ESL Conversation Circles Toolkit | (2023)


Queen’s University, International Student Centre


Conversation circles can be challenging. On the one hand, they can be interesting, fun and a wonderful learning experience. However, they can also easily turn into an unnatural, forced and boring conversation. Because there is no pre-set curriculum or a checklist of grammar structures in a conversation circle, some believe that it doesn’t require a lot of preparation. This isn’t true. Even the most experienced facilitators need to prepare a little. The main idea is to care about your group and to be prepared. This toolkit is developed forEnglish Conversation Circles(ECC) volunteer facilitators and offers ideas, resources, helpful tips, session plans and sample activities to make conversation circles a success.

Working with Adult Newcomers

The purpose of ECCs is to support newcomers as they practice and enrich their English language skills in a welcoming and comfortable environment. ECCs are important tools for newcomers to gain more confidence in general communication and to make informed decisions in job search and settlement in their new country. Hence, you will become very important in their lives. You will be faced with the stark reality of newcomers’ lives and the challenges they have to face day by day. Don’t forget that settlement is a very stressful and long process and because of cultural differences what seems perfectly natural to you may not be to the participants, and vice versa. This can lead to misunderstanding and it is important that you know how to address miscommunication in a sensitive and appropriate manner. Because you will be working with adults, some key principles of adult learning will help you shape your attitude, practice and behavior in working with the participants.

Here are some key principles<ref>See Shawn Conway, The E.S.L. Tutor’s Handbook (Toronto: Frontier College Press, 1996)

  • Respecting the experience of adult learners is one of the cornerstones of adult education.
  • Learning is an exchange between adults who trust and respect one another as equals.
  • Learning must be relevant to the learner's life.
  • Adults learn best when they are actively involved in choosing and organizing what they will learn.
  • Adult learners respond to positive reinforcement and a physically and emotionally comfortable environment.
  • Learning begins with attention to the learner’s strengths and successes rather than deficiencies and failures.

Session Planning and Preparation

Funded by:

First off, you need to decide what the participants should learn or practice in each session, in other words, you need to set a focus. Your focus can be one of the five skills development areas:confidence building, improvement of pronunciation and emphasis, vocabulary builders, life skills and gaining cross-cultural competency. Each area also includes several topics. After choosing a skill area you can start with deciding on what kinds of supporting activities will be appropriate for learning on the selected topic as well as for levels of the participants. When preparing for a speaking activity, you should:

  • Discuss the purpose of the activity and introduce any new vocabulary
  • Introduce and review relevant grammar points
  • Discuss any peculiar cultural points relevant to the activity or what the activity is simulating.

The following skills development tables have been adopted from Queen’s University, International Student Centre’s web site resources.

Confidence Building

TopicSample Activities

Small Talk

how to start conversation with strangers

Ask the participants if talking to strangers is common in their culture (when is it okay/what would you talk about?).
Simulate situations in which the participants would engage in small talk.
With the group, come up with a list of topics that would be considered "small talk."
Discuss how small talk is different from other forms of conversation.

Speaking in Public

how to express opinions in class setting

how to explain an idea/a topic

how to find help if needed

Choose a mildly controversial topic (but not something that would offend anyone) and have a mock discussion about it- e.g. violence on television.
Ask the participants to explain something to each other that is important to them or about which they have expertise (it can be a skill, tradition, a cuisine, anything).
Post a picture or series of pictures (from magazines, newspapers etc.) Divide participants into groups and send them to a designated wall to discuss the meaning behind the picture. After designating a certain amount of time, have participant groups report back to the group about the pictures.
Discuss with the group the different ways they can find help if they are lost or having trouble with their landlord.


how to give a seminar presentation

how to explain something in different ways so that other people can understand

Ask participants to write scripts that would teach you a skill, have them read it out loud (word for word) as if they are presenting/teaching you.

Divide participants into groups and ask each group to choose a topic which you must guess, but they can only describe it to you (e.g. topic: Things you do in the morning; Hints; "You get up….., ", "shave" etc.).
Choose a short story suitable for your group’s language level. However, delete/cut the ending of the story. Participants discuss how they think the story ends then present to the group.

