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“In my own teaching, I have found questions and quotations to be highly effective in promoting student discussion. Questions are useful in that they require a response from the listener. Asking them also helps students master the tricky rules of the interrogative. Quotations are brilliant flashes of wit expressed in the shortest space possible, often just a sentence or two. The authors have compiled a formidable collection of
quotations by famous people.
The authors also add some wise proverbs here and there. My two favourites were ‘Recite “patience” three times and it will spare you a murder’ and ‘When money talks, truth keeps silent,’ which are from Korea and Russia.
In sum, Compelling Conversations is a recommended resource for teachers who want to make their conversation classes more learner-centered. It should be especially appealing to those who wish to escape the confines of the Presentation-Practice-Production approach and do without a formal grammatical or functional syllabus. It reflects the authors’ considerable professional experience, and would be a notable addition to any English teacher’s bookshelf.”
English Teaching Professional magazine, January 2009
…should be on every ESL teacher’s bookshelf!
“Suitable for intermediate and above, Compelling Conversations has topics that will fit in with any lesson based on topics, or just as a stand-alone speaking lesson. The questions have been designed to build the conversation, taking the discussion to a deep level….Each topic has consistency of structure with the four sections, talking, vocabulary, sayings, continued conversation and quotations that fit with the topic. Overall, a book that should be on every ESL teacher’s bookshelf!”
Gramarye website, April 16, 2011
… high-stakes conversations
“Listening events are not difficult to set up. Ideas that have worked for me: values clarification exercises (see Hall Houston’s Provoking Thought, Chapter 4, for numerous ideas), watching emotional speeches (see americanrhetoric.com for some inspiring examples; check out the “Movie Speeches” for some great moments), and “high-stakes conversations” (see Eric H. Roth and Toni Aberson’s Compelling Conversations Section 1 for launchpad ideas).”
Author of Teaching and Listening Reseach (2nd Edition)
on A Teacher in Taoyuan blog (April 9, 2011)
… provides the basis for a learning environment
“Compelling Conversation- Vietnam: Speaking Exercises for Vietnamese Learners of Englishand Quotations on Timeless Topics, written by Eric H. Roth and Toni Aberson is a conversation and study guide for students of advanced courses in English as a Second Language (ESL). It provides a variety of interesting and intriguing topics which the class can feed from to help them become more comfortable with learning and speaking a new language easily and effortlessly with others, both in and out of the classroom.
Many students who take ESL classes fail to go beyond the basics in grammar, conversation and sentence structure, and comprehending the English language with all of its intricacies. The topics covered in the manual gently challenges students to push themselves into wanting to understand and comprehend even the most difficult of words and phrases.
What makes this book extremely useful is:
The fact that the student who utilize these conversation topics in a group setting will learn more than just language skills. Several references to history, famous speakers and writers are made in the many quotes used throughout the instructions.
The manual has, as the title suggests, a timelessness to its content. Ten years from now the subject matter used will still be pertinent. It is also arranged so that if further editions were published, the book would be very easy to update and enlarge. This book is meant to be used in a group setting. Not only will students learn new words but they will also be exposed to modern social skills and other intricacies of group dynamics. Students will be challenged by the many quotes in this book from famous personalities such as Mark Twain, Thomas Jefferson and Peter Drucker. Many of the sayings are not grammatically correct, opening up more discussion as to dialogue, proper wording, etc. If some of the quotes were actually grammatically correct, they would probably lose their meaning and impact – a great topic for students to discuss. Not only is the book based on American topics, there are also many writers, politicians, and famous people from other countries included such as Maxim Gorky (Russia), Albert Camus (France) and Baltasar Gracian (Spain), which will help students from other countries feel more comfortable in learning English.
Many of the questions and vocabulary words will help students in real life. Often English language courses consist of phrases and terminology that ordinary people will never use. Compelling Conversations does just the opposite – it provides the basis for a learning environment with tools that real people can actually utilize in real life and the real word. Yes, this book is for advanced ESL students but it is at level that all such individuals should strive to learn. It will escalate careers and relationships in the English-speaking world and that should be the goal for success-minded ESL students.”
… allows students to learn by speaking
“This outstanding resource allows teachers to confidently walk into an advanced ESL classroom with self-contained, engaging conversation lessons. The 45 thematic chapters allow you to both evoke student experience with long lists of practical and savvy questions.
The inclusion of global proverbs and classic quotations also provides larger cultural contexts to inspire deeper conversations – or writing assignments. Students should also appreciate the generous amount of authentic language. I wish I had this book in my old adult/university classes. A great book for adult education teachers, university instructors, and private tutors!”
Director/Founder of www.ESLHQ.com, August 2007
…The Language of Opportunity
“Dedicated to his father, Dani Roth—who spoke six languages and ‘could talk with almost anyone’—the book provides an alternative to ‘presentation-practice-production’ approach to language learning, instead using quotations, questions, and proverbs to prompt conversation.
‘Some [quotes and questions] will have students roaring with laughter, while others require careful introspection,’ wrote a reviewer (Hall Houston) for the ESL journal English Teaching Professional. ‘They are highly effective for promoting student discussion.’
‘In the classroom and in the book we try to create a space that’s tolerant and rigorous at the same time,’ Roth says.’“The focus is on learning by doing, and we want to give people room to make good mistakes—errors that help us learn. When people expect themselves to be perfect, they go silent.’
Most of the book’s prompts ask for recollections or personal opinions.
‘Whatever perspective you bring to the book, I want you to find validation in some great thinker, that it’s okay to see things that way. That gives us all the freedom to be ourselves and less of who we think we should be, or who we’ve been programmed or conditioned to be.’
