Photograph of a man walking by a London bus

"A language tells you where its people come from, and where they are going." - Rita Mae Brown (writer)

At a Glance

  • Live online course
  • 2 hours a week
  • Thursdays 18:00 - 20:00
  • 20 weeks: October to March
  • Tutor: Su Peneycad
  • Fees from £230 to £420
  • Imperial College attendance certificate (T&Cs apply)
  • Official course code: 90016
Booking link

This conversation course for non-native speakers is for speakers of languages other than English who want to improve their spoken English. The intention is to both improve your confidence in speaking and widen your knowledge of English. This should help you to speak easily to friends and colleagues, and to know when more formal language should be used.

The exact level of each course depends on who joins but it is aimed at intermediate/upper intermediate/ B2 (Cambridge First Certificate) /IELTS 5.5-6.5 or equivalent level. The summer course should be higher level than the winter course.

The basic syllabus can be seen below. A few items may be cut if they are seen not to be useful for a specific group, and more will be added if needed.

This is a course to improve speaking, concentrating on pronunciation, intonation and stress. Practice in producing correct English vowel sounds and word stress helps students to be more easily understood in everyday conversation. Specific exercises will be introduced, depending on the languages spoken in each group.

During this course, short dialogues will be used to help with pronunciation, stress, intonation, add vocabulary, and use of idioms and typical phrases. These are also helpful to recognise formal/informal levels of language. Listening skills will be improved and vocabulary introduced by short films, with vocabulary support, leading to group discussion. Lists of the more difficult vocabulary, with explanations and questions are offered.  Discussion topics are suggested but can be added to.

Materials needed will be sent to you each week. This is not a grammar course, but common problems will be checked and taught throughout the course.

Course delivery

This is a live-taught online course which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time. To take part in the course you will need a suitably equipped and internet-enabled device. Please find full details and instructions below under 'Course delivery'.

Attendance certificate

Those who attend at least 80% of the course sessions will receive an attendance certificate from Imperial College London upon completion of the course.

Course Information

Course Programme

Course Programme

Weeks 1-2. Topic: Communicating with other people

  • Introduction to the plan for the class. Pronunciation, use of modals, phrasal verbs etc will be introduced throughout the course, details not shown here.
  • Basic grammar check: modals; some and any; prepositions
  • First introductions – levels of language, formal and informal
  • Pronunciation of place names on the tube map
  • Starting a conversation- weather words
  • Irregular verbs -make a reference sheets file
  • Discussion: what is useful or of interest in the area where you live?

Weeks 3-4. Topic: Life in London and living in London

  • Social situations vocabulary: in a bank
  • Common phrases and when we use them
  • Introductions; establishing level of relationship
  • Say or tell? Which do we use?
  • Discussion suggestion: What you expected, and what surprised you, about life in the UK

Weeks 5-6. Topic: Life in the UK and cultural differences

  • Introductions and social occasions/ greetings                          
  • Question tags used in conversation
  • Adjectives – collocation and opposites/ comparison of adjectives
  • Relationships: liking and disliking/ family relations
  • Discussion suggestion: What you expected, and what surprised you, about life in the UK

Weeks 7-8. Topic: Holidays and celebrations

  • Asking for help/ Offers and promises
  • Invitations in different situations/ Accepting – refusing
  • Ways of saying ’No’ / Levels of politeness/ Giving an appropriate answer /Making arrangements
  • Christmas in London- having a visitor /Describing people
  • A Christmas pudding recipe /Cooking vocabulary
  • Discussion suggestion: Christmas or celebrations in your country

Weeks 9-10. Topic: Better communication

  • Speaking situations - Polite requests/ apologising
  • Telling the truth? Respecting people’s feelings
  • Make or do?
  • Identification and use of common objects
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Discussion suggestion: national customs or wedding ceremony in your country

*** Christmas break after week 9 ***

Weeks 11-12. Topic: What do we mean? How do we feel?

  • Approval / disapproval / giving an appropriate answer/ absolutely
  • Words concerned with feeling and opinions/ word building
  • Identifying feelings in given situations, at certain happenings
  • The six senses
  • Discussion suggestion: bring in and describe something from your country, explain the significance, meaning. Differences and similarities of cultures

Weeks 13-14. Topic: Making conversation

  • Agreeing/ levels of agreement/ Disagreeing: use of 'but'
  • Giving an opinion / Telling the truth?
  • Having strong feelings about
  • Discussion suggestion: Speak about an interesting place you have visited in London

Weeks 15-16. Topic: Making conversation 2

  • Some meanings of ‘give’
  • Problems: what do you say, answer? / giving advice
  • Causative ‘have’
  • Everyday expressions/organising a conversation
  • Discussion suggestion: Speak about an interesting place you have visited in London

Weeks 17-18. Topic: Jobs, skills and characteristics

  • Advantages and disadvantages/  used to, didn’t use to
  • Comparison of adverbs
  • Skills, qualifications and characteristics: using modals
  • Jobs vocabulary word building
  • Discussion suggestion: advertise your chosen job to the class. Who is interested in applying? Would you employ them?

Weeks 19-20. Topic: Jobs and being out of work

  • Out of a job vocabulary
  • Your Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • Future time
  • Anything we need to re-check?
  • Discussion suggestion: Your future dreams

Additional Reading

There is no compulsory reading required for this course, and there is no set course text.

