Teaching Adults English: The Art of Conversation


Even if you never thought of yourself as the English teacher type, there is a huge possibility that while you are getting your feet on the ground in your new home abroad you’ll start teaching English.  While there are lots of English academies where you could apply, if you are American, the waiting game could take as long as a year before your papers in order and are legally able to work. In the meantime, private English classes are a great way to earn some money and meet the locals.

To get started put up a simple sign in a cafe, the supermarket, by the bus stop, at the bakery, or at a local university; any place that lots of people will see it. Advertise that you are a native speaker and are willing to have classes at students home. Include your phone number or email and then simply wait for the call. Prepare your price range, charge a bit more if you will be traveling to student’s homes. You’ll get calls for classes with children, teens, and adults, so for today I’ll share a few of my tips for conversation classes with adults.

Many adult students are simply looking for conversation classes to improve their fluency as they already have a strong level. If you are teaching purely conversational classes keep up todate on the latest news. I’ve found that articles or stories from the weekly newspaper are a great way to get students to talk about general information or their opinions while keeping up on real vocabulary. I use BBC Learning English and Breaking News English. Full of great resources for English teachers both provide articles on lots of different news topics prepared with activities like vocabulary and comprehension questions ready for you to print and share. For general conversation, The Internet TESL Journal offers a list of topics with endless questions that you can use to guide conversation classes. Remember that you are there to teach not to dominate the conversation so ask your students lots of questions and remember the rules of conversation.


Conversation classes are a great way to get to know your new culture as well. Share anecdotes about your country and culture and in turn ask students to explain traditions, gastronomy or even local places to you. They love to share their world with you and soon enough you’ll find yourself an expert on the city with inside info on where to get the best coffee or the best day to visit the market. 

Any other tips to keep your students talking?

Besos, Dianne


4 thoughts on “Teaching Adults English: The Art of Conversation

  1. The visa process is sooo long! Hope this helps you out a bit! I never did get random calls, but be picky about where you post. Also, don’t go too far from your place so you are familiar with the area and public and won’t have to travel far. If you are still hesitant open a teaching email account and leave an email instead of your number. Good luck! Let me know how it goes!

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