Great resources for Conversation Classes


Here’s a menu of lesson ideas, lesson plans, warmers, fillers, prompts, and more for EFL / ESL CONVERSATION CLASSES.



Retelling very funny ads – I started the workshop with teachers doing this amazing activity designed by Ian James (@ij64). It’s a video activity with funny adverts that will really get your students talking, and then with the help of the worksheet they’ll discuss questions that promote some critical thinking and cross-cultural comparisons.

Movie segments to assess grammar goals by Claudio Azevedo is already a classic, not only for interesting grammar-driven lessons but also for conversation-driven lessons.

Step-by-step telephoning – Very good idea by Alex Case. I especially liked it because it is suitable for lower levels and it has an interesting approach to repetition.

Dealing with enquiries – Same as above


Main course

Analysis of an Issue – I already recommended this in the #ELTbites post. It works well because instead of asking a “What do you think about…?” kind of question, it gives a statement and asks students to share their experience and observations, as well as prior reading and relevant facts in order to position themselves in a ‘to what extent do you agree/disagree’ discussion.

Debate and discussion is a blog by the ever prolific Phil Wade (@phil3wade), who also directed me to some of the other resources listed here. offers multi-skills lesson plans built on video clips, but I often use Kieran Donaghy’s (@kierandonaghy) excellent findings and ideas to trigger conversation more than anything.

Debates and role-play – Some controversial topics here to be discussed in Student A x Student B format.


Ken Wilson’s dropbox – There are great ‘let’s learn with some fun’ downloadable lessons in Ken’s dropbox on the right-hand side of his blog. My favorite is one activity that remarkably makes repetitive practice of “What’s your name?” and “Where are you from?” actually engaging.

52: a year of subversive activities If you and your students are tired of the ultra politically correct position of ELT published materials, this book is for you. It’s actually an e-book, but don’t worry if you don’t have an e-book reader or an iPad because you can easily download the Amazon Kindle app to your good old computer and read the book there, that’s what I did.

Teaching Unplugged – If 52 is the Nevermind the Bollocks of ELT, Teaching Unplugged is Sgt Pepper. See what I mean?


Here’s where your comment comes in. Any suggestions?

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3 Responses to Great resources for Conversation Classes

  1. Ann Foreman says:

    Thanks, Willy, that’s a great set of resources and not only for teachers with conversation classes!



  2. sulaiman alzu'bi says:

    thank you so much
    lecturer of English language in Saudi Arabia

  3. phil3wade says:

    Nice post Willy. It’s nice to see that speaking doesn’t have to be a snack or a time filler or just a 2 minute free speaking activity stuck onto the end of a class. In fact, it should be the heart of the lesson. We all go on and on about the communicative approach and learner-centredness but are we really adopting these ideas and making them part of our classes or just name dropping lingo?

    Then there’s the infamous ‘pair check’ which makes many feel that their reading/listening tasks have some communication in them, or the infamous ‘warmer’ of questions which have no value at all except to ‘activate schemata’. Well, no. If I ask a question it’s because I am interested in getting an answer and that answer and the path it leads us may mean I have to scrap my next exercise/activity but good/ Rather that then “well, you talked about how the death penalty has reduced corruption in your country and then discussed various political figures but HEY let’s go back and do a listening on the death penalty”. Wouldn’t going with the flow and getting more examples of corrupt politicians from different countries be better? Then if you really want to do a listening find one on the net and give it for HW.

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