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Activity Five: Keeping or Killing the Conversation The following exercises are adapted from Activity Five in Conversational

Strategies by David Kehe and Peggy Dustin Kehe. Copies of this book are available on the ESL shelves at the Pleasanton Library. Teacher’s introduction to lesson: Sometimes you are asked a question that you cannot or do not want to answer. For example, I might ask you, “What are you going to do this weekend?” If you say, “I don’t know,” you have killed the conversation. To keep the conversation going, you could say, “I’m not sure. What are you going to do this weekend?” In this activity, we will practice a technique and some expressions you can use to keep a conversation going, even if someone asks you a difficult question or an embarrassing question. Sometimes you may want to end the conversation or change the topic. Some of the phrases in this lesson can be used to end or change a conversation. Keepers The following questions may be used to continue or keep a conversation going. What do you think? How do you feel? How about you? What about you? Killers The following sentences may be used when you wish to end a conversation because someone has asked you a question you don’t wish to answer or don’t know the answer to. I don’t really know. That’s a good question. I’m not sure. I have no idea. I’d have to think about that. Umm, I’d rather not say.

Introductory Exercise
Use words from the previous list of “keepers” and “killers” to answer the following questions: 1. Use a “killer” to discontinue this conversation when you don’t have an answer: Student A: What are you planning to do next weekend? Student B: I don’t _____________________ know. 2. Use a “keeper” to continue the conversation, even if you don’t have an answer: Student A: What are you planning to do next weekend? Student B: I’m not _________________. What about __________? Student A: I’m thinking of going to the beach. 3. When you won’t wish to answer, use a “killer” to discontinue the conversation: Student B: How old are you? Student C: Umm, I’d ______________ not say. 4. When you don’t wish to answer, but you want to keep the conversation going, use a “keeper”: Student B: How old are you? Student C: That’s a good _________________. How ______________ you? Student B: I’m 48. But I think you’re younger than I am. 5. When the question is too difficult or you don’t have an opinion to share, use a “killer” to discontinue the conversation: Student C: Don’t you think there are too many problems with nuclear power? Student A: I’m not __________. 6. When the question is difficult but you want to continue the conversation, use a “keeper”: Student C: Don’t you think there are too many problems with nuclear power? Student A: I would have to __________. _________ do you think? Student C: I think it is dangerous and expensive. 7. When you don’t want to answer, use a “killer” to discontinue the conversation: Student A: How do you feel about our teacher? Student B: Umm, I’d ______________ not say. 8. When you don’t want to answer, but want to encourage the conversation, use a “keeper”: Student A: How do you feel about our teacher? Student B: That’s a good _______________. How _____________?

Additional Exercise
Student A: Ask student B the first question of the following questions. Then, answer student B’s question. Continue alternating back and forth. Use words from the previous list of “keepers” and “killers” to answer the questions. 1. 2. 3. 4. What’s the best age to get married? What are you going to do during your next vacation? Who do you think is the greatest writer in the world? Which city is the most beautiful in the world?

Now, write two new questions in the space below. Take turns asking and answering these questions, practicing the “killers” and “keepers” phrases and sentences.

Student B: Answer student A’s first question. Then ask student A the first question of the following questions. Continue alternating back and forth. Use words from the previous list of “keepers” and “killers” to answer the questions. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. What is the best sport for staying healthy? Do you like my hair style? Where do you prefer to live: in a city or in the countryside? Do you think there will be a big war soon? How many children should a married couple have? How much to you weigh?

Now, write two new questions in the space below. Take turns asking and answering these questions, practicing the “killers” and “keepers” phrases and sentences.

Student C: The tutor will ask you the following questions. Use words from the previous list of “keepers” and “killers” to answer the questions. 1. 2. 3. 4. Don’t you wish you were in university again? What’s a good way to improve our English? What type of job do you want to have in the future? What’s the biggest problem in the world today?

Now, write two new questions in the space below. Take turns asking and answering these questions, practicing the “killers” and “keepers” phrases and sentences.