Convo Cards are all about scaffolding students' vocabulary during conversations.
Students often get very nervous when they are asked to speak in a second language. Heck, many of them get nervous speaking their own language in front of their peers!
The simple Convo Cards combine images, text, and translations to help build confidence in the students' second language.
Think of them like cheatsheets.
They are NOT meant to be vocabulary lists for students to memorize.
How to Use
Before a conversation task, I will hand out a copy of the applicable Convo Card. We will go over all of the options so that students know where to find what they may need. They are free to make any notes on the paper to make them easier to understand.
I will then have them fold them so they can glue them into their composition books. I have a whole section dedicated to vocabulary and that's where I have them glue it in.
When it's time to have a conversation, either between me and the class or between pairs of students, students can access their applicable Convo Card so they have ready access to common vocabulary they may need.
If any new vocabulary comes up, I'll write it on the board and students can add it to the paper.
When to Use
I generally do two types of conversation activities with my students: class conversations and paired conversations.
My main conversation activity is the class conversations. On our conversation day, I will have a question of the day that I will ask each student. They are free to use the applicable Convo Card if there is one (not all conversations lend themselves to Convo Cards).
Just like in real life, I will have a small-talk conversation with the student, asking questions, delving deeper, and then asking the class about the conversation we just heard. This includes the class in what is essentially a two-person conversation.
I will continue until I have spoken with each student in the class.
This is my main conversation activity because I can control the conversation, keep it in bounds, and fix any grammatical or syntax errors repeating back the answers correctly.
It's not often, but sometimes, I will have students have conversations with partners. I mainly do this as a sub activity using interview questions that students have to write down the answers from their peers.
The reason I do not do this conversation activity very often is because of the "garbage-in, garbage-out" idea. Babies do not learn language from each other. They learn it by listening to a more competent speaker, one who is sympathetic to their abilities and works hard to make meaning. That does not happen in student pairs. Rarely is one student that much more competent than the other and almost never are they sympathetic to their partner's abilities. It often just allows for bad language to be spoken and possibly acquired by the other student, even if only in small chunks.
Conversations are so integral to what I do in my classroom and Convo Cards help me scaffold this activity when necessary.
I hope you find them useful in your classroom as well!
If so, please let us know how you are using them in the comments below!