Recursive practice


To speak a second language well, you need practice speaking it. Conversation practice in your classroom is a great place to practice and build your confidence.

Having several chances to talk about a topic is called recursive conversation practice. This is simply conversation practice with meaning. Since you are learning how to use English as a communication tool, practice conversations should communicate something meaningful.

Recursive practice is important because it gives you the opportunity to have several successive conversations in the same class period. This gives you a greater chance to apply almost immediately what you learned in one conversation. The conversations are similar, but since partners are different they are still meaningful. Again, this is the essence of recursive practice.

Assigning partners:
Of course, teachers can assign conversation partners in a number of ways. Students can find partners on their own once they get to know one another, but they may need some help early in a course. In small classes, teachers can ask students to number off, or they can hand out partner cards with matching numbers, or use match-up grids. One way to change conversation partners easily—even in large classes—is to use a class map (see below).

Teachers can ask students to move 1 or 2 spaces, in case there is a group of 3. Besides adjusting conversation time and frequency, you can adjust the "turns" of the chain and the direction(s) of movement (by redrawing arrows).