Stuart Mill English

How to Learn, How to Teach English

Talk Time (Nature)

Talk Time (Nature)

This is another one-hour conversation activity. For an introduction to the series, click here. Enjoy.

Name: Talk Time (Nature)

Prep Time: None

Materials: None

Primary Objective: Build fluency on a given topic

Other Benefits: This is a good review activity or a good activity to do after you’ve worked on a theme for a little while.


Pre-Speaking (20 minutes)

Begin by writing “Nature” on the top of the board. (The theme can be anything, but for this lesson, let’s say it’s nature.)

Now, write “tree, walk, and green” on the board. Explain that they are examples of a noun, verb, and adjective related to nature. Then ask the class for another noun, verb, and adjective related to nature. Write them on the board as well.

(Note: These words don’t have to be related to nature in a direct or even obvious way. The point is that the students are prepping themselves to use some words in the discussion they’ll have a little later. If “nature” makes them think of “hospital” because the last time they went for a hike, they had to go to the hospital, that’s fine.)

Next, the students should take out a piece of paper and write a noun, verb, and adjective of their own. Then, they should pass the paper to their left. That student should read what the last student wrote and add another noun, verb, and adjective. Then, they should pass it again. Repeat until each student has written on each sheet.

Finally, students should write three sentences using the nouns, verbs, and adjectives of whatever paper they end up with. Model it on the board. For example, if your paper looked like this:

Nouns Verbs Adjectives

Tree   Walk    Green

Bird    Swim   Beautiful

Rock   Sleep   Boring

You might write: I slept under the beautiful tree. OR: The green bird couldn’t swim. OR: I think rocks are boring, but sometimes I walk near them.

(Note: Again, the sentences don’t need to be great. They’re just meant to get the students using the vocabulary in a creative, if structured, way.)

Have the students share their sentences with a partner.

Pre-Speaking #2 (5 minutes)

Ask the students to suggest sample discussion questions about nature. Write a couple examples of good discussion questions on the board:

Do you often visit a forest?

Do you like nature?

What is you favorite animal?

When students suggest good questions, write them on the board. If a student suggests a bad discussion question (e.g. Did you ever see a tiger?), change it to something better (e.g. What are some animals you have seen? OR Do you like tigers? Why/Why not?). You just want to avoid questions that students won’t be able to answer or will obviously answer quickly.

Speaking (20 minutes)

Now, tell the students to discuss the questions on the board for 20 minutes. Write the time that they need to talk (e.g. 10:20-10:40) on the board. Tell them that they must speak only English for 20 minutes. If they finish discussing the questions on the board before 20 minutes have passed, that’s OK. They can talk about whatever they want, but it should be in English.

While they speak, walk around the class and talk with different groups about the questions. Demonstrate how to ask follow-up questions and encourage them to do the same.

Post-Speaking (15 minutes)

Now, discuss the questions as a class. Ask each question to one or two students and ask follow-up questions as appropriate.


Ask the students to think of topics related to nature. For instance, they might suggest: Camping, Animals, Sports, etc.

Assign one of these topics to each student (several students can have the same topic, but not if they’re sitting next to each other). The students should write five discussion questions on their topic and ask their partner the questions.


Ideas for Homework: Find and email the teacher ten websites that have something to do with nature. (You can collect them all and send out a comprehensive list to the class.)

Modification for Lower Levels: If the level is so low that they’ll have trouble thinking of enough nouns, verbs, and adjectives related to the them; instead write down several yourself and play a game of hangman with them.

Then, have them just write down twenty nouns, verbs, and adjectives. In groups, they should circle the words that are related to nature and add to the lists if possible.

When you write the questions on the board, make sure to write sample answers next to them.

Only write five sample questions and five sample answers at a time. Instead of having them talk for 20 minutes, have them talk for five minutes. Review the questions as a class. Then write another five questions and another five sample answers on the board. Repeat for time.

Modification for Higher Levels: This should work fine for higher levels as is. Just make sure they’re using appropriately difficult vocabulary and grammar. If they’re not, cross the words out/don’t accept the question. Tell them they can do better.

Modification for Small Groups: It should be OK, but students will need to write on the same sheet of paper several times.

Modification for Private Lesson: It should be OK, but the student will have to write many vocab words and questions alone and you’ll have to keep the conversation going with good follow-up questions. Also, you’ll probably have to do the extension for time.

Modification for Different Themes: Change your example vocabulary and discussion questions to match your theme.

July 7, 2010 Posted by | Conversation Lesson Plans, Lesson Plans | , , , | Leave a comment