Your Tutor

Your tutor is Su Peneycad. Su has many years experience teaching English to non-native speakers and will be able to offer not only excellent advice on improving your English languages skills, but insight into English attitudes, culture and society.

Course Delivery: Live Online Taught courses

All our online courses are taught live which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time. To take part in the course you must be able to attend the online session at the time stated for the course description.

All times stated are British Standard Time.

To take part you will need a computer, or laptop, or tablet computer, connected to the Internet. The device you use will also need to have a camera, microphone and speakers. Most devices now have these built in, but if not you might have to buy them from a computer shop and to connect them to your device.

Microsoft Teams

This course will use Teams as its online delivery method. Teams is easy to use. You will need to log into your existing Teams account or, alternatively, please create a free account hereNear the date of your first online session you will be sent an email with a Teams web link that will allow you to access the course. All you need do is click on the course link in the email and you will be asked to enter your name. This is the name that will be seen by your tutor and other students in the class. Once you have entered your name you might be asked to enter a password to enter the class. The password will be included in the email sent to you. Once you enter the password you will either be taken directly into the class, or asked to wait in a virtual waiting room until the tutor is ready to let you into the class.

All courses lasting two hours have a 10-minute break in the middle. For one-hour courses there is no break.

Course Fees and Rate Categories

HoursWeeksStandard RateInternal RateAssociate Rate
 40  20  £420    (Early Bird Rate: £380*)
£250    (Early Bird Rate: £230*) £330    (Early Bird Rate: £300*) 
* The Early Bird rate is available for enrolments made before the end of 30 September for courses starting in October only  |   All fee rates quoted are for the whole 2-term course.

Rate Categories and Discounts

Standard Rate

  • Applicable to all except those who fall under the Internal Rate or Associate Rate category, respectively.

Internal Rate

  • Current Imperial College students and staff (incl. Imperial NHS Trust, Imperial Innovations, ancillary & service staff employed on long-term contracts at Imperial College by third-party contractors)
  • Individuals enrolling under our Friends & Family scheme
  • Staff of the English Chamber Orchestra
  • Current Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication (CLCC) staff, current CLCC PhD students, Science Communication (Sci Comm) postgraduate students, and students enrolled on an Imperial College 'Language for Science' degree programme should contact before completing the online enrolment form

Associate Rate

  • Alumni of Imperial College and predecessor colleges and institutes
  • Austrian Cultural Forum staff
  • City & Guilds College Association members
  • Francis Crick Institute staff, researchers and students
  • Friends and Patrons of the English Chamber Orchestra
  • Harrods staff
  • Historic Royal Palaces staff
  • Lycee Charles de Gaulle staff
  • Members of the Friends of Imperial College
  • Members of the Kennel Club
  • Members of the London Zoological Society
  • Members of the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI)
  • Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • Natural History Museum staff
  • National Health Service (NHS) employees
  • Residents of postcodes SW3, SW5, SW7, SW10 and W8
  • Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council staff
  • Royal College of Art and Royal College of Music tutors and other staff
  • Royal Geographical Society staff
  • Science Museum staff
  • Staff of Exhibition Road Cultural Group (Discover South Kensington) organisations
  • Students (non-Imperial College)
  • Teachers and other staff of UK schools
  • Tutors and other staff of institution members of the Association of Colleges
  • Tutors and other staff of other universities and higher education institutions
  • Victoria and Albert Museum staff

Late enrolment

It is possible to enrol on many CLCC Evening Class and Lunchtime Learning programmes after the course has started. For non-language courses this is subject entirely to agreement by the tutor. For language courses it is subject to agreement by the language Coordinator conducting level assessment. If you want to join a course late do bear in mind there might be work you will need to catch up on, particularly in language courses.

Applicable terms & conditions

Please read the Terms and Conditions [pdf] before enrolling on any course.

Term Dates

HoursWeeksAutumn termSpring termSummer termSummer School
 40  20 18 Oct - 18 Dec 2021 (9 weeks)*  PLUS 10 Jan - 26 Mar 2022 (11 weeks) n/a n/a
* Followed by the Christmas break

Enrolment Process

Web enrolment starts 2nd August 2021

Enrolment and payment run through the Imperial College eStore. Please click on the blue booking link on the relevant course page noting below instructions:

  • Our rate categories are explained on the course page and your applicable rate category must be selected on the eStore
  • First-time eStore users please create an account by entering an email address and password. These credentials should also be used for future bookings. Imperial College users please note the eStore is not a single-signon College system
  • The booking process involves entering payment details after your course choice and applicant details are collected via an in-built questionnnaire
  • The following email notifications are sent:
What is sentWhen is it sentWhat does it contain
1. Payment confirmation Is sent instantaneously following submission of your online application
  • This is a receipt for your payment and includes payment date, order number and course title
  • Confirmation of your place on your chosen course will follow later
2. Enrolment confirmation Is sent within 10 working daysPlease treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received
  • Re-confirms your course choice
  • Shows your course's term dates
  • Confirms the day and time of your course
3. Programme information Is usually sent on Friday late afternoon the week before term starts
  • Contains joining instructions for your course, incl. tutor contact details
If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756

Any Questions?