English as a Second Language (ESL) instructors teach reading and writing in English; however, teaching effective communication skills is also an important objective. Teaching students to carry out conversations about topics relating to everyday life will help them gain a better grasp of the English language, develop new relationships and have a better understanding of the world around them.


Ask the students to read a paragraph regarding an everyday topic and then have them discuss the ideas in teams of two or hold a group discussion. Your teaching objectives are to assist them to develop critical thinking skills, predict outcomes, understand cause and effect, make comparisons and enable them to hypothesize. For example, you might have them read a paragraph about surfing the Internet, then discuss the pros and cons of Internet use. Ask them to locate specific websites such as a good online dictionary and thesaurus.

Combine a conversational topic with a vocabulary lesson. Allow the students to choose a topic of interest to them from a list of six or seven general subjects and then provide them with corresponding nouns, verbs, adverbs and terms to use in a conversation regarding that topic. Choose universal topics such as food and ask the students to discuss cooking, their favorite food, or to role-play ordering food from a menu at a restaurant. Other suggested topics include the weather, sports, animals and love and relationships.


An effective and fun way to teach adult students English is to have them role-play various roles in the community in teams of two. Allow them to choose the characters they wish to play. Some suggestions include a police officer giving a parking ticket, buying a specific item at a store or a visit to the doctor or dentist. Have the students exchange roles so each gets to role-play a conversation in the community twice.

Intermediate Conversation

Give small groups of students a specific scenario involving a problem they must solve together. One task could be to make a list of items they would need for survival, if lost in the woods. Once they have made a list, they will need to explain how to use the items to survive or successfully make it out of the woods.

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