Thinking and Speaking Spontaneously

how to engage in a conversation in which justification is needed and arguments/ explanations must be convincing and quick

"Government Priority Activity"- give the participants - or group of participants- cards with different roles of the government on them (e.g. health care, defence, education, welfare, etc.) and ask them to prioritize the roles as if they were the government. Then ask them to explain their reasons for the order of priorities.
Split the group into teams. Each participant must talk about a certain topic for one minute. If they can do this without hesitation, they win a point for their team. If they hesitate, another team can challenge and continue for the rest of the minute. If the challenging team finishes the minute, they get a point. The team with the most points wins.

Improvement of Pronunciation and Emphasis Topic Sample Activities

TopicSample Activities

Pauses & Meanings

speed and rhythm

how different pauses help create meanings

Read an article in the group and ask the participants to identify the pauses.
Give the participants a series of sentences (without punctuations), ask them to read them aloud and explain what the sentences mean, then explore the different ways in which the sentence can be punctuated.
Give a list of "th" and "t" words: tin, thin, tank, thank, taught, thought. Demonstrate correct pronunciation by saying the list out loud for the participants. Practice in sentences containing both sounds. For example: The thin child thanked his grandmother for the tin toys.
From the alphabet, randomly sound out a consonant/ a vowel. Ask the group to guess which letter you are saying.

Reading & Flow
how to read aloud clearly so others can understand
how to identify the intonations in a paragraph

Bring in a short article. Ask the participants to read the article out loud (you may choose to write down words that they have trouble with) and discuss and correct as needed.

Bring in a short article. Ask the participants to read the article out loud (you may choose to write down words that they have trouble with) and discuss and correct as needed.

Vocabulary Builders

TopicSample Activities

General Vocabulary
buildinga larger vocabulary
learning synonyms to avoid repetition and enhance language

"The Dictionary Game". One participant chooses a word from the dictionary and reads the word aloud to the rest of the group. He or she then writes the definition from the dictionary on a slip of paper while everyone else writes down what they think the definition may be. Then mix up all the definitions and have each player draw a slip and read out the definition. Players then try to guess the correct definition after hearing all the slips.

Come up with as many synonyms for adjectives as you can. Then ask the participants to consult a thesaurus to confirm that your list is correct and to expand your list.

Idioms/Slang/Phrasal Verbs
how to incorporate idioms into daily conversations
using phrasal verbs correctly
Write down idioms on slips of paper and ask the participants to draw one out. Ask them to illustrate or describe what the idiom says (i.e. as plain as day, to get along together). Then use it in a sentence and ask them to guess the meaning of the idiom.
Choose a common word (e.g. think) and together brainstorm phrasal verbs that are connected with your word (i.e. think about, think through, think up), and compare their meanings.Look at different uses of the word "get." Look at uses of word "up."
Practicing descriptive abilities
Make up a list of descriptive terms used in varying situations. Then ask the participants to describe and critique a recent experience (film, dinner, holiday etc.) using as mush descriptive language as possible.
Bring a picture or pictures from a magazine or a newspaper and ask the participants to describe what is happening and to discuss the people and places in the picture.

Life Skills

When planning life skills topics, you should consider newcomers’ key survival themes such as health, transportation, housing, family, food and clothing, banking, jobs, house-hunting, telephone, education and citizenship and government issues. These themes relate to various situations such as taking phone messages, arranging appointments, dealing with emergencies, looking for a job, applying for a job, using transportation, dealing with merchants and looking after housing needs. The examples are endless. Hence, the following table includes only few selected samples.

TopicSample Activities

where to find job openings and how to apply
typical components of a resume
how to prepare for an interview
where to get help

Find a mock resume and discuss the different components of a typical Canadian resume with the group. How is it different from the resumes the participants are used to writing? What components are excluded and included?

Introduce job searching tools to class such as Career Directory, list of online sources and a few job ads. Brainstorm where to find job ads and other alternative job searching techniques. Discuss job ads together (what are the skills required?).

