Have you ever thought about joining an English conversation class but are not sure what to expect? In this post, I’ll tell you why I enjoy teaching these classes so much and what you might learn if you come to one of my groups.
One of the best things about conversation classes is that students get to practice their English skills in small groups with supportive classmates. At first, some students are a bit worried about making mistakes in front of other people but they soon stop worrying and learn to relax. We all help each other find the right words and enjoy discussing the fascinating questions about the English language.
I’m always amazed at just how talkative the students are
The main aim of these classes is to get people talking. Before each lesson, I give the students something quick to do. It might be an article to read, a video to watch or a podcast to listen to. During the lesson we discuss any vocabulary the students found interesting and later the students discuss the topic in pairs, answering the questions I’ve prepared in advance. Sometimes the students get sidetracked and talk about what they did at the weekend but that's completely fine. It doesn’t really matter what we all talk about, just that we are communicating in English. I’m always amazed at just how talkative the students are. Occasionally people struggle to find the right word, but with gestures and a bit of context we can almost always understand each other. At the end of each session I give some feedback on what people have done well and on some points they might want to practice at home.
I'm passionate about English grammar but this passion isn't always shared by my students! Some students are a bit apprehensive about grammar and can find it a bit overwhelming. The conversation classes allow me to focus on the grammar that my students need. I listen to the ideas that students want to express and then I give them suggestions about how they can say things differently. Sometimes people express their ideas too directly and I explain how the same ideas can be softened, made a bit less direct. Sometimes students make the same errors over and over again - so-called 'fossilized errors'. Students have been saying things the same 'wrong' way in English for a long time so it can be a bit tricky to break these habits but slowly my students are learning to form the second conditional (If I won the lottery, I would buy a yacht) in spontaneous conversation - and they are always thrilled when I tell them that they got it right.
The classes are a great way of expanding your vocabulary. Firstly, by reading the articles or watching videos you will be exposed to authentic English. Secondly, I'll give you feedback on what you said and how you could have said it differently. My students love talking about English idioms and finding out about how words are really used.
Meeting people and learning about more than English
The classes are also an opportunity to new meet people, to discover more about the jobs that fellow students do or the businesses they run, the areas where they live, their travel plans, their hobbies and their backgrounds. Students in these classes share tips with each other about favourite shops and restaurants, museum ideas and holiday destinations. We recommend favourite hikes or bicycle rides that are worth doing. Students talk about growing up in Switzerland and buying vegetables from the Migros van and others talk about growing up in far-away countries. The beauty of these conversation classes is that we all learn about more than language – we learn about each other’s cultures and backgrounds.
I'm really proud of the progress that my students have made in these classes. Students are much more willing to use English outside the classroom and have received lots of positive feedback from their friends and families about their improved English skills. Some students now listen to English podcasts on a regular basis and others find the time to read English language novels. Some travel to English speaking countries (or at least they did this before the Corona lockdown) and are happy that they can speak to fellow travellers.
Come to these classes if you want to meet people and become more confident in spoken English. You'll learn a bit of grammar on the side and I'll help you to avoid some of the common errors that non-native speakers often make. Hopefully you'll see the classes as a hobby, something enjoyable to do on a weekly basis that's good for your brain!
The classes can be joined at any time. Simply send me an email if you would like to try one of the classes. I'm happy to set up new classes depending upon my schedule as long as there are at least three students. At the moment all group classes are online due to the Corona situation.