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English Conversation Program Orientation
Transcript of English Conversation Program Orientation
Review of program requirements
Helping students get comfortable
Questions and wrap-up
English conversation Program Overview
Helping students get comfortable
The first session
Have a conversational component
Examples; “Twenty Questions,” “Categories,” "I Spy,” “Word Chain," “Would you Rather” and “Two Truths and a Lie”.
Get the student to prepare a warm-up for your next session. This will give the student the opportunity to explain the rules of the game (while speaking English) in a scenario that has minimal pressure since the basis of the activity is enjoyable.
Give the student a list of 8-10 words
Student talks for fifteen seconds, non stop, about the word/topic he or she has chosen
You go first!
Each session, add time to the clock
Don't correct grammatical mistakes - the focus of the activity is to build confidence in speaking English
“Simulate” or “practice” conversing by employing small talk
First, tell and/or write down small talk questions/topics common to Canada, e.g. “What do you do?”, weather, weekend plans
Then students describe small talk questions/topics common to their home country
Equipped with small talk topics and questions, role play a variety of conversations
Use interesting conversational questions - there are lots of lists online.
First the student can pick a question, then you.
Practicing Small Talk
Main focus = relationship building
Sets the tone
Help your student feel comfortable and communicate
Ask about previous language English learning experience
Find out purpose and goals
Commit for one term
Attend this session (check)
Attend Peer Mentorship Training (this is optional)
Meet in a neutral place - at least to start
Meet for a minimum of 20 hrs (~ 2 hrs per week)
Keep Program Coordinator up to date on any issues or concerns
Maintain log sheet
Confirm end date before the end
Submit log sheet
and one-page summary if GEC)
Complete end-of-term survey
Gain experience teaching by providing ESL activities that address learning styles, skill levels, and goals of the student.
Increase knowledge of other countries and customs.
Gain a sense of accomplishment or fulfillment by helping another person.
Practice conversational English in order to improve speaking and listening skills.
Increase confidence and comfort level.
Learn about Canadian culture and customs.
Meet people from the university and community, creating friendships and expanding networks.
calendars, photos, magazines, newspapers
books (textbooks, esl, novels)
worksheets, games, flashcards you find at different esl websites
information from university clubs/services
the physical space where you teach
a running list of idioms, phrases, words that you use every day that will be useful to your student
international students from around the world – undergrad, graduate, exchange
all have had to pass an English language proficiency test to be studying at Waterloo
levels of ability may differ in different areas – may be an excellent writer, but struggles with conversation
age - between 19 and 45, but most early twenties
possibly facing other challenges besides language – learning a new academic system, visa and immigration concerns, different customs, expectations and social norms, homesickness, “life logistics” in a new culture; everything else that transitioning to university involves
Common ESL Topics
Speaking and Listening Activities
Real life context
Identify the word
Circle the answer
What's wrong with this picture?
Watch a movie and discuss
Health and safety
describe and interpret pictures
describe objects (qualities, colours, shapes, uses)
compare and contrast (objects, pictures, sports, experiences, films, etc.)
describe and interpret recorded material (radio advertisements, newscasts, TV shows. etc.)
solving dilemmas and survival problems/scenarios
e.g. Suppose you lost your wallet and money in a foreign country. What would you do? What five things would you take to a desert island and why?
state and support opinions
A smattering of themes/topics
•Looking for key words
•Looking for nonverbal cues to meaning
•Predicting a speaker's purpose from the context of the spoken discourse
•Associating information with one's existing cognitive structure (activating background information/experiences)
•Guessing at meanings
•Listening for the general gist
Listening strategies for students
• Asking for clarification (What?)
• Asking someone to repeat something (Sorry? Excuse me?)
• Using conversation maintenance cues (Uh huh, Right, Yeah, Okay, Hm)
• Getting someone's attention (Hey, Say, So)
• Using paraphrases for structures one can't produce
• Appealing for assistance from the person participating in the dialogue or conversation
• Using mime and nonverbal expressions to convey meaning
Speaking strageties for students
What can we do in our sessions?
Tips for success
Be positive and open-minded
Set a schedule from the beginning
Teach what your student wants to learn
Ask if you don't know
Address issues early
Speak clearly, at a regular speed, and face your student
Minimize slang, and when you use it, explain it
Be open-minded and patient
Be conscious of your student's "lag time"
Maximize your listening skills and your student's speaking skills
Recognize errors aren't a bad thing - they show progress and are an opportunity to review/reinforce concepts
Realize your student must take ownership of their own learning
You are a volunteer - enjoy your sessions!
A student's perspective
ESL tutor resource manual (including mind map), found here: