Conversation cafes were actually organized in the US for a developing more conversational gatherings where people would discuss politics and peace issues.
At Conversation Cafés, we will learn together how to create a culture of conversation—which is a culture of intelligence, peace, and political awareness. We are the media. We are the talk shows. We are America, waking up and tuning in. --from Conversation Cafe siteI liked the idea and the process for conducting a class where all of the participants are encouraged to contribute and are protected from potentially stifling remarks, interruptions, and attacks. The process also encourages active listening, instead of jumping in whenever the urge takes you, speakers are limited to their turns, mostly. There are opportunities for more lively interactions, however.
One other feature in this class is that we aren't using a text, and the participants chose the topics for discussion. There are some great places to get topics if you are teaching an advanced class and are looking for some topics and questions.
Conversation Questions for the ESL/EFL Classroom (from ITESLJ)
Karin's ESL Partyland
Learning Resources (from Literacy Net)