7 Free ESL Conversation Lesson Plans

Spark Engaging Discussions With These Creative Approaches to Teaching

Teacher and elementary students at whiteboard in classroom

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Teaching ESL students beyond the beginner level requires the gradual insertion of exercises and lessons adapted to students' increasing comprehension. For a teacher, it can be daunting to produce new lesson plans out of thin air, especially when trying to come up with creative ways to teach.

ESL conversation lesson plans can help maintain the structure in a lesson, which can otherwise easily become overly free-form. These popular and free lesson plans offer creative ways to build conversational skills in ESL and EFL Classes. They are appropriate to teach across beginner and advanced level classes. Each lesson includes a short overview, lesson objectives, and outlines and materials that you can copy for in-class use.

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Talking About Friendship

This exercise focuses on what students like best/least about friends. The exercise allows students to practice a number of areas: expressing opinions, comparatives and superlatives, descriptive adjectives, and reported speech. To talk about friendship, students are put into pairs for both the written and verbal components of this exercise. The overall concept of this lesson focused on description can easily be transferred to other subject areas such as holiday choices, choosing a school, prospective careers, etc.

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'Guilty' Classroom Conversation Game

"Guilty" is a fun classroom game that encourages students to communicate using past tenses. It involves asking the student to create alibis to prove their innocence in a crime. The game can be played by all levels and can be monitored for varying degrees of accuracy. "Guilty" gets students interested in detail and can be used as an integrated game during lessons focusing on past forms, or just to have fun while communicating.

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Using a Sentence Auction

Holding "Sentence Auctions" is a fun and less conventional way to help students review key points in grammar and sentence construction. For the game, students in small groups are given some "money" to bid on various sentences. Among these sentences, some are correct and others are incorrect. The group who "buys" the most correct sentences wins the game.

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Subject and Object Questions

These conversation exercises serve the double purpose of having students get to know each other as well as reviewing the basic sentence structures that will be an important component of your course. This spoken exercise can work well as an introductory exercise or as a means of review for lower-intermediate or false beginners.

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National Stereotypes

Young learners—especially teenage learners—are at the point in their lives when they are developing their own ideas about the world around them, especially the world beyond their immediate surroundings. Learning from their elders, media, and teachers, young adults pick up a lot of stereotypes. This exercise helps students come to terms with stereotypes by helping them both recognize the truths in them and understand their reductiveness. While they discuss national stereotypes and perceived differences between nations, students improve their descriptive adjective vocabulary.

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Movies, Films, and Actors

Speaking about films provides an almost endless font of possibilities for conversation. Any class will usually be well-versed in both their own native country's films and the latest and greatest from Hollywood and elsewhere. This subject is especially useful for younger students who might be hesitant to speak about their own lives. This exercise is appropriate for intermediate- to advanced-level students.

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Talking About Then and Now

Getting students to talk about the differences between the past and present is a great way to get them to use a variety of tenses and cement their understanding of the differences and time relationships between the past simple, present perfect (continuous), and present simple tenses. This exercise involves drawing diagrams to support conversation in pairs. It is generally an easy lesson for students to understand and is directed at intermediate and advanced learners.