Discuss the purpose of a cover letter. Come up with questions that an employer may ask in an interview. Simulate the interview and discuss.


how to seek medical attention
what vocabulary to use when seeing a doctor
who to go see if there are special needs

Ask the participants to describe the medical system in their home countries (i.e. how does one make an appointment to see the doctor? How much would it cost? Where would one get medication? ). How is this system different from the Canadian system?
Create a list of ailments (i.e. coughing, sneezing, sinus congestion, headache, dislocated ankle, etc.) and define these symptoms. This will equip the participants with a vocabulary that would be useful when seeing a doctor.
Prepare a list of specialists’ titles and ask the participants to guess at what they do. Discuss the answers. (A list of common specialists may include chiropodist, paediatrician, gynaecologist, obstetrician, neurologist, urologist, orthodontist, anaesthesiologist, internist, orthopaedist, plastic surgeon, etc.)
Different telephone etiquettes
How to leave voice messages on the telephone
Using the phone book
Simulate situations in which a participant has dialed the wrong phone number (you are the person who answered the phone call). Discuss how he or she might handle the situation and how the person who received the call (you) might react. Then simulate situations in which you are the caller.
Prepare scenarios in which the participants might have to leave you a message on the phone (she is ill and cannot meet). Rehearse what the message may sound like and the essential information they should leave.
Simulate a telephone conversation that may take place if someone is trying to order food over the telephone. You will be the one taking the order. You may want to distribute pamphlets of restaurants or pizza places, etc., before you begin. Ask the participants to decide on what they would order and don’t forget to ask them for all the necessary information such as address, phone number, details of order.

Gaining Cross-Cultural Competency

TopicSample Activities

Sharing Cultural Backgrounds, Beliefs and Preferences

looking at similarities/differences between home country and Canada
facilitate understanding of different cultural practices, attitudes and concerns through conversation
looking at rights and responsibilities
folklores, fables, superstitions

What do the participants think is better or worse in Canada compared to their home countries (you might want to give some pointers such as weather, food, travel, education, etc.)
Consider the list of traits below. Ask the participants to consider the five most important when they are choosing (1) a friend, (2) a friend of the opposite sex, and (3) your future partner or husband/wife? Discuss the expectations and differences in opinions:
A good conversationalistTrustworthy
Respects other peopleWorks hard
Has my parents’ approvalLikes to do the things I do
Well educatedHas a good job/income
PolitePhysically attractive
Ask the participants what kind of rights they have as citizens of their home countries. Is there a charter of rights and freedoms? What is the most important right that a citizen possesses?
Ask the participants to tell the class about the different fables/fairy tales they read in their childhood. There are many variations on the classic fairy tales (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, etc.) Talk about the differences and tell them about the versions popular in Canada.
Tell the participants about the different superstitions that Canadians typically believe in (i.e. broken mirror, throwing salt over your shoulder, the number 13, etc.) Discuss the superstitions that the participants believe in.
What different holidays are celebrated in Canada?
How do people celebrate holidays in Canada?
What happens during certain holidays (i.e. what businesses/services are closed?)
Give blank calendars to the participants and ask them to circle all the dates (in the year) where they would celebrate a holiday in one colour, have them circle all the Canadian holidays they know of in another colour; compare the holidays circled: how many dates are overlapped? What are the different celebrations that take place? What is the significance behind them?

Write down, on slips of paper, the different ways people typically celebrate each holiday in Canada. Have the participants draw them out and match it to the holidays they observe. Here is a list of holidays:

New Year’s EveCivic Holiday
New Year’s DayLabour Day
Valentine’s DayRosh Hashanah
St. Patrick’s DayYom Kippur
April Fool’s DayColombus Day
EasterThanksgiving Day
RamadanChristmas Day
Victoria dayRemembrance Day
Boxing DayCanada Day
St. Jean Baptiste DayMother’s Day
Father’s DayOthers

The Dos and Don’ts of Conversation


Always keep broad goals in mind. It is easy for you or the participants to become preoccupied with smaller details of English and to lose sight of the main goals of the sessions. When you get sidetracked or when you lose your focus, think of the big picture.

