Blog series on teaching conversation classes

Cats cuddling

I’ve been teaching conversation language classes for the last 5 years in two countries (Japan and Germany).

Below is a series of blog posts designed to help the new conversation class teacher not get overwhelmed, and to make the class successful.

Starting a new conversation class – how to get the first class right with the lesson plan and handout that has worked brilliantly for me.

Choosing conversation topics need not be scary – let the students do it for you!

Improving speaking confidence in language classes is very important for a successful course.

I’ll be adding to this series over time, with actual lesson plans and a course schedule with example topics and grammar.

For a broader overview, the article “How to teach a conversation class” I wrote a few years ago year is a quick read.


ESL conversation and writing prompts – illness and treatments

Kitty yogaUnless you are in a country where it’s frowned upon to talk about illness and treatments, these topics can generate some very lively debates!

I’ve even had fantastic arguments and discussions happen in a classes over remedies for colds and flu, methods to beat insomnia, stress reduction techniques, whether yoga was some kind of brain-washing cult taking over the world, and that meditation (!) was dangerous, life-threatening and addictive.

You can use the prompts as both conversation starters or writing prompts in English classes or to stretch your writing muscles.

Illness and Treatments – conversation and writing prompts

Main blogs – StillPain and LearnedWords

IV port in handIf you are interested in following along with health musings, medical research and my journey to untangle my complex health problems, I’m blogging over at

Endometriosis, adenomyosis, PTSD, fibromyalgia, costochondritis, spondyloarthritis, stress and pain management, as well as a constellation of other health and lifestyle related topics will be featured, along with my photography in black and white. has tips for language teachers and learners, and for writers. It’s more work focused, and less personal than my health blog. You’ll find lesson plans for my EFL classes, puzzles and handouts, as well as reviews of the software I use and related books.

I’d love to see you there!

Words rhyming with ‘ale’

I usually give these vocabulary building exercises to my conversation class students as homework, although completing them in class can result in a surprising amount of noise and talking.

Word list, rhyming with ale

Example: A type of beer: ale

  1. A bundle of hay.
  2. To remove water from somewhere, usually the inside of a boat.
  3. To become sick. …

For the remainder, please visit Words rhyming with ‘ale’ on LearnedWords.

Bite-sized podcasts for English fluency

Podcasts are an excellent and enjoyable way to increase your listening fluency and pick up new words, in context.

I’ve been using a few in German, and have noticed it’s much easier for me to put together sentences – I’m soaking up the grammar as well as new words!

To see my recommendations for short to medium length podcasts, please visit Bite-sized podcasts for English fluency on LearnedWords.

What if you won a medieval village?

medieval castle and fieldsI’ve been running this mini ‘project’ in both my business and conversation classes.

Each group’s suggestions are completely different to all other groups and fascinating!

It’s a great chance to practice conjunctions, if-conditionals, modal verbs, and to get everyone talking, debating, negotiating, and even arguing heatedly!

In the business classes, they have to present a proposal, in order to win more ‘funding’.

You’ve just won a competition!

For fun, you entered a competition with a group from your English class, although you never expected to win.

Now that you have actually won, you want to restore this lovely medieval village and turn it into a profitable business.

To see the rest of the lesson plan and grab the PDF handout, please see What if you won a medieval village? on LearnedWords.

Professions crossword

A number of my classes are deep in the jobs and professions topic area.

Crosswords are a fun way of increasing vocabulary (both in the answers and in the questions!)

Visit Professions crossword on LearnedWords to grab the downloadable PDF.

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