Learning to improve our conversational skills can be daunting when we start learning a new language. Children often find learning a new language easier as they are in a learning environment at school already. Adults can be daunted at having to speak out loud and are embarrassed at making mistakes. Learning conversational skills should be fun so here are 20 role play ideas for English speaking beginners to improve conversational skills. These topics are great for beginner/intermediate level English students as well as those who are practicing for speaking tests for IELTS or TOEFL.
Start with short discussions (which could include a question and answer session) to help beginners talk about themselves. This can include where they live, family members, what they do and why they want to learn English.
Topics or debates
These can include asking the students to describe something that interests them. This can include hobbies, travel, films, books and music.
Practice having a phone conversation choosing a subject that will interest the beginner. This could include going shopping and what to buy, going to a restaurant and booking a table and what is on the menu, to discussing making holiday and travel arrangements. This is rather like a question and answer session that will help you improve conversational skills.
Choose a topic, for example technology, give the English-speaking learners some time to prepare and then discuss the chosen topic including why they like the topic and the advantages and disadvantages of what you are talking about. There are no right or wrong answers in sharing opinions.
Face and body game
This would be based on learning the parts of the face and the students could touch the relevant part saying the word in English at the same time. This would include eyes, ears, hair, mouth, teeth, chin, forehead, nose and eyebrows. Continue to include arms, elbows, wrists, hands, fingers, thumbs, finger nails, legs, knees, ankles and feet. This is a great role play idea to improve conversational skills.
Discuss favourite music and how we listen to music whether via Spotify or from a play list on our mobile phone, tablet or computer. The conversation would include when we listen to music and whether we listen to music at home or out using headphones. The discussion could include whether the student knows the words of any famous songs in English.
Want to practice Conversational English with a Real Native English Teacher? Sign up for a trial lesson below
Discuss favourite books and suggest well-known books to read in English starting with easy books then progressing to more difficult books as student become more confident with their reading. A question and answer session could follow asking students about their opinions of the books being read.
Choose a television programme that is well known and discuss what the programme is about. Discuss favourite television programmes giving reasons for the choices made.
These could include the English-speaking beginners asking questions with an answer being either yes or no. The teacher chooses the subject for the first few games. The students have to find out by asking the teacher questions what they are trying to guess. The topic could be animals (and if so which animal), a means of travel (and if so whether a car, bus, plane or train), weather (sunny, cold, hot, raining, snowing) and continue to what job the person answering the question does. Then reverse this game with different learners choosing the subject and other members of the group answering yes and no and then having to guess the answer.
Reading newspapers and magazines is an excellent way of improving English whether reading online or reading a newspaper or magazines. Choose shorter easier articles to begin with trying to read any articles of interest. Discuss the articles being read.
Discuss favourite films and whether seen with English sub-titles or in English. We all like to watch films and discussions can cover all the different types of films from films which make us laugh, science fiction films, thrillers to romance and action films.
Discuss going shopping and include questions such as buying clothes, buying food, where we go shopping and do we order clothes and food online and have these delivered. Discuss favourite food and clothes we like to buy.
This is a big topic covering where students have visited, where they would like to visit, how they travelled and famous sites to see on their travels.
Jobs and careers
Discussions on careers are a great way to improve conversational skills. There are many questions which can be asked under this heading starting with basic questions and then progressing to more difficult questions once the students become more confident and know more English. Questions will include: What job do you do? Do you enjoy your job? Would you like to work abroad? Do you work as a team or on your own? What are your qualifications for doing this job? Is there promotion? Is there another job you would like to do?
Desert Island activity
Imagine you are stranded on a desert island. What would you like to take with you? How would you survive? If you could take someone with you, who would the person be? Enjoy discussing this topic.
I have never done …………..
Discuss what we have never done before and why we would like to do it in the future.
Eating in a restaurant
Talk about what types of food we like to eat, what restaurants we like to go to, looking at a menu and ordering food.
Discussions would include phone mobiles, tablets and laptops. So many of us rely on technology and what apps we use and whether we use Facebook, Snapchat, Facetime, etc so this is a good way to start with basic English and improve conversational skills.
Discuss how many animals can be named in English and then describe in English including what they look like, whether big or small, what colour these animals are, whether they swim, live in water or fly and whether they can be kept as pets.
Play the Game ‘Simon Says’
This is a popular game played with 3 or more players. The teacher gives instructions such as “Simon says to jump up and down’ and all the others have to follow these instructions. Have a few practices and then once everyone understands the rules of the game then the last player to follow the game is eliminated. The instructions can include:
Simon says sit on the floor
Simon says touch your toes
Simon says put your hands on your head
Simon says wave your hands in the air
Simon says to clap your hands
A very popular game and teaches beginners easy language whilst having many laughs.
All these activities help English-speaking beginners to build their confident and to improve conversational skills. Many of these activities will produce laughs and all these activities are good for increasing one’s knowledge of how to speak English. The more practice new students have will mean that their English will improve very quickly. All the above activities will include a large amount of “speaking time” which is so important when learning a new language. Have fun and enjoy.