  • Use your imagination and experiment. There is no single curriculum that will suit all the participants. So you will have to learn through trial and error no matter how many books you consult.
  • Provide suggestions and resources that will assist the participants to improve their English language skills.
  • If concerned about shy or overpowering participants in a group, assign each participant certain key points to discuss. Alternatively, you could establish a turn taking system.
  • Provide continual encouragement and constructive feedback that will encourage the participants to use English in everyday life.
  • Include participants as much as possible when planning future conversation activities.
  • Be patient with yourself and the participants.
  • Trust yourself and your common sense.
  • Be positive, attentive and easy going.


  • Do not introduce a conversation activity that requires a higher level of vocabulary that most of the participants are not comfortable with.
  • Do not interrupt participants mid-conversation. Even though you may hear mistakes, let them speak freely. Just make note of mistakes to discuss later. You could alter the errors in such a way that do not identify particular participants.
  • Do not assume that you have to be a grammarian or linguist.
  • Avoid sensitive subjects about participants’ culture, religion, race and political views. Although some of the participants may seem open, you cannot guarantee that you won’t possibly offend other participants or make them feel uncomfortable..

Discussing Cultural Diversity

Cultural difference is an extremely complex and sometimes highly personal and emotive subject. When facilitators bring this issue into their sessions, they can easily create as many problems as they solve. You may find the following "core values" and "guidelines" sections useful when dealing with cultural diversity.

Core Values

  • A positive, constructive and optimistic approach to differences.
  • Commitment to relationship, mutual respect and integrity.
  • Tolerance, openness and flexibility.
  • Belief in the uniqueness of individuals, their strengths and capability to achieve their goals.
  • Attention to principles of cross-cultural communication.


  • Link the question of cultural differences to the main themes of your sessions: small talk, presentations, vocabulary building, life skills, etc.
  • Emphasize how differences can complement and benefit each other and don’t single out particular groups.
  • Focus on positives, such as the benefits of cultural differences rather than negatives such as racism and prejudice.
  • Accommodate points of view of others and explain your own in an appropriate manner.
  • Beware of your body language and non-verbal cues.
  • Given the informal nature of ECCs, expect the participants to ask you questions about Canada. Try to answer all questions the best you can.
  • Set personal boundaries with the participants and respect those boundaries.

Potential Conversation Topics

  • Canadian culture/climate/landmarks/traditions/heritage
  • Career choices/job searching/employment
  • Childhood memories/experiences/education
  • Computers/technology/space
  • Cultural norms/social conventions
  • Current events/news
  • Daily problems
  • Dreams
  • Family/traditions/homesickness
  • Globalization
  • Government
  • Have you ever…..?
  • Health/medicine
  • History
  • Hobbies/interests
  • Holidays
  • House-hunting
  • If you were……
  • Industry/agriculture
  • Literature/comics/magazines
  • Local history/attractions
  • Manners/etiquettes
  • Movies/music/TV shows/pop culture
  • Natural disasters
  • Nature/environment/animals
  • Nightlife
  • Seasonal topics/activities associated with different times in the year
  • Shopping/dining/sales
  • Sports/recreation
  • Stories/jokes/fables
  • Superstitions/home remedies
  • The arts (paintings, sculptures, museums, galleries etc.)
  • Travel/transportation
  • Vacations
  • Volunteering/charity
  • Who is the greatest….?
  • Would you ever……?

Sample Session Plan and Useful On-line Resources for ESL Conversation Learners and Facilitators

Small Talk- Session Plan<ref>By Kenneth Beare, About. Com Guide</ref>

Aim: Improving 'small talk' skills

Activity: Discussion of appropriate small talk subjects followed by a game to be played in small groups>Level: Intermediate to Advanced


  • Write "Small Talk" on the board (if there is one). Ask the participants to brainstorm as a class to define small talk.
  • Discuss the importance of small talk skills with the participants.
  • Divide participants into groups of 3-5.
  • Give participants the small talk work sheet. Ask them to complete the first section:Small Talk- Appropriate?
  • Once participants have discussed the various situations, solicit responses on the various subjects from the group as a whole. Feel free to let participants debate the issue.
  • Have participants get back into their groups and play the small talk game. Circulate around the room helping the participants when they run into difficulties.
  • Take notes on subjects that participants find difficult and brainstorm on appropriate comments for those subjects after the game has finished.

