Part Two: Open Versus Close-ended Questions


If you are lucky enough to have ESP (Extra Sensory Perception) or the ability to read other people's minds, you need not ask questions. But the majority of the population has no such powers. So, we endeavor to discover what is going on in the minds of others.


Open questions usually use the "Ws": Who, Where, When, What, Why, and Which…

There are also the "Hs": How often, much, many, easy, difficult, fun, and so on…

Closed questions usually receive yes and no answers.

They begin with the verbs "be" and "do"… How interesting to have such conversations:


A: "Do you have a job?"

B: "Yes, and you?"

A: "Yes."


Open questions look to the heart of the person:


A: When did you get your first job?

B: I've never had a job. Can you believe it?

A: Almost no… If I may ask, how did you make a living?


It doesn't take rocket science to know that conversation begs for open-ended questions.


1) Do you ever listen to interviews? What kind? Where? How often?


2) What's the difference between a "sports" interview and others?


3) If I interview you right now, would you be nervous? Why or why not?


4) Who would you interview if you could? What would you ask?


5) Describe the way you converse with a good friend, a spouse, your children?


~ Part Three: Topic 1  ~


1) What are some of your favorite topics of conversation (movies, family, sports) Why?

I really like talking about personal stories. They may be about places people have lived,

they may be about good or bad times people have been through, they may be about

pivotal moments or experiences that set someone (anyone) on a new life course.

I guess I like talking about the things that really matter to people.


2) What makes someone easy to talk to? Difficult to talk to? Is it personality?

People who enjoy their lives are easy to talk to. People who don’t often shy away.

Perhaps studying a foreign language can open people up to new communication.

Perhaps people can express themselves differently in another language.


3) Have you ever had a conversation with a stranger or a traveler? About what?

The most memorable discussion was with Moroccan nomads. I was there with an NGO.

We were building wells and solar structures. I had the privilege to converse with the elders.


4) Who do you argue with? What about? How long? Do you usually win?

I rarely argue. I consider argument a last resort… But it’s sometimes necessary.

Yet, My children rarely listen to me. We mostly argue about their future. No one wins.


5) What's the difference between phone and face-to-face conversations? Explain.

I have to use the phone to talk to the people far from me. I’d much rather be with them.

The longer you are away from someone, the more distant they become. Phones don’t help.


6) How are your conversations with women different from those with men?

With the Me Too movement, everything has changed. My view is that the differences

between men and women are different in each society. All genders are becoming more aware.


7) Does alcohol improve or impede your conversational skills? Explain.

Case by case… It depends on the company you keep. Moderation is the key element.

There is a tipping point where jovial chat may turn into unnecessary argument and worse.


8) Do you have good conversations with your family? relatives? in-laws? Explain.

My best conversations were with my eldest sister. She knows most of our family history.

Yet, our political and social opinions are in opposition. I’m afraid we can’t remain friends.


9) What famous people (past/present) would you like to talk to? About what?

I’d like to hang out with Marco Polo, Einstein, Albert Schwitzer, Marie Curie, Rumi,

Ghandi, Cleopatra, John Coltrane, Obama, and Confucius and talk about climate change.


10) Talk about a really good conversation you had recently. Who with? What about?

Recently I talked with my younger sister. It was good to reconnect. I hadn’t been in touch

with her for a long time. I guess she’s back on her feet now. Remarried. She sounds good.




~ Food for Thought ~ Topic 9 ~ Conversation ~ Explore the Topic ~


Nonverbal Communication




How to Avoid Boring Conversation




How to Make Conversation After Arguments




Tips for Keeping a Conversation Going





As far as playing jazz, no other art form, other than conversation, can give the satisfaction

of spontaneous interaction. —Stan Getz


Conversation would be vastly improved by the constant use of four simple words: I do not know. 

Andre Maurois


Two monologues do not make a dialogue. Jeff Daly


Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of a witness. 

Margaret Millar


Even a fish wouldn't get into trouble if he kept his mouth shut. Anonymous


It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.—Yogi Berra


Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other,

so we can have some conversation.

 —Mark Twain


Marriage is one long conversation, checkered by disputes. —Robert Louis Stevenson 


~ Yes… That it is…  But would you have it otherwise?  TSB ~

Lesson Procedures/Suggestions for Lessons


Part One: Diary ~ Write in your book or manage in your mind ~


Prepare for each class with a Diary ~ Thoughts, Notes, Stories… as you like ~

Think about or Write a memory from your (recent) past, about your daily routines, or about your future...

Any idea or any time… It could be about your family, friends, a song, a meal, a movie, a painful experience, a fun event, a book, internet content, childhood, future goals, news, social issues, etc.

Then present it at the beginning of class.


Part Two: Discuss a Topic


1) Read the passage as a class. Teacher first. Taking turns with sentences. Or any other method.

2) As a class, in groups, or in pairs, discuss the questions. Take equal turns. Encourage others. 

3) Ask questions and share ideas in conversation. Make and Give opinions. Be positive but critical.


Part Three: Dialogue Discussion


1) There are ten questions with sample answers. Sample answers are given as models.

2) As a class, in groups, or in pairs, select the questions youd like to talk about. 

3) Ask questions and share ideas in conversation. Take notes. Take equal turns.


Explore the possibilities. Use the web. Make your own questions. Take equal turns.




~ Topic 2-1 ~ Conversation ~ Questions for Conversation ~

Honor your mistakes, they will lead to learning...

Through this learning, more mistakes will be made…

Through this process, mistakes are no longer mistakes…

They become the act of learning.





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