English conversation is vital in an ESL, or English as a Second Language, class because students tend to prioritize the ability to converse in a language above the ability to read, write or understand grammar. ESL students need to learn to read, write, listen and speak English, but speaking is actually the most difficult to learn because of its reliance on real-time comprehension and access to vocabulary.
Techniques for teaching conversational ESL skills include separating conversational topics from the actual skills. If students are assigned topics and even opinions, they don't have to think about the content of what they want to say as much and are able to focus on how to say it.
ESL teachers should also avoid talking as much as possible. Students may feel intimidated by the teacher's absolute command of English and perfect accent and therefore withdraw and find themselves uncomfortable conversing. Students should control 70 percent of the conversation in an ESL class. Teachers should refrain from interrupting to make corrections and should instead wait until the conversation is over to discuss grammatical or vocabulary errors. Classroom activities should be designed around conversation, with worksheets or language labs used as homework instead. Learning conversational English is a skill that requires as much practice as possible.