One of the greatest challenges facing ESL students is the advanced speaking class in which the most confident students dominate the discussion and the more reticent students quickly withdraw. Discussion Starters helps balance the oral participation of all the students in the class, promoting an environment in which everyone has not only the opportunity but a real need to speak out.
Each unit contains exercises that provide speaking interaction about a central topic or idea. In most of these activities, students must work together in pairs or small groups to reach a conclusion about a topic. The activities and tasks in Discussion Starters are real situations from all over the world. Contemporary political and social topics enable students to engage in lively dialogue about issues they face in their daily lives, such as smoking regulation, the environment, and multiculturalism. There is ample background material in the text to prepare students in advance for a discussion. Thus students can spend their class time speaking about and discussing topics rather than reading about them. A unique and important feature of this text is the inclusion of homework exercises that call on students to sort out their ideas and opinions before coming to class. This allows students to be prepared for the speaking activities in class and is of special importance to less confident speakers.