Making Conversation

by Kevin Burns
(Tokyo, Japan)

A Review of the book, Making Conversation by John Foster

Making Conversation is a handy book of conversation topics for ESL/EFL teachers to use while teaching their classes.

I think all teachers at times, will admit to a lack of ideas of what to do next in their classes.

Making Conversation fills a valuable need: Teacher tested materials that work with Japanese learners, and probably most learners around the world.

I know the author, John Foster. We both attended UBC and became friends while there. Foster is an engaging man, with a very creative mind. His book reflects this.

I love ideas that are “outside the box.” Then, if you do not want a run of the mill textbook, but one full of captivating, absorbing topics, I recommend Fosters book.

I am using this book at a university I teach at in Japan and at Kevin`s English Schools (my own). I feel it works well, depending on the topic, with advanced students at universities in Japan. At an English school, you should be able to find engaging topics for elementary level to advanced levels from young adults to older students.

Foster is curious about a wide variety of things and he seems to have assembled some of his own ideas, as well as some ideas for discussion from the latest and best blogs on the internet. This is a positive. I feel his book is somewhat cutting edge, as a result of this research. I haven`t found many books like Foster`s in English teaching thus far. Foster is familiar with people from philosophers to self-help gurus, and their quotes are sprinkled throughout the book,lending it even more of a “real world” feel. I`m confident your students will enjoy studying with Making Conversation.

Some of the conversation topics range from:
What makes you, who you are? to Give a two minute talk on
_________________. (You choose the word you will lecture on.) i.e.) bananas For the tongue tied, Foster includes many example questions you can ask yourself to get students talking.

I hope Foster will write more books for English teaching! We need him, and the David Martin`s of the world!

Many units in Foster`s ook include a helpful vocabulary section and discussion questions. I am using them as ready-made mini lessons, and they have worked well in my classes.

He writes that he gathered material for the book from his experiences of teaching in Japan between 2007-11 and the book shows the large amount of work he has put into it.

I enjoy using Making Conversation and trying out each new lesson idea. If you are a teacher like me, who does not simply stick to the tried and boring true, but likes to tinker and experiment, then Foster`s book make well go down like a great cup of smooth macha tea!

Highly recommended for adventurous, creative teachers!

Making Conversation is available here:

Buy the book at Lulu!/a>


Jun 19, 2017

Calling all conversation instructors / coaches NEW
by: John Foster

Kevin – Thanks so much for your kinds words.

I have an inventory of books here in Tokyo. For ¥2500 I’ll mail you a copy within Japan. Contact me at: fortune8[at]

Sample topics? Sure. Fire me an email and I’ll send you some.

Most topics have supporting links – extra readings, articles or videos. You can find them here.

As well, the book can be purchased online at

About kintaro63

Writer and teacher in Japan
This entry was posted in Books and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s