Conversation Books for Kids?

I teach 2 classes for an hour each a week in a small buxiban. I used to split the material with the Chinese co-teacher, I taught reading and phonics, and she taught the rest.

The kids are 8-11 years old, have been learning English for around 6 months and are at the level where they can talk about what they like/want/have, brothers, sisters, and days of the week.

The boss has now said that I am to teach ONLY conversation, she wants to buy some books for this. She wants me to choose the material and I’m free to teach in anyway I see fit, which is good, but at this level I don’t really know of much outside of ‘Up and Away’ and ‘Let’s Go’. Both of which I don’t feel are particularly suitable for teaching just conversation for an hour at a time.

Can anyone recommend a book(s) for teaching 10 year olds conversation?

Thanks in advance! :thumbsup:

Don’t do it.

It sounds really hard work finding stuff for them to talk about and preparing stuff, and very difficult and extremely tedious like pulling teeth actually getting them to talk.

You’d be better off doing some research into language learning, and then come back to your boss with a balanced view of education. Kids need structure, they need to learn vocab and grammar and then have some way to utilize the language they’ve just learned. You could suggest, perhaps, sticking with Let’s Go for 40 minutes and then having conversation for 20. They you’re staying with what you’re familiar with, but giving more of what’s wanted, and 20 minutes to find something appropriate for talking (with the Let’s Go textbook giving a subject) is much more doable. But 60 minutes “conversation” with kids with very limited grammar and language ability? Yikes. Run away!

Good points. Is it even possible to “teach” conversation? Their level seems pretty low for it. If they’re dead set on it, how about using some basic reading as a starter? Readers appropriate to their level. You could work out some simple discussion activities based on the reading topics, doing like half/half reading and discussion.

Thanks for the replies, I know what you are saying – how can you have a conversation if you don’t have the basic vocabulary and grammar knowledge to do so.

By ‘conversation class’, I think what the boss really means is ‘make the kids do nothing but speak for an hour’.

The buxiban is not an English school; it is an art school that gives the kids some an English class on a Wednesday afternoon. Hence why it’s only a couple of hours a week. It’s a really nice and relaxed place to be, the boss is never there and the classes are only 5-6 kids.

For the classes yesterday I prepared a work sheets with simple questions on them and a box to draw or write the answer. I had the kids go round asking each other the questions and filling out the answers. They loved it. They are not shy so getting them to talk is not the problem. But for a few hours pay a week, making the worksheets my self is way too much prep work.

I guess I should have really asked the question:

‘Can you recommend a book with nothing but speaking activities for beginners?’

If you haven’t, I’d take a look in Crane, they have a bunch of spiral collections of photocopiable worksheets that could be useful. Not sure about for that level. They have a lot of other resource books too.

I’m not sure the exact level of your kids, but I would suggest something similar to what ice raven did: Tell your boss that you think their level is too low to really have a conversation. Instead, you can allot a special time at the end (or beginning of class) in which you engage the kids in small talk about anything you think they might be interested in. You can try to work in vocabulary for them to learn or you could even turn it into a sort of Storytime where you tell an oral story and invite them to comment on it for discussion. If you think that is too hard, you can try finding some material here:

Not sure if those will fit your students’ level but it’s worth checking out.

Another option is that you could set aside a special time to encourage the kids to talk about their weekend, their day at public school or anything topical (like holidays, weather, local events and such). You could even bring interesting pictures or objects into class and invite the kids to talk about it/use it as a way to introduce new vocabulary/sentence structures.

I would shy away from allotting a whole hour to it if you can. Tell your boss you think it should be supplementary to a more structured curriculum for them. Hope that helps!

If you go to a bookstore like Crane or Caves, take a look at “Jazz Chants for Children” by Carolyn Graham, and see if it fits with your style of teaching. I used it to reinforce language patterns in a fun way in class. It worked well as a supplementary resource.

A colleague picked up a set of books called ‘Speak with Me’, published by eduplanet. I used them for the first time yesterday. It’s reasonable material and the kids seemed to like the design of the books.

Thanks for all the input.

Great! Though sometimes we all wish someone would publish a book called “Speak with Yourself (And Leave Me the F*ck Alone!)” :laughing: :smiley: :laughing: