Starting an English Speaking club is a great way to practice Conversational English. Conversational English is not the same as the English you learn in textbooks. There is a lot to speaking a language than what you learn in grammar lessons and vocabulary guides. Spoken English clubs allow learners to practice with fellow ESL students in a fun and engaging way. In this post, Zoe, one of our Native English teachers shed her expertise on how to start and run an English Speaking club effectively.
Your English conversation will work best if you have at least 80% of its’ members at an equal level in English speaking proficiency. This will make most people comfortable to speak up. It is ok to have 1-2 people at a lower level of skill and it is benificial to have a few who are at a higher level of proficiency. Statistically speaking, try to attract a normal distribution of English learners. Someone who is more fluent in English could take turns and be the Conversation circle leader.
A productive English Conversation Club will allow everyone opportunities to practice speaking. This, however is easier said than done. A Conversation leader’s job is to make sure everyone gets chances to contribute to the discussion. Also, the conversation leader would have the responsibility to discuss what topics to cover during lessons. Of course, this should be a group decision but someone leading the discussion always helps gain consensus.
It is easy to revert back to your first language (native language) when things get tough. It could start with one member helping out another with nothing but good intentions, and you’ll realize that within a few days half of the conversations happen in non English. This defeats the whole purpose of starting an English club in the first place. Make sure the whole group understands the importance of sticking to only English, at least during the few hours you meet at the English club. Make this a fundamental rule and be prepared to remove any members who start using the native language during the meetings.
The best way to be fluent in English is to practice speaking with native English speakers. If you can attract one or two English speakers to sit in for your conversation sessions, that would increase the quality of sessions by a great extent. Remember, there could be tourists from English speaking countries who are looking to mingle with locals. Invite them to join the Conversation session, get to know locals and to learn more about the region. In return, you will allow the members a great opportunity to interact with native English speakers and improve English.
Make sure your Spoken English group meets regularly and practice at least for a couple of hours. Learning English is all about immersion, so the more time you spend, the better you are going to be. When new members join, get them to commit to participating regularly. Discourage members who are inconstant and tardy. You might suffer in the short run but this approach will increase the quality of the conversation circle in the long run.
As with most group activities, group size is critical for the success of a English speaking club. The ideal size for an English club is around 15. (between 12 – 18). This is a small enough group that allows everyone to get around 8 minutes of talking time during a 2 hour meeting. At the same time, it is large enough group to have a rich, engaging conversation about a topic. Making the group too large will discourage some members, specially the shy ones. Making the group too small might making it uninteresting for some. Stick to around 15 at the start and optimize from there.
If you are looking to be more fluent in English and gain confidence, an English Speaking club is a great place to start practicing. Start one today in your locality and improve English in a fun way. We can help too with resources – feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll share our 2 cents.