Small Talk- Appropriate?

Which topics are appropriate for small talk discussions? For those topics which are appropriate, think of one interesting comment to make when the teacher calls on you. For those topics which are not appropriate, be able to explain why they are not appropriate for small talk.

  • The latest films
  • The One True Path to Eternal Life
  • The local basketball team
  • Cars
  • A product you would like sell to everyone
  • The Death Penalty
  • Your home town
  • How much you make
  • Your last holiday
  • Your favorite movie-star
  • The correct political party
  • The weather
  • Gardening
  • Your health problems
  • Your family
Name/URL AddressUseful Activities
English Daily

common mistakes in English, conversation, idioms, proverbs, English Comprehension, exercises, etc.
English Learning Fun

visit guest section

"humour me"- English jokes

"mouth manglers"- tongue twisters with similar consonant sounds

"say what"- listening activities

"movie talk"- many interactive activities involving movie stars


links to various categories

"conversation &pronunciation"-different activities "idioms"- quizzes "dictionaries"- different types of words/phrases arranged in alphabetical order

many ideas on group activities

most activities suitable for large classes but may be adapted for smaller groups and pairs ESL Lesson Plans

activities for all ESL levels and for different skills

ESL games and classroom activities

Dave’s ESL Café

"hint of the day"- very useful information

comprehensive list of phrasal verbs, their usages and definitions "idea cookbook"- great resource for teachers extensive list of idioms "quotes"- always fun & something to talk about- good for discussion and conversation

ESL Party Land

sample lesson plans

conversation questions quizzes and games

ESL Games, Quizzes and Activities

different games quizzes for different topics
The Internet TESL Journal

conversation topics, questions and lesson plans

games and activities tips for teachers


conversation topics, questions and lesson plans
Resouce Categories

Language Training


How do you run an ESL conversation circle? ›

  1. Write "Small Talk" on the board (if there is one). ...
  2. Discuss the importance of small talk skills with the participants.
  3. Divide participants into groups of 3-5.
  4. Give participants the small talk work sheet.

How do you facilitate a conversation circle? ›

The process is simple: a token, traditionally a feather or talking stick, is passed clockwise from participant to participant. Upon receiving the token, the participant speaks freely, openly, and honestly, addressing the topic at hand or responding to something someone else said.

How do you start a conversation in ESL lessons? ›

Starting a Conversation
  1. Listen to the Entire Lesson.
  2. "The weather is so nice today. Are you from around here?"
  3. "How is your day going so far?"
  4. "There are a lot of people out here today. Is this normal?"
  5. "Are you here with your family?"
  6. "Are you on vacation?"
  7. "Are those your kids? ...
  8. "What kind of dog is that?"

What are the guidelines for a talking circle? ›

The talking piece is passed clockwise around the circle with each participant having a turn to share their authentic personal stories and have them respectfully heard and acknowledged without judgment, condemnation, nor advice (unless advice is solicited).

How do you structure an English conversation class? ›

Follow the guidelines below to deliver a stand-out conversational class that helps each learner grow.
  1. Prepare questions. ...
  2. Set expectations for your discussion. ...
  3. Talk naturally. ...
  4. Let students guide your topics. ...
  5. Write out words when necessary.

How do you implement talking circles in the classroom? ›

The Talking Circle Process

Begin by gathering in a circle and creating norms that will help build trust in the space. In my class, we write our norms on a poster board placed in the center of our Circle. A talking piece, an object of significance chosen by Circle members, is passed around inviting equal participation.

How do you start a conversation activity? ›

  1. Greet the person. Say, "Hi" or "How are you?" the first time you seem them during the day.
  2. Ask questions about what they are doing in the PRESENT SITUATION. ...
  3. Ask Questions about the PAST. ...
  4. Questions about the FUTURE. ...
  5. Ask about one of THEIR INTERESTS. ...
  6. Remember to ask follow up questions and make on-topic comments.

