good amount of focus on conversation strategies in recent coursebooks. However, at times I find these can be problematic. Models of effective convo strategies/techniques can be naff sometimes. Where there are no models, and instead there are tip boxes for maybe using a convo strategy during a task, these can lack detail. They require the teacher to elaborate quite a bit. While the teacher notes can help, you might find (as I do on occasions) that there’s a bit of a mismatch. I.e. the language that is anticipated to come up during the task isn’t actually needed/is needed but is already known/needs to be built on. (more…)

Lesson idea: Celebrities, morals and ethics

This is a discussion task to introduce a sequence of lessons on fame and celebrities. One of the set reading texts in the sequence included some comments on celebrity ethics. I thought this was a good springboard, so after a brief chat/some questions about what learners consider to be ‘ethical’ behaviour in the context of celebrities, I gave them these three scenarios to discuss:


IELTS: identifying attitudes and opinions

Another ‘making things up as I go along’. This time in my IELTS Teens class.

Topic: Environment and the natural world

Context: We’d just done some vocabulary review / building activities. We’d also dipped into the book for some listening practice – a few activities on ‘identifying attitudes/opinions’. So, we had tonnes of new vocab, plus loads of phrases in a table like this…

Cue Teacher Pete’s random fluency practice, with the aim(s) of developing students’ ability to…

  • think on their feet
  • see things from different perspectives (whether they agree or not!)
  • justify opinions
  • wake up a bit after coursebook activities


‘so’, ‘such a’, and cheap cocktails

Another one of my ‘making things up as I go along’ reflections. This time, something that actually worked!

The materials from one of our in-house, pre-int lessons the other day reviewed so/such (a) in the context of travel / holidays / hotels, that sort of thing.

The task was ‘describe a place you’ve visited or hotel you’ve stayed in, and shoehorn in some such a nice place/so lovely style phrases’. It was alright. Apart from that none of the students seemed that bothered about each other’s stories, none of them felt much like using a ‘so/such a’ phrase, and none of them really needed to either. But hey, that was the lesson aim, so I kind of had to run with it…

I spent some of the task time listening/assisting/etc, and the rest zoning out thinking ‘if I’m supposed to get learners using this language then I’m failing – so what other tasks have a got up my sleeve?’

I scribbled down (i.e. typed out on the IWB) a dialogue like this…