What is the difference between general English and conversation classes?
Find our which one is better for you: general English or conversational English course.
General English vs conversation classes
One of the most common questions asked by our students registering for English courses is the one about the difference between general English courses and English conversation classes.
The short answer is: general English classes cover reading, writing, listening and speaking as well as grammar and vocabulary. Conversation classes focus on speaking and listening skills in everyday communication.
General English vs English conversation classes
In addition to general English and exam preparation courses, Link School of English offers regular English conversation classes. All of our courses help students improve their speaking through a range of communicative activities. However, conversation classes place the most emphasis on speaking and offer a unique experience for learners of English. They are usually built around a specific theme or topic which students discuss in pairs or as a group. This may sound like something you have done at an English class before. What are the main differences?
The most obvious difference between general English and conversation classes is that our general English courses have a textbook. While these courses involve a range of activities in addition to textbook material, they are still structured around the topics covered in the course book. Conversation classes do not have a textbook. Instead, material from a variety of different sources is used, often focusing on current events as well as topics of more general interest. The lack of textbook means that there is more flexibility to the content of these classes. If a teacher knows the class well, he or she might try to gauge the interests of that particular group and let it inform the lesson topics.
Lesson format and teachers
As well as varying the lesson material, conversation classes may sometimes have several different teachers. For example, in our intensive English conversation course, students can expect to work with two or three different teachers each week. Each teacher brings his or her own experience and interests to the class, giving students exposure to several different models of the language and perspectives on life. General English courses may also have more than one teacher, but the course structure ensures a sense of continuity. Thanks to having lessons with more than one teacher students improve their listening skills faster and are more able to understand strangers in conversation.
Because our general English courses use a textbook, each lesson usually has a grammar point or set of vocabulary as a key focus. In conversation classes, it is more likely that questions on grammar or vocabulary will be addressed as they arise. Perhaps a good way of saying it is that we don’t teach you grammar in conversation class, we just help you with grammar and error correction. While the classes do usually have some key topic vocabulary, it is less predictable than in general English. The vocabulary that students learn in class largely depends on what they want to say. General English classes have more of a written component than conversation classes, and students are given homework after every lesson.
Atmosphere and class dynamics
All of our courses are taught in a friendly and supportive environment. But because conversation classes don’t involve as many grammar or other written exercises as general English, they have a more relaxed, sociable atmosphere. This doesn’t mean that the classes are easy. Students should be prepared to give their opinions on various topics, learn new things, get to know their classmates and support each other in the shared goal of learning to speak English. It is also more likely that controversial topics will come up in these classes, although students won’t have to talk about anything taboo if they don’t want to.
So which one should I choose, general English or conversation classes?
Choose based on your learning style
It partly depends on your learning style as well as your current English language skills. Some English learners thrive in a classroom environment with a systematic approach to the language. Others prefer to “have a go” and learn from experience. Some students may have studied English in the past and want to improve their fluency. These students might find that the grammar they studied in school only becomes clear in their minds when they are forced to use it in conversation.
Choose based on the skills you need to improve
If you want to improve your skills in writing, reading, speaking and pronunciation, you should probably enrol in a general English course. But you’re more likely to learn and remember English if you put it to use – which is what the conversation classes get students to do. If you don’t have much opportunity to use English in your everyday life, or if you want a chance to practice the language that you are learning on your general English course, then conversation classes are ideal for you. And remember, you can also have a combination course where you attend both, conversational English and general English lessons.
You may be also interested in:
– Find out more about general English courses at Link School of English
– Find out more about conversation classes at Link School of English
– How to make the most of your part-time English course