How do you close a talking circle? ›

For closing circle the process is: Circle keeper will remind participants of the role of the talking piece and the significance of the particular talking piece being used. Introduce closing reflection question – e.g. What has moved you in our time together? What are you taking home from this gathering?

How can I help my ESL students speak better? ›

Six Effective Speaking Strategies for English Learners in Virtual...
  1. Cultivate Relationships and be Culturally Responsive.
  2. Provide comprehensible input for English Learners.
  3. Emphasize Academic Language Production.
  4. Picture it.
  5. Use Sentence Frames.
  6. References.

How can I get my ESL students to talk more? ›

How to get ESL Students to Speak More
  1. Reduce teacher talking time. Teachers are a talkative bunch, we get it. ...
  2. Create a safe environment. Expressing yourself in a new language can be scary! ...
  3. Make it fun! ...
  4. Focus on their interests. ...
  5. Ask questions. ...
  6. Don't put them on the spot. ...
  7. Let them correct you. ...
  8. Always be speaking!
Nov 18, 2021

How can I improve my conversation skills in ESL? ›

How to improve your spoken English: 8 tips
  1. Speak, speak, speak. Let's start right off by saying that there isn't a magic pill for better speaking. ...
  2. Reflect on your conversations. ...
  3. Listen and read. ...
  4. Prepare cheat sheets. ...
  5. Pick up the phone. ...
  6. Record your voice. ...
  7. Learn phrases rather than single words. ...
  8. Have fun.

What is a good ESL teacher introduction? ›

Your basic information. Your full name, nationality, educational background, and TEFL certifications are some of the most important details you should mention in your introduction video. You can also add something interesting about yourself, like your hobbies or interests.

What is the first thing to teach ESL students? ›

Start by teaching your students the fundamentals, like numbers and the alphabet. Build on those skills with phonics, parts of speech, and basic grammatical skills. Create a productive learning environment by speaking to your students in simple language, like “Repeat after me” or “Finish this sentence.”

What are the 3 types of talking circles? ›

Talking Circles Explanation

There are different types of discussion circles, such as Talking Circle, Sharing Circles, or Healing Circles, and the protocols for usage depend on the purpose. The term Talking Circle is sometimes used interchangeably with Sharing Circle.

What are healing circles? ›

Healing circles are often called hocokah in the Lakota language, which means a sacred circle and is also the word for altar. The hocokah consists of people who sit together in a talking circle, in prayer, in ceremony, and are committed to helping one another and to each other's healing.

What is the format of a listening circle? ›

The format is simple. Position students in a circle (or, if your gathering is virtual, post a list of participants that will constitute your circle). Each person in the circle has one to five minutes to say whatever is on their minds about events of the day.

How do you teach conversational skills? ›

You can help children develop conversation skills by talking and listening with them every day. Role-modelling, prompting, guiding and practising help children learn conversation skills. Rules about polite conversations and consequences for rudeness can help you manage interrupting and talking back.

What is the learning circle technique? ›

A Learning Circle is a group of individuals with a common interest who meet regularly to learn from each other, and others, about a self-identified topic and in a format the group has decided upon. Learning Circles are flexible, peer-directed learning experiences.

What are the 6 classroom activities that teachers could use in order to improve their speaking skills? ›

Try these and see which ones work best for your students!
  • Encourage conversation. ...
  • Model syntactic structure. ...
  • Maintain eye contact. ...
  • Remind students to speak loudly and articulate clearly. ...
  • Have students summarize heard information. ...
  • Model and guide sentence construction. ...
  • Explain the subtleties of tone.
Jan 23, 2018

What are 3 ways to start a conversation? ›

Conversation Starters for Any Situation
  • Tell me about you. ...
  • Working on anything exciting lately? ...
  • What's your story? ...
  • What personal passion project are you working on right now? ...
  • How do you know the host? ...
  • What was the highlight of your day today? ...
  • What was the highlight of your week?

