Many of our students say they want to practice their conversation skills. You can use these English conversation activities to help them do just that and to work on speaking more fluently at the same time.
Keep in mind that these activities are not meant to replace a coursebook or textbook, but can be used to supplement it, such as in the last 15 or 20 minutes of class, or as a quick warm-up at the beginning.
Of course, avoid throwing in random English conversation activities into your lessons without some sort of purpose. They should be closely related to the topic of the day.
ESL Speaking Activities for Adults: Top 15
Let’s get to the top picks for speaking and conversation activities for adults.
#1: Conversation Starters for Adults
An excellent way to begin your class off is with an interesting question so that each student can share a little bit about their life. Her are a few of those great questions that are guaranteed to get some discussion going. Remember to keep it student-centered and have them talk to each other, instead of as a whole class.
I find that groups of 2-3 students work best, instead of bigger groups. In this situation, everyone has a chance to talk, instead of the best student in the group dominating the conversation.
Learn more here: Conversation Starters.
#2: Cocktail Party to Practice Small Talk
This is a great way for students to practice small-talk by pretending that they’re at a cocktail party. Often, the best ESL games or activities replicate real-life and this one does just that.
You can find out how to use this activity here: The Cocktail Party.
#3 English Conversation Class for Adults: The Small Talk Game
Another way to get students speaking in English is by playing this conversational game. It’s quite challenging, but also really fun and students always enjoy it. You can adjust the length of time up or down depending on the level of your students-shorter for beginners and longer for more advanced level students.
Learn how to set this activity up here: The Small Talk Game.
#4: Partner Conversation Starters
If you have very low level students that are unable to have a “real” conversation, try out these conversation starters. They are very structured and students will be able to get a feel for using English in a conversation.
Simply adjust the blank spaces depending on student level-more spaces for advanced and fewer spaces for beginners. It’s an easy way to help your students build confidence with English.
Check it out here: Partner Conversation Starters. These short, simple questions are a good start to deeper, more meaningful conversations between and with your students.
Encourage follow-up questions so that students have to explain their answers.
#5: An Activity for the Hobby Unit
If you’re studying hobbies, try out this fun ESL speaking activity that is student-centered awesome. You’ll be able to just relax and have students do all the work, which is actually what you should be doing all the time anyways!
Teaching about hobbies? Get some help here with one of my favourite speaking activities: The Hobby Unit Conversation Activity.
Tips on Making your Classroom More Student-Centered
#6 English Conversation Activities: Surveys for ESL Students
I’m all about using surveys in my classes and I make my students do them at least once a month. They’re very, very useful for getting students to ask follow-up questions as well as talking to just about everyone in the class.
Plus, they cover a wide variety of skills in a fun, interesting way. But, when you teach your lesson, be sure to set up and explain this activity well for the best results.
You can find out how to use surveys in an EFL or ESL classroom here: Surveys for ESL Students.
Teaching Tip: If you have an activity as good as this, it’s common to want to spend a long time doing it. However, it does get boring after 15 minutes or so, so keep things moving along in your class and mix things up a bit.
#7: Presentation and Task-Based Learning Activities
Both public speaking and task-based learning lend themselves quite well to conversation, if you require the students who are listening to the presentation to ask some follow-up questions. Or, you could also have the student doing the presentation to prepare some discussion questions for after the presentation.
Try out these ESL conversation activities for adults in your classes today and you’ll have your students speaking, listening, and having fun at the same time! One of my favourite topics is current events because they allow students to give opinions about what’s happening in the world. Students usually choose popular topics that lend themselves to further discussion.
Of course, these ESL Speaking Activities work much better for intermediate and advanced levels of students than beginners. However, I have had my high beginners do presentations with great success. The key is to assign quite simple topics and allow for lots of preparation time and coaching.
Presentations are often a serious challenge, but students have a great sense of accomplishment when they’re done.
#8: Describe the Word Vocabulary Review Game
Having a decent vocabulary is key for students who are just getting started with English conversation. In some countries, this really isn’t a problem as students learn new words in English from the time they are very little. However, in other places, your students may really struggle with it.
One way to help your students out, especially beginners is to do some vocabulary review games, like this one: Flip-Chart. The way it works is that students have to describe a term to their “captain” who doesn’t know what it is. It works for almost any topic and students really like to play it. I’d actually consider it to be a sort of ESL information gap activity.
If you want to help your students out with this important skill and with describing things, you can learn more about it here:
Alternatively, you could write a list of words on the board (dispersed randomly) and students can take turns describing a word of their choice to a partner.
This activity is also ideal for holiday-themed classes. You can find even more ideas here: ESL Christmas Activities.
#9: Just a Minute
Another top pick that you can use during your conversation class for adults or teens is Just a Minute. Unlike many of the other activities you can find, this one focuses on speaking fluency.
Plus, it’s easy to turn it from just a speaking activity into a conversation one by requiring that students listen, and ask 1-2 follow-up questions for each person.
