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English Conversation Starters: Integrating Speaking Skills With Grammar

‘Ask me about’ is a great English conversation activity that integrates grammar. Just give students prompts and ask them to list keywords that relate to these topics.

The activity can target different grammatical elements, cover a variety of linguistic aims and can be used with most levels, ages and large groups.

It is also easy to set up and the only aids required are for each student to have a piece of paper and a pen.

This simple activity can be used as a warmer, an ice-breaker, or as a productive speaking activity at the end of a grammar lesson.

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Targeting a Specific Grammatical Feature – Teaching Grammar

To practice a specific grammatical form and function, this type of activity could be used in the practice or final production stage.

For a beginning level English grammar lesson, you might, for example, use this activity to have students ask about likes and dislikes using the simple present. All they need to do is draw or write on their paper five things they like or don’t like. Then, they sit with a partner or small group and take turns asking about the keywords on each student’s paper.

When practicing grammar topics at more advanced levels, you might, for example, use this activity to practice the use of past tenses for discovering information about each other’s past experiences. It helps to keep students focused on the target grammatical feature if they are given a set of prompts to answer.

They note on their paper only the keywords to answer the prompts. Their partners must ask questions to discover the meaning behind the keyword.

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English Conversation Topics That Target Meaning – Teaching Grammar

What happens in this type of activity is that students are focusing on meaning and will need to use different past tense target forms to ask and answer questions and learn about each other. This is a fluency focused activity, with the main objective to enable students to speak with each other and use the language they have been practicing.

Example prompts                                                                      Example Key Words

A person who had a big influence on you                                        father

A happy memory from the past                                                         camping

An unforgettable celebration you attended                                     wedding

A time you were hurt or a person you hurt in the past                 my sister

Something you lost or won in the past                                              softball

A time you helped someone or they helped you                             Christmas 2013

Teaching students to use keywords that stimulate English conversation topics is an easy way to structure your English grammar lesson plan. Learn to teach grammar communicatively with OnTESOL! Take an advanced TESOL Diploma recognized by TESL Canada.

Related Articles:

Information Gaps: Grammar and Speaking Skills Activity

Teaching Grammar Using the Communicative Approach

Teaching Grammar: Elicitation Through Concept Questions

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