What are simple conversation starters? ›

Conversation Topics That Will Work Anywhere
  • Tell me about yourself. ...
  • What's been the best part of your day so far? ...
  • What do you do to relax? ...
  • What book are you reading right now? ...
  • What's your favorite thing about your hometown? ...
  • What's the last thing you bought online that you really loved?

What is a nice conversation starter? ›

General Conversation Starters. What's the most interesting thing you've read lately? What's a fact about you that's not on the internet? Do you listen to any podcasts?

What is an English conversation circle? ›

Conversation Circles are informal gatherings where people come together to practice speaking English. They are an excellent way to practice your English in a variety of situations while networking in the community.

Why do conversations go in circles? ›

Conversations often go in circles when everyone is advocating their own opinion. The catch? Most of the time, people don't know what it is they are disagreeing on! There's usually a misunderstanding somewhere, but everyone has assumed that the misunderstanding is actually a difference of opinion.

What do ESL students struggle with the most? ›

Here are some of the most common challenges ESL learners face and how to overcome them:
  1. Having No Objective When Learning a Language. The biggest challenge lies here. ...
  2. Having Unfit Teachers. ...
  3. Not Having Enough Confidence. ...
  4. Time Limitations. ...
  5. Not Having the Opportunity to Practice With Natives.
May 19, 2022

How do you deal with rude ESL students? ›

If there is disruptive behavior, stop it immediately! Call the student out on their behavior. Ask them to be quiet so that you can continue with the class. If they continue, you can ask them to leave the class or wait and speak with them after the class is over.

How do you deal with difficult students in ESL? ›

Don't feed into the cycle and don't wait for the student to misbehave. Instead, create early opportunities to give the student positive attention. In addition, temporarily give the student extra eye contact, smiles, and chances to participate in class.

Why do ESL students struggle? ›

Due to language barriers and unfamiliarity of cultural norms such as bus schedules and pick-up locations or train and subway routes, an English language learner can find it difficult to make time for education and language learning.

Why do ESL students struggle in school? ›

In an ideal world, every student would be getting the same amount of attention from their teachers and progressing at more-or-less at the same pace. Unfortunately, the combination of a crowded classroom, an unoptimized curriculum, and the language barrier often makes it difficult for ELLs to keep up.

What is the best way to increase retention ESL? ›

By asking questions that require deep thought rather than a rote answer, you can encourage your students to participate on a deeper level. Another way to increase retention is to encourage group work. As students work tighter in groups, they use English to achieve a common goal.

What are 5 ways to improve your speaking skills? ›

18 October 2021 - 5:58pm
  1. Listen. The first step in improving your speaking skills is actually working on your listening. ...
  2. Imitate. Now that you have listened to lots of English conversations, it's time for some imitation. ...
  3. Read. ...
  4. Reflect. ...
  5. Prepare. ...
  6. Speak. ...
  7. Practise.
Oct 18, 2021

How can I be a better conversational speaker? ›

Show your appreciation.
  1. Start with small talk. Conversational skills are acquired first through simple, surface-level conversation. ...
  2. Introduce yourself. ...
  3. Find common ground. ...
  4. Ask open-ended questions. ...
  5. Focus on your conversation partner. ...
  6. Show your appreciation.
Sep 30, 2022

What is the most common teaching method in ESL? ›

Communicative language teaching is perhaps the most popular approach among the methods of teaching ESL today. CLT emphasizes the students' ability to communicate in real-life contexts, and students learn to make requests, accept offers, explain things, and express their feelings and preferences.

What makes a successful ESL lesson? ›

Having a clear objective is the most important element to consider when developing an ESL lesson plan. Having a clear objective is the first building block for the planning and development process. It's the thing (or things) that you want your students to learn and take-away from the lesson.

What makes you a high quality ESL teacher? ›

A good ESL teacher should be able to relate freely with the students, should be lively, active, positive and have a welcoming attitude towards the students. This will foster a good learning atmosphere in the classroom. A good ESL teacher must also be good at expressing ideas, values and beliefs about teaching.