Roth believes that the English language itself can be liberating.
‘Learning English can allow some to escape the prison of their national background. In many languages, the words are either masculine or feminine. English doesn’t do this. Much has been written about why English-speaking countries were the first of women’s rights; the language doesn’t discriminate against women structurally.’
Wabash College Magazine
Fall 2011 by Steve Charles
…helpful in lesson planning
“I recently received a copy of Compelling Conversations – Vietnam: Speaking Exercises for Vietnamese Learners of Englishand Quotations on Timeless Topicsby Eric Roth, a Weekly Tip subscriber who thought the book might be useful to other subscribers. It consists of 45 sections, each a common classroom topic, e.g., Eating and Drinking, Talking about Movies, and Crime and Punishment, and each unit is made up of a series of discussion questions, a short vocabulary task, a few proverbs, more questions and a list of quotations. The book is suited to intermediate students and up, useful to have on hand to help in the lesson planning process.”
Editor, Developing Teachers newsletter
Madrid, Spain – www.developingteachers.com newsletter 2/6/11
… easy to use
“America is a great land of opportunity. I am sure we all want to get ahead in this country. We want to find the type of employment that is suited for us. We wish to advance in the work world. We wish to make friends.
The best way to get ahead in the world is to speak the mother tongue of the country you are living in. In this case, we are talking about English. With so many ‘English as a Second Language’ courses being taught there is no excuse for not learning. The problem is, what book do you use to learn from?
Have you been looking for a good ESL manual? If you have, I think this [Compelling Conversations] is one to consider. The topics cover: Your Life, The Civic Life, along with the everyday aspects as dating, enjoying money, handling stress.
The editors put it together in an easy to use form. You have conversation starters such as, ‘How much time do you spend each week in cars? Why?'”
Dane Robert Swanson
Santa Monica Daily Press Book Review – January 16, 2009
“How can I keep a conversation going? What vocabulary words are needed? How do I show agreement, or disagreement, in a lively, yet polite way? How can I share my experiences in a clear manner? Allow your students to develop authentic, meaningful conversations in English and deepen their critical thinking skills with this amazing text! Offering hundreds of hours of material for compelling conversations, this one-of-a-kind book encourages learners to practice exchanging experiences and ideas in a natural style.”
ALTA Catalog – Fall 2007
Great resource for ESL teachers/tutors, August 22, 2011
By G. Chilla (Atlanta, GA) –
Compelling Conversations is one of my top teaching tools. I have been an ESL tutor of adults for over 3 years, and a classroom ESL instructor for over 4 years. I purchased this book 3 years ago and absolutely LOVE it, and use it daily with the students I tutor, and have also used it in my classroom settings as well. There are a wide range of topics, and the flow of the discussion questions is very natural and lends itself to great conversation. My students really look forward to the conversation section of our tutoring sessions, and have told me that with the chapters in this book, they always learn new words, idioms, and proverbs, in a very relaxed, natural way. I also like the fact that these conversations help to build our friendships too. I would HIGHLY recommend this book!!
Conversations with depth, heart and meaning!, March 1, 2012
By J. Heller
This satisfying book models and inspires conversations which impart respect, genuine interest, curiosity and individuality. It could easily be used as a source for improving any interpersonal relationship whether it be on the home front, in the work force or a myriad of encounters with people close or unfamiliar. What a gift for any student learning ESL, or for any person who wants to grow in his or her ability to communicate in a meaningful way. Thoughtful and impressive.
Outstanding for ESL and more, December 21, 2008
By P. Schulze (Seattle) –
I cannot praise this book enough. It is an outstanding resource for producing natural, flowing conversations.
The students I tutor are well educated adults, rich in culture and experiences. This book allows them to produce natural conversations using what is most intimate to them: their lives and their culture. The result of these conversations is far beyond “speaking English.” I am learning and connecting with my students on a level that helps me identify their desires and needs based on their responses to the questions. Heinz Pagels, the late American physicist, said: “It seems obvious to me that if you want to understand a spoken language, you ought to study the people who speak it and speak it well.” That is the connection I feel to teaching ESL when using this book. As a tutor, I too am sharing my culture and experiences and it enhances the learning process. There are many chapters in this book that can create compelling conversations outside of the ESL environment. If my parents were still living I would use “Describing Family Ties” to learn all those things I wondered about them but never asked. If I were exploring a possible relationship, using “Exploring Daily Habits” could be very insightful. The authors have my deepest respect and gratitude for this outstanding resource.
And thank you Amazon for bringing the book to my attention!
Amazing for private tutoring, December 12, 2008
By Hollie (California, USA) –
I tutor several girls from Asian countries, and this book is a great way to get them working on pronunciation and exposing them to American concepts. It’s the best conversationalist book I’ve found.
A wholesome learning resource!, December 4, 2008
By Erika Villafane “Erika” (Miami, Florida USA) –
When Compelling Conversations got into my hands I couldn’t help but to think: I wish I had this book when I was learning English!
As English as a second language speaker, I can really tell the difference that Compelling Conversations has with other ESL text books: topics richness that takes learning at a higher level.
Not only you will feel motivated to improve your language skills, but you will have a rich-provoking theme about life to discuss and share with your tutor or classmates. That in turn makes you grow personally and you certainly will remember the discussed matter here when need it to apply into a situation out of the classroom. You will appreciate American culture as well as other’s point of view.
The book is very well structured into four sections totaling 45 chapters. Each one of them is organized into conversations starters followed by vocabulary, proverbs and the indispensable quotations. One that really caught my attention was the Arab proverb “he who has health has hope and he who has hope has everything.”
I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn while enjoying the process.