I write a lot of goofy stories on my blog.
I use these topics in my English conversation classes.
I always try to incorporate some frank discussion into each session.
If I can work some humor in as well, that’s even better.
I don’t use a structured format or required vocabulary words in this segment.
I want a genuine conversation that friends might have.
This is a real exercise in fluency.
I might ask them what kind of movies they like to watch.
But I don’t ask it interview style, where, one at a time, they say, “I like action movies,” and “I like romantic movies.”
I might open the discussion by telling my students that I don’t like horror movies. They scare me, and they give me nightmares. I will ask them if horror movies scare them too. There are no right or wrong answers. It’s simply a discussion about our opinions and experiences with this topic. That’s the start of a REAL conversation.
I encourage all kinds of absurd themes.
When your child loses their shoes.
Stepping on a Lego.
The neighbor’s noisy dog.
My students tell me, as they progress in their language studies, that they are becoming competent in handling their daily business affairs in English.
But they have trouble making friends.
This is why I try to incorporate a “friendly” conversation segment into each class.
Spilling your drink.
Foods you don’t care for.
When bad traffic makes you late.
Keeping your feet warm on a cold day.
I don’t correct them during this segment.
The point is to connect.
We do need structure in language learning.
We have to study reading, writing, spelling, punctuation, grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation.
It’s the foundation of the language.
But at some point, we have to let go of the rules in order to actually connect with other people.
I think that connection is a forgotten element in language education.
This is why so many people who study a foreign language can’t actually speak it.
For my very beginning students who might find this conversation segment to be overwhelming, I have a few standard questions that always gets them talking.
One topic is for them to tell us about their family members.
One man was very nervous, once, struggling to find the right words.
He told me, with much hesitation, that he has three small sons.
I told him that I have two sons, so I know that his house must be very noisy.
He burst out laughing, agreed with me, and we have been fast friends ever since.
We need to incorporate more connection into our language curriculum.
Connection is the bridge between language foundation and language fluency.