Episode 27: Conversation Groups

Conversation Groups
Mountain Beauty in The American West

Conversation Groups are a great way to improve English proficiency.  Let’s talk about to legendary train called the Southwest Chief as it takes us into this iconic western country.

Westward HO! We’re headed into the American West again, riding the Southwest Chief into Santa Fe.  Pretend you’re on the historic Santa Fe Trail, or aboard the legendary Super Chief of the Santa Fe Railroad, or travel in com fort and style aboard Amtrak’s Southwest Chief. You may find yourself in a conversation in the viewing car – yes, a conversation in English!  This episode features some ideas for participating in conversation groups.  What would you talk about? Trains, of course!  Watch the whole episode by clicking on Episode 27.

View By Segment:

Segment 1

Watch Segment 2

View Segment 3

Language Objectives

Describe a familiar object (picture). Use interrogatives to ask questions about a topic of conversation. Express an opinion about a familiar topic.  Invite participation and opinions in a conversation. Ask clarifying questions.

Content Objectives

Recall information about trains and railroads.

Conversation Groups: As a cable TV and web-based program, Ramping Up your English is a great support for those who want to improve their English.  We mostly address listening skills, but we also reach into the language modes of reading and writing. While an excellent way of improving language skills in these areas, I recognize that we’re short on speaking skills.

Speaking Skills

In this episode, I give recommendations for joining a conversation group.  I demonstrated how pictures can serve to spark conversation. Pictures about trains and railroads would be especially helpful to viewers of this unit.  I showed pictures I had cut out from National Geographic Magazines.

Forming a Conversation Group

If you know people who watch Ramping Up your English, I suggest forming a conversation group with them.  A group could be as few as 2 people, and should get bigger than 8. If you’re fortunate enough to find one, please don’t be shy.  Get right in there and open you mouth, and make your mistakes. You’ll learn from them and you’ll find yourself looking forward to your meeting.  You’ll also see the time fly as you get better and better at speaking English.2008 3-08 to 6-08 13

Groups in Southern Oregon: English conversation groups meet at the Medford library.  Due to COVID19 shutdowns, this program is inactive, as is the link that follows. We’ll have to see if it becomes active again when the pandemic is under control. Meanwhile, I’ll see if I can I can find groups available on Zoom. For online conversation, there’s a group that meets online via Zoom. The Spring 2021 class is full, but you can register for Summer. Click here to go to the homepage. Click here to find more information. Also, contact Rogue Community College in Medford and Grants Pass or Southern Oregon University in Ashland to see if they offer conversation groups as part of their community outreach. If you live outside of Southern Oregon, you may be able to find a conversation group at English at Large.

Video Clips: Episode 27 features video clips of the Southwest chief.  There was a mix-up during production that played parts 2 and 3 out of sequence.  See part 2 by clicking here.

Southwest Chief Part 2 is also on archive.org. To watch or download, Click here.

See part 3 by clicking SW Chief Part 3 .

To watch or download from archive.org, Click here.


If you can find a conversation group you’re comfortable with, by all means join it.  If not, write a list of the Trains and Railroads topics you would want to discuss in a conversation group if you could find one. List at least 5 topics along with some notes about what you might say about them.

Next Episode

There’s more to this journey aboard Amtrak’s Southwest Chief.  Watch the next segment on the Episode 28 page.