Conversation questions

How many of you out there teach speaking?  In this day and age, skills tend to be combined as a result of the so-called ‘integrated skills’ movement. Although supporters of this methodology believe that it reflects real life, I find that courses do not provide enough practice for students in the relevant skills. What I’m saying, is that students need focused practice for a substantial amount of time in the four skills. In my context, students do not get sufficient opportunities to speak, so I try hard to ensure that students speaking per lesson ratio is as high as possible.

I often summarise whole chapters into one A4 worksheet. which then acts as the main point from which I then teach. I typically also prepare my own conversation questions so that students can use these to talk about the content of the chapter. I usually have about 30 questions per chapter.

We now have plenty of pair work going on in the classroom which is a relief. Students have given me positive feedback and are being cajoled into practicing their speaking more.

What do you think? Are we all prone to go with the flow? Have we lost our creativity?

By the way, I’d like to share something I recently found on the net. It’s a speaking question bank. Here’s the link:




Zees is the IELTS and Zees is the TOEFL!

‘Created’ sample speech from somewhere in an inner-circle country (e.g. The UK, USA or Australia).

Doctor -“Thank you for coming zees morning; how can I help?”

Patient– “I have a sore throat.”

Doctor – “Okay. I will prescribe to you zees medicine. Please take zeees tablets, three times a day; is zees clear?”

Patient – “Yes thank you.”

Doctor – “Thank you for coming.”

  • By reading the dialogue, did you fully understand what the doctor said without reservation?
  • What if you were the listener, i.e. the patient?
  • Looking at the sample of speech, should this person’s slight difference in pronunciation be ignored in the examination?
  • Would you say that this person’s speech ‘communicates clearly the task at hand’?
  • If so, then is that not the point of communication?
  • Importantly, should some non-native speaker norms be deemed acceptable within international exams?

The underlying question here is whether International English Exams should recognise these slight differences in speaking as acceptable, the premise being that if the receiver understands what is being said, then the communication here is successful. What do you think?