Book review: Conversation Strategies & Discussion Strategies.

One of the things that’s possibly more difficult about teaching English in Korea compared to other places is having normal flowing, ‘shooting the breeze’ type conversations. I’ve tried lots of different things to try and improve this in my school including buying this book and it’s companion ‘Discussion Strategies’ by David Kehe and Peggy Kehe:

csnew

The two books cover similar material but the Conversation Strategies one is a bit easier. I’d say Conversation Strategies is intermediate to post-intermediate level while Discussion Strategies is solidly post intermediate. They work on conversation skills like asking for more information, follow up questions, clarifications, and keeping up or killing conversations.

Pros

+ The book covers things that I haven’t seen in other textbooks. I never realised that my pupils didn’t know how to say “Could you say that again please?” until I taught this book.

+ The production stages for each chapter seem particularly well done. A neat touch is that questions will often have a key word blanked out so that the pupils can make the questions interesting to them. E.g. ‘Do you think you’ll _______________________ within the next five days?’ could be made into all sorts of questions.

+ The lessons fit really nicely into my 40-50 minute classes.

+ There are lots of interesting questions so lots of talking happens. It’s really fun.

Cons

  • This book is more of a companion book than a new course. The pupils will learn some useful things but it teaches a niche area.
  • It looks really boring, it shouldn’t be important but it’s nice to have a book that’s visually engaging for pupils.
  • It’s quite skittish and jumps around to different topics. What I’ve ended up doing is teaching the easier chapter in Conversation Strategies and then finding the harder version in Discussion Strategies and teaching that. If I didn’t I don’t think we would be able to practice enough.

Conclusion and links
On the whole I’d really reccomend this book if you’re looking to help your pupils have better conversations. I’d give it a 4.5/5.

You can find more information and a sample chapter here.