Monday, 20 June 2011

Quotation-Based Conversation Classes

As we come to the end of the academic year, I've been reflecting on what's worked well in the classroom this year and what hasn't been so successful.  One of my better ideas was a series of conversation classes, each of which was based on a famous quotation.

The classes were extra to the students' regular courses and were open to those at intermediate level and above.  They were held weekly and lasted for 90 minutes.  Each week, I posted the quotation, along with who said it, on the notice board in advance of the class, giving students the opportunity to collect their thoughts about the subject to be discussed.  Quite often, students came to class having also researched the speaker, which added an extra dimension to the discussion.

Some of the quotations which led to the liveliest, most interesting conversations this year were:

  • ‘The limits of my language are the limits of my world.’                        Ludwig Wittgenstein, Austrian philosopher  
  • ‘I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, & then going away & doing the exact opposite.’                  G.K. Chesterton

  • ‘A true friend is someone who is there for you when he/she would prefer to be somewhere else.’                        Len Wein, American comic book writer

  • ‘Happiness is when what you think, what you say, & what you do are all in harmony.’                                                                    Mahatma Gandhi

  • ‘The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.’      St. Augustine

  • ‘I want to be the white man’s brother, not his brother-in-law.’             Martin Luther King

  • ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge.’        Albert Einstein

  • ‘A room without books is like a body without a soul.’                          Cicero, Roman orator & philosopher

  • ‘A life without love is like a year without summer.’     Swedish proverb

  • ‘Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt; sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth.’               Mark Twain

Those of you who use 'New English File' may well recognise some of these quotes from the pages of the student workbooks - this is where the original idea for the classes came from!

The pictures in this post came from this site, which is a great resource and which provided the posters to advertise this series of classes.

Obviously, the topic potential for this kind of lesson is limitless, and it's certainly an idea I'll be returning to when I move to my new school in the autumn.


  1. @AndreaBudding23 June 2011 at 01:30

    Great idea to get students talking and engaged! Would also work well as a blog page, wouldn't it?

    Thanks, look forward to reading more of your blog. :)

    Andrea Budding

  2. Thanks for the comment, Andrea. I like your idea of the blog page - I'll definitely give it a go!