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Conversation classes for English majors at many universities are tough assignments. Survival is not much of a problem for teachers who have been around the track a few times and have filled a bag of tricks which includes a conversation course book. But just surviving, and knowing that's all your efforts amount to, can hurt. It helps to be thick skinned. More than a few teachers find failure in the conversation classroom confusing. There is often precious little conversation even when there is talk. Teachers and students usually agree that they want to have conversations in the classroom but this goal too often proves elusive. Some types of talk are relatively easily come by: teacher monologues, question and answer exchanges, readings of models, memorized dialogues, and students' own versions of model conversations which contain more examples of embarrassment than of natural spoken language. Frustration comes from the painful recognition that talk is cheap when it's a poor substitute for the target - natural conversation.
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