In the fast-paced Pop Topics ESL conversation setup, students only discuss topics for a short time before switching to another.
You will need a list of suitable topics for the students to discuss (see Target Language), that you can present one at a time. If you have a projector and an Internet connection, try using our Conversation Topic Generator.
If not, prepare a slideshow, or a list that you can read/write on the board. Or if you’re feeling confident, you could also just make them up on the spot.
Divide the class into groups of two, three or four.
- Present the students with a conversation topic.
- The students discuss this topic in their group for an allotted time. They must keep the conversation going and avoid any long pauses/silence!
- The right amount of time will depend on your group and your topics, but a good guide is one minute for beginner, two minutes for intermediate and three minutes for advanced levels.
- After the allotted time is up, stop the discussion and repeat with a new conversation topic.
The Pop Topics ESL conversation activity is a fast-paced technique that can work great as a warmer or time-filler, or as part of the main class. The frequent changes in topic really help to keep students alert and the conversation fresh. It’s also good for students who have a short attention span or who get bored in long discussions.
You can adapt the topics to any level or grammar/vocabulary topic appropriate to your class. These could range from simple questions about personal experiences, plans and preferences, to more complex grammar (e.g. second conditional What would you do... questions) or discussion questions on a particular vocabulary topic. You can find many examples on our Conversation Topic Generator.
For an extra element to keep students interested, Pop Topics is often combined with Inner Circle Outer Circle. Here, the students move and change conversation partners after each topic.
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