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Compelling Conversations

Compelling Conversations

5.0 2
by Eric H Roth

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This innovative ESL/EFL textbook helps advanced English language learners develop conversation skills and improve fluency by sharing experiences, reflecting on their lives, and discussing quotations. The fluency-focused English textbook for advanced English language learners includes 45 thematic chapters, over 1,350 questions, 500 vocabulary words, 250 proverbs and


This innovative ESL/EFL textbook helps advanced English language learners develop conversation skills and improve fluency by sharing experiences, reflecting on their lives, and discussing quotations. The fluency-focused English textbook for advanced English language learners includes 45 thematic chapters, over 1,350 questions, 500 vocabulary words, 250 proverbs and American idioms, and 500 quotations. Designed for adult education, international college, and intensive English language students, the conversations and activities deepen critical thinking skills and develop speaking skills essential to success in community college and university programs. Compelling Conversations has been used in classrooms in over 50 countries, recommended by English Teaching Professional magazine, adopted by conversation clubs and private English tutors, and enjoyed by thousands of English students.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
...highly effective

"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."

Hal Houston
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 american rhetoric.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)."

Michael Rost
Author of Teaching and Listening Reseach (2nd Edition)
on A Teacher in Taoyuan blog (April 9, 2011)

...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...

'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

Product Details

Chimayo Press
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
7.90(w) x 9.70(h) x 0.40(d)

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Meet the Author

Eric H. Roth teaches international graduate students the pleasures and perils of academic writing and public speaking in English at the University of Southern California (USC), and holds the title of "Master Lecturer". He also consults English language schools on communicative methods to effectively teach English, and writes and edits ESL/EFL books for English language learners with Chimayo Press.

Given a full scholarship as a Lilly Scholar, Roth studied philosophy and American history at Wabash College (1980-1984), and received his M.A. in Media Studies from the New School (1988). Since 1992, Roth has taught English to high school, community college, adult, and university students. Highlights of his career include: teaching the first Saturday morning citizenship class in Santa Monica (1994); directing the CES Adult Education Center (1995-1998); working with international students in summer IEP programs at UCLA Extension (1997-2000, 2003-2005); teaching USC engineering students in Madrid, Spain (2007) and Paris, France (2008); and directing the APU International High School in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (2009). USC promoted Roth to the title of Master Lecturer in 2013.

Roth co-authored Compelling Conversations: Questions and Quotations on Timeless Topics in 2006 to help English language learners increase their English fluency. Recommended by English Teaching Professional magazine, the advanced ESL textbook has been used in over 50 countries in English classrooms and conversation clubs. Easy English Times, an adult literacy newspaper, has published a monthly column, "Instant Conversation Activities," based on the book since 2008. The first specific version for a particular country, Vietnam, was published in 2011. Compelling American Conversations: Questions and Quotations for American English Language Learners , designed to help American immigrants develop both academic vocabulary and strengthen speaking skills in English, came out in 2012.

A member of the USC faculty since 2003, Roth is a member of numerous professional organizations including: California Association of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CATESOL); the International Communication Association (ICA); the International Professors Project (IPP); and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Roth has given several CATESOL and TESOL conference presentations and led many English teacher training workshops. He writes short reflective essays, reviews ESL/EFL related books and apps, and shares teaching tips at CompellingConversations.com/blog.

Roth looks forward to learning something new today, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow.

After 35 years of teaching English and supervising English teachers, Toni Aberson (M.A. English; M.A. Psychology and Religion) believes that a lively classroom is the optimal learning environment.

"If people are thinking, sharing, and laughing, then they're learning," notes Aberson. "The mere fact that those adults are in an English classroom attests to their courage and their determination to learn."

"Adult English students bring a wealth of interesting experiences with them," continues Aberson. "They bring the world into the classroom. The challenge for English teachers is to put students at ease and encourage them to practice English. What better way than to ask students about their lives? I love teaching English."

Aberson wrote It's a Breeze: 42 Lively ESL Lessons on American Idioms (2012). This collection of 42 short English lessons focuses on specific American idioms and common phrases. The thematic chapters are organized into seven categories: Let's Get Started, Fun with Food, Body Language, Animal Wisdom, Colorful Language, How's the Weather?, and Where Are You?. Each concise self-contained chapter explores a single American idiom with clear definitions, sample sentences, short readings, comprehension checks, vocabulary lists, writing activities, and conversation questions for adult students.

"The key in a classroom is engagement," Aberson says, "and English students become interested and excited when they're learning about the daily stuff of life. When they are thinking and writing and talking about their real lives-food, jobs, family, homes, sports, movies-that's when they learn the language. Learning English is not easy. It can be a real challenge, but it can also be fun and stimulating. That's what I'm aiming for-the real life and the fun that stimulates ESL students so they want to learn more. They want to jump in."

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Compelling Conversations 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Lucienne46 More than 1 year ago
I use Compelling Conversations for tutoring advanced level students who need to work on fluency and vocabulary. The lessons go by quickly because of the fascinating other topics that are brought up prompted by the variety of questions in each chapter. The quotes are something to think about for the teacher as well. Because we are in LA, a favorite topic of discussion is driving and car culture! I highly recommend this book to English teachers and tutors to make long hours seem a lot shorter!