Do you want to know more about this popular speaking activity for adults? Check out all the details on YouTube:
#10: The Expert TEFL Conversation Activity
If you have higher level students, then you’re definitely going to want to try out this one at the beginning of the course. It’s one of my favourite icebreakers because after all, who doesn’t like talking about themselves?
The way it works is that students pick a number of topics that they’re an expert in. Then, they narrow them down to ones that they think other students in the class will be most interested in. After that, you can match up the students and they can have a mini-interview/conversation with their partner about those things.
It’s a nice way for students to learn more about each other and you don’t have to put people on the spot in front of the class.
Find out more about it here: The Expert ESL Speaking Activity for Adults.
#11: Tell A Simple Story from the Past
You know the unit about simple past in your textbook? Yeah, there’s almost always one, and it can get a little bit boring. However, you can make the old new again by doing this interesting conversation class activity.
Give students a topic related to something in the past. For example, a past vacation, or a fun memory from their school days. Allow students a few minutes to prepare and jot down a few notes (not full sentences).
Then, in groups of 4-5, each student takes a turn telling their story. Each member of the group has to listen carefully and ask at least 1 follow-up question, and the person has to answer them. For whatever reason, students really seem to enjoy this simple group conversation activity.
#12: Family Activities
One of the most common topics you can find in conversational English textbooks is family. This can often get a little bit boring, so it can be useful to spice things up a little bit with some fresh, new activities.
Check out some of my favourite ESL conversation activities for adults or kids related to family here:
#13 English Conversation Activities: Information Gap ESL Activities
If you have students who are a little bit reluctant to speak to each other in English (my experience in South Korea), then you’ll have be sneaky about what kinds of activities and games you use.
The best ones are often of the information gap variety. This is where one student has one set of information and their partner has the other. Then, they have to work together to put everything together into one.
Sounds complicated? It’s actually not so much. Here are some tips for getting started:
#14 Conversation Games for Adults: Getting to Know You Bingo
If you’re looking for an English conversation game that you can use for the first day of class as an icebreaker, then you’ll want to consider this getting to know you Bingo game.
It’s ideal because students have to get up, move around the class, and talk to various classmates in order to fill in their Bingo grid. Although the students won’t have in-depth conversations, it does make a nice icebreaker activity.
Of course, emphasize to your students that the point of the game is for students to get to know people other than their friends! It’s a lot more fun this way too if you don’t already know the answers to the questions you’re asking.
And for the answers? Students of course have to tell the truth.
Learn more about it here: Get to Know You Bingo Game.
#15 ESL Conversation Activities: Board Games
In my real life, I love to play board games. So, I like to use them in my ESL conversation classes as well. There are various places you can find them:
- In the textbook you’re using
- In the teacher’s resource book that may come with your textbook
Or, you can make your own. Once you get the hang of it, and have a template that you use, you can make a custom one for the unit you’re teaching in under 15 minutes. Now, if that’s not some ESL teaching awesome, then I don’t know what is.
Check out this short video below for even more details about them:
Like These English Conversational Games for Adults?
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 146 Pages - 03/10/2016 (Publication Date) - CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (Publisher)
Do you like these conversation games and activities for adults? Then you’re going to love this book: 101 ESL Activities for Teenagers and Adults. There are dozens of top-quality English speaking, listening, reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary and warm-up games and activities to help you plan your lessons quickly and easy.
Well Organized and Easy to Find What you’re Looking For
The best part is that the book is organized into sections so that you should be able to find what you’re looking for in seconds. Need a writing activity? No problem. A quick warmer? Sure!
It sure beats wasting a ton of time searching around on the Internet for ESL conversation activities for adults, right? I mean, I certainly think so!
Who are the Authors of this Book of English Conversation Activities?
The authors of the book (Jackie Bolen and Jennifer Booker Smith) have decades of experience in ESL and EFL classrooms with children, teenagers, university students and adults so they know what works. They’ve taught a huge range of classes, and have even taught teachers how to teach English.
Learn from their experiences and find out how to vary the activities in your classroom. Your students really can have fun while learning English at the same time! Seriously, it is possible!
Available in a Variety of Formats
101 ESL Activities is available in both digital and print formats. The digital copy can be read on any device by downloading the free Kindle reading app. Keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office to use a handy reference guide. Or, take the digital version with you to your favourite coffee shop for lesson planning on the go. It really is that easy.
Have more than 100 top-quality activities with you on the go—anywhere you might plan lessons.
You can check out the book for yourself on Amazon, but only if you want to get yourself a serious dose of ESL awesome in your life.
What Makes an English Conversation Class Interesting?
There are a few key things that make an English conversation class more interesting for your students. They include:
- A variety of topics and things to talk about
- Bringing current events into the classroom
- Changing partners regularly
- A variety of games and activities
- Student feedback
- Everyone has a chance to talk and participate
English Conversation Activities: Have your Say!
What’s your favourite one or two English conversation activities for teenagers or adults? Or, do you have any conversation games that you love to use? Leave a comment below and let us know. We’d love to hear from you.
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Last update on 2019-11-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API