How do I make my ESL class interesting? ›

Here's how to make learning English fun for your students:
  1. Get to know your student. Set a target or a goal. ...
  2. Make the lesson interactive by using props and telling stories.
  3. Be mindful of body language and play with the tone of your voice.
  4. Reward the student and play games.
  5. Don't take it so seriously. Have fun!
Jun 3, 2020

What makes you qualified as an ESL teacher? ›

Earn a bachelor's degree in ESL or TESOL or a related subject, such as linguistics. Complete a student teaching internship in an ESL setting as part of your program. Take your state's tests for teacher licensure with an endorsement in ESL. Apply for your teaching license.

What are the 5 stages of ESL? ›

Students learning a second language move through five predictable stages: Preproduction, Early Production, Speech Emergence, Intermediate Fluency, and Advanced Fluency (Krashen & Terrell, 1983).

What are the stages of an ESL lesson? ›

For starters, every lesson, regardless of the topic, should be broken into three main stages. Referred to as the PPP methodology, you will follow this simple framework: presentation, production, and practice. These three stages will help students absorb content and the practice will help in effective learning.

How to teach English to ESL beginners? ›

Here are 6 steps to teach English to beginners like a pro!
  1. Keep it simple, stupid. This is the one of the most important steps to teach English to beginners. ...
  2. Always check for understanding. ...
  3. Give them lots of time to practice. ...
  4. Show, don't tell. ...
  5. Always use positive reinforcement. ...
  6. Don't be boring.
Dec 15, 2022

How do you continue a conversation in ESL? ›

3 Keys to Continuing a Conversation in English
  1. Ask questions that start with Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. Try to avoid yes/no questions.
  2. In each of your answers, give one or two details that will help continue the conversation. You don't need to talk for a long time.
  3. Talk about these topics: Family.

How do you introduce circles to students? ›

Inform the students that circles, like wheels, are round shapes. Reinforce the definition of round by making a circle with your hand. Ask the students to make a circle with their hands.

How can I make ESL lessons more fun? ›

Here's how to make learning English fun for your students:
  1. Get to know your student. Set a target or a goal. ...
  2. Make the lesson interactive by using props and telling stories.
  3. Be mindful of body language and play with the tone of your voice.
  4. Reward the student and play games.
  5. Don't take it so seriously. Have fun!
Jun 3, 2020

How do I make my ESL class more engaging? ›

17 Fun and Creative Ways To Make ESL Lessons Interesting
  1. Use Real Life Stories For ESL. ...
  2. What Happens Next? ...
  3. ESL Grammar Auctions. ...
  4. ESL Online Games. ...
  5. Teach English/ESL With Songs. ...
  6. Throw The Seating Plan Out The Window! ...
  7. ESL Movie Review Challenge. ...
  8. ESL Realia Teaching Strategies.

Which method is best to teaching circle? ›

Thus, it is concluded that the best appropriate method for teaching the area of a circle is Laboratory method.

How to make a Socratic circle? ›

Students sit in a circle so that all members can see and respond to each other. The open-ended question is restated. Using their notes as support, students enter the discussion responding to the initial question. Students enter the conversation using the sentence starters as a guide.

How do you make restorative circles fun? ›

It is important that students understand that circles are not only for problem solving, they can also be a time to have fun and energize.
  1. I Love Game. ...
  2. Mix it Up! ...
  3. Twenty Questions Game. ...
  4. Eye Nod Game. ...
  6. Pass the Ball. ...
  7. Follow the Leader. ...
  8. Fortunately/Unfortunately.

What is an English conversation club? ›

What is a Conversation Club? A Conversation Club is one of the best ways to improve spoken English. English clubs allow English language learners to practice speaking in an informal, relaxed environment. English speaking clubs primarily help participants improve 2 skills – speaking and listening.

What are the benefits of conversation circles? ›

The talking circle prevents reactive communication and directly responsive communication, and it fosters deeper listening and reflection in conversation.

What are the types of English conversation? ›

The Four Types of Conversations: Debate, Dialogue, Discourse, and Diatribe.


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