AESL 545 is the advanced level conversation course in Irvine Valley College’s Adult ESL program. This course is designed to help students maintain and develop conversations on a variety of practical topics pertaining to daily life.

In most conversation classes, students are bound by a limited number of topics, predetermined by mass-produced published textbooks. Instead of limiting the students’ choices, I build this course to be more accessible with a Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC), and instead put the impetus of learning and developing ideas on the students based on their own personal interests.

In small groups, students discuss what topics they struggle with in English, or what they want to learn how to talk about, and then they are tasked to find resources that explain an aspect of that topic. Group members then share the resources with each other, and decide on one guiding source to help them “center” their learning.

Having students build their own units together as a group helps them to learn to talk about and share their learning as they are going through it, flipping the class from passive regurgitation of pre-developed scripts, to active development of new and directly impactful English.

Students then share what they have learned with other classmates, cementing the topics and the skills they have developed while introducing the topics to people who may be new to the ideas.

AESL 545 gives students the opportunity to negotiate in English on a meta-level, explaining and discussing the conversations they want to have as they are manipulating English in order to make sure they are communicating clearly.