English conversation:

Not just turning up and saying, 'What do you want to talk about?'

(New updated conversation methods!)

 

This is the section where I tell you all about my conversation lessons: how they work, how you can apply, what to expect and some price guidelines.

 

I've had several years experience of teaching in Poland and now specialise in conversation. However, I DO NOT simply saying 'hello' to a student and then just talking away, hoping that we'll find something to talk about, and then charging them. Or even just saying to the student, 'Hello, nice to see you again, what would you like to talk about today?'.

That is absolutely NOT the way to do things.

In many countries there are several students who are keen to practise their conversational skills with a native speaker, but finding good native speakers who had taken the time to prepare material beforehand proved a problem. There are many who do not prepare and just ask the student what they would like to talk about. This is lazy and unprofessional.

Yes - you thought conversation was just talking. No it isn't. You need to have ready materials beforehand and to have spent some time preparing those materials.

And this is precisely what I did, and here is my routine.

1. First lesson: General introductions, easy discussion: six things to take to a desert island, eight interesting facts, the lessons ahead

The first meeting is very important as you need to be relaxed. Having a first lesson, particularly with a native speaker, can be very stressful!

We start with a very leisurely conversation, after which I will then explain to the students what they would expect in further meetings.

Depending on the student, these lessons are usually 60, 90 or two hours maximum.

2. Next lesson: A subject chosen from a prepared list of topics 

Over time, I have collected several interesting, unusual and even controversial subjects and added a twist. We decide on a topic (this is usually done in the previous lesson), and I email a copy of the material needed for you to read and think about ready for the next lesson. This material will now include a vocabulary list that will have no more than 20 words or phrases that perhaps you may not know. Along with comprehension questions, I would then give you a set of ten-fifteen additional questions as a PowerPoint presentation with a set of multiple choice answers (with a score at the end)!

These topics usually last 90 minutes, but depending on the discussion (and student enthusiasm) it is often possible to fill two hours!

If the level is too high, I have an alternative list of general topics to choose from, but here there are no fixed subjects. From a sentence, we can talk about this thing and everything!

3. An optional writing project

Although I am not saying students have to do this, I would like them to have a go at this exercise because this would cover the other CAE requirement of writing. There may well be opportunities for writing in the lessons, particularly at student request. The project, the deadline of which is a school year (so there's plenty of time!) is to write a 400-word text on a particular topic that is in the style of the texts that have been presented in the discussion lessons. I will then go through the text with you and 'knock it into shape'- that is, work on it so it reads like a native speaker has done it. I will then ask you some comprehension questions about your text - which will be typed up - and then, for fun, we will come up with twelve to fifteen fun questions with lots of possible answers! The result is that your finished work will then be used as discussion topics with other students, but you will keep exclusive credit, and if you wish (which I do encourage), your name will be credited on the text.

So what do you have to do and when are lessons available? Click the next page for more information and featuring the most frequently asked questions.

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