What do learners of English want when they start learning English language? Of course they want to be able to communicate with others in English. In other words, they want to speak English fluently. Compelling Conversations – Questions & Quotations for Advance Vietnamese English language learners textbook does just that, helps learners of English to speak English fluently.
Compelling Conversations for Vietnamese English Language learners, as the name suggests, is a book specially created for Vietnamese learners of English to help them to improve their speaking skills. Compelling conversations is a high quality book from all points of view. The book contains 15 conversation topics (organized in 15 chapters) that truly stimulate conversation. As an English teacher in Vietnam, I know how difficult is for Vietnamese learners of English to have a group discussion in English.
A month ago (on October 2nd to be more exact) I had a private class (teenager students). I have downloaded one of the free chapters (chapter 3 – Being home) of Compelling conversations book. Before presenting the material to my students I told them that today we are going to talk about “my home”. I told them to think about questions they would like to ask their partners in order to get as many information as possible about their partners’ house. At the first view the topic seemed to be very easy but actually wasn’t. After several minutes of thinking about questions and trying to formulate correct questions, one student said: “Teacher! I really don’t know what I should ask about her home.” If you teach English in Vietnam then you probably experienced this kind of situation. After I presented the material everything transformed into a smooth and relaxing conversation.
The chapter I have chosen contained 15 predefined questions, accompanied by a list of recommended vocabulary to be used.
Not only this chapter but all chapters of Compelling Conversation contain predefined questions to get students talking from the first moment. Great resources such as reproducible worksheets for students, surveys etc. can be found in every chapter of the book. Throughout the book proverbs related to each topic are given to the students to discuss. This doesn’t do anything else but gives more opportunities to students to talk about the topic and use the recommended vocabulary.
The topics of the book are very accessible and students feel comfortable talking about these topics. Everything in the book encourages speaking and is created with student’s needs in mind.
The book encourages extra speaking practice between students by giving discussing quotations related to the topic. This means more speaking helping students to formulate answers and express thoughts.
Each chapter contains writing exercises that can be used in the classroom. Personally, I used these writing exercises at the beginning of the lesson since Vietnamese learners feel more comfortable writing first then speaking. Writing exercises from this book help them to formulate their ideas making speaking a smooth process.
Well, these are the main reasons why I think a book like Compelling Conversations is indispensable for any English teacher. Although I have been teaching English in Vietnam since 2008 I am still a learner of English and this article represents my honest thoughts regarding to Compelling Conversations book. More details about Compelling conversations can be found on the book’s website at http://compellingconversations.com/.