How to Begin Conversation Class | ESL Warm-Ups

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How to Start a Conversation Class

Over the years, I’ve kind of struggled with how to begin a conversation class. Not the very first class, but all the other ones after that.

If you’re in the same boat, keep on reading. I’ll share my top tips with you about how to begin your English classes in style.

How to Begin Conversation Class

I know everyone has their own way to start  a conversation class but here’s what I do. I try to arrive at least 10 minutes early so I don’t have to do all this stuff while students are attentively watching and waiting for me! I also ask that students talk to me after class, instead of before because I have more time to help them.

When you rush in at the last minute to your ESL class, your computer is bound to break, or you’ll notice that your board marker is out of ink! Murphy’s Law. Avoid this stress by giving yourself a few minutes to get everything together.

The ESL Classroom Environment

I walk into the class, adjust the temperature, desks and podium to my liking. I’ll turn on the computer and projector if using it for that class. A few random hellos as students walk in. Remember: You are the teacher and it’s up to you to make a comfortable learning environment. Something like opening the blinds to allow a little natural light can really make a big difference.

Prepare my Materials for ESL Class

I take my stuff out of my bag and set out all the materials I’ll need for that class. There is nothing worse than having attention and then losing it due to poor preparation and having to search in your bag for things.

The Day’s Agenda

I write up the days agenda on the board or load up the PPT that has it on the first page. I’ll also write the first 1 or 2 things that we’ll be doing on the board, so I don’t waste time doing this later. By this time, there is usually about 1 or 2 minutes until class starts, so I’ll walk around doing attendance.

General Chit-Chat

I’ll start with a good afternoon/morning and then some general chit-chat for a couple minutes. I’ll avoid this with the really quiet classes because dead silence is never a good start to a class, but it’s actually quite fun with the better ones.

However, I generally like to begin with a warm-up activity instead. I don’t love small talk, over and over again, multiple times a day.

I do like warm-up activities or games that help to introduce a new topic or review an old one.

ESL Warm-Up/Icebreaker Activity or Game

ESL Warm-Ups for Teenagers and AdultsThere are a few different things I do, but some of them involve a game of some kind (check out: for lots of ideas), some trivia, a word puzzle, YouTube Video, or short, “talk to your partner about this topic” thing.

Or, check out this book over on Amazon that I think you’ll find really useful. It’ll help you get your classes started off on the right foot, guaranteed. Avoid the awkward, and instead do some fun review activities!

It’s available in both digital and print versions. Keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office to use as a handy reference guide, Or, take a copy with you for lesson planning on the go.

It really is that easy to plan your lessons quickly and easily. Check out the book for yourself here:

—>39 ESL Warm-Ups: For Teenagers and Adults<—

Check out one of my Favourite ESL Warm-Ups

Just a Minute is perfect for intermediate to advanced level students. Learn more about it here:

What About You?

That’s my routine for the beginning of ESL class. What’s yours? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

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Need More Ideas for the ESL Classroom?

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One Comment

  1. Lillian Tighe

    I really love your information and great ideas for teaching ESL. I teach a small group of adults and many of the activities work really well with them.
    One thing I do is bring in supermarket or other store flyers and the students buy products. Sometimes I tell them how much money they have to spend. Lots of conversation on shopping from a number of angles. My classes are usually very happy with these activities. It’s certainly real world practice.

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