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A Cup Of Conversation

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I use this activity as a warm-up for each conversation class with my students. It can be used with beginner and advanced levels.

I write (or type)1 question per student on separate slips of paper. I put the slips of paper into a coffee cup hence, a Cup of Conversation! Then I walk around to each student and he/she picks a slip of paper from the cup. They read the question, find a partner and talk to each other for 5 minutes. The time can be flexible as I have done it for 3 minutes and also for 10 minutes. However, I keep an eye on the clock and when I say time is up, it's up. I collect the questions and save them for use later on. Then I begin my lesson for the day. If I do it for longer then 5 minutes (eg: 10 minutes) I have the students switch questions with their partners and/or switch partners.

When I first introduced the Cup of Conversation I had to put the students into pairs. Now, as soon as they arrive in class they ask for the Cup of Conversation and find their own partners. If they finish a bit early they mix themselves up too!

I find this activity is a great ice-breaker at the beginning of the semester. As time goes by the students get closer and become interested in learning about each other, cultures, thoughts and experiences, etc. Therefore, it is beneficial for group cohesion and comfort. The students get excited about being able to talk, ask questions and be noisy, all before the lesson begins. This is always a good thing for conversation class!

I make up the questions myself and I also look at the Internet TESL Journal's section on Conversation Questions. There are hundreds of questions in several different categories to choose from. For example, "what if..." and "family" and "health and fitness" and "hometowns".

I hope you and your students will enjoy a Cup of Conversation. Good luck!

Ontario, Canada

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