This one is for trainers and participants alike and that is what to discuss when it’s incredibly hot. One thing I have noticed about Germans is that they kind of stop functioning above 27 degrees, so as an Australian I tend to ease into topics, which are light on grammar but still offer some business related content.
Breaking News English offers a range of simple to talk about, current and relevant topics such as “A pilot buys 156 Pizzas for passengers” or “French restaurants to get a home made logo”. Make sure to choose the two page mini lesson plans, because any longer and you’ll find participants get bored with the topic. Also, try to choose topics that have some kind of business connection. E.g. from the first topic suggested here I can extrapolate discussion and ideas around ‘travel, buying, purchasing, customer service and loyalty’ and for the second ‘French culture, restaurants, eating out, favourite food and marketing’.
The Local.de also offers a range of interesting, localised news content but try to avoid sensitive political or religious based topics. Normally, I have a tablet at hand to search for images, words or translations I need in English or German, but I would also recommend an old fashioned translator that doesn’t depend on an internet connection.
The trick is to ask as many questions as you can about the content to your participants and to get them to speak as much as possible, correcting them where necessary. Sometimes, I also do something like a ‘List Manager’ exercise, whereby I ask a participant to write down all the interesting or new words that come out of an article and to create an example in context. Then I ask this person to present the list to the group at the beginning of the next session in the following week. This helps them to remember and store the words for future use. If they don’t know something as they present, ask them to check with other participants in the group and try to do as little speaking yourself as you can. Remember, you are a facilitator, not an attendee.
If you run out of ideas, The Internet TESL Journal offers a myriad of conversation topics with questions you can put to your groups or individual learners on a variety of different topics.
Enjoy, but remember – keep it light, not too hot and simple – when it’s hotter than 26 degrees.