Posted in Conversation Classes, Vocabulary Classes

Conversation Skills: Topic Nomination

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This is a conversation skills lesson for B2+ students. Students will learn ways to nominate topics and develop their turn-taking skills. First they will listen to native speakers having a conversation the analyse it for the language of topic nomination. Download the handouts and audio file below:

Topic Nomination Student’s handout

Topic Nomination Teacher’s version

Audio File


Students listen to two people having a conversation 3 times, they should answer the following questions:

1st listen (without transcript)

What topics do they talk about?


2nd listen (without transcript)

How do they nominate topic?


3rd listen (with transcript)


·         Phrases to nominate topic (Using the expressions in bold in the transcript)


Look for:

A phrase for agreeing – you can say that again

A phrase that means “I can’t go” – I’m not going to make it.

A phrasal verb that means “increase” put up

Another way of saying “why” how come

A phrasal verb that means “contribute some money” chip in

Another way of saying “it’s ok” now worries


A: Bit chilly today. Isn’t it?

B: You can say that again. It’s freezing in my house, I have to keep my jacket on inside!

A: I know, our place is the same. Our heating doesn’t work and the landlord won’t fix it!

B: That’s rubbish, speaking of landlords, ours is threatening to put the rent up again!

A: What a bastard! Why don’t you just move out?

B: We’re thinking about it, we could have a massive leaving party and trash the place!

A: Haha, go for it! I’ll come. Ooo that reminds me, are you going to Tony and Dave’s tonight?

B: Nah, I’m not going to make it, I have to work tomorrow.

A: On Saturday! How come?

B: We have to get everything ready for the big conference on Monday.

A: Rubbish.

B: I know. I’m free next weekend though.

A: Oh, before I forget, do you want to chip in for Fiona’s birthday present.

B: Yeah sure, how much do you need?

A: A tenner?

B: No problem. Hang on, while we’re on the subject of money, you owe me a tenner from the cinema last weekend.

A: Oh yeah, shit I forgot, sorry.

B: No worries, just put it towards Fiona’s present.

A: OK, no problem.

Students Practice Dialogue

Students use the transcript to practice the dialogue. Play close attention to word stress on some of the phrases “You can say THAT aGAIN”. First they practice with the script, then without, when they practice without, tell them not to worry about being word perfect, the focus should be more on the changes in topic.

Controlled Practice:

Put students in groups of 3-4 cut up and give out the topic cards below and distribute them evenly among the students. Then tell students that they are a group of friends meeting in a bar, they are going to have a conversation starting with the following sentence:

Bit chilly today, isn’t it?

Each member of the group must then try to steer the conversation towards one of the topics on their cards, every time they do this successfully they can place the corresponding card on the table in front of them, the winner is the first person to get rid of all their cards. Note, their topic changes must makes sense!

For example:

A: My son hurt his foot playing football.

B: Speaking of football, did you see the match last night?

Allow students a couple of false starts, feel free to mix groups up and play again.

The weather A recent football match A concert you’re going to


A dinner party you’re having An accident someone you know had A film you want to see
A TV program you’ve seen A story in the newspapers


A problem you have at home
Something you need to buy A friend who’s coming to visit


A favour you need to ask
Some romantic gossip you want to tell Something you want to complain about Your holiday future holiday plans


Students have a freer conversation about their weekend/holiday plans/current affairs and try to use the expressions to nominate topic.