This semester, I'm doing some overtime at my school's "Global Zone." It's a program where students can sign up in 30 minute time slots with a Native Speaker. In theory, they're supposed to prepare something, like a writing sample, some Toeic speaking test questions, some homework they want help with or a conversation topic or reading they'd like to discuss. About 1/2 of the students do this and it's actually quite helpful. The other 1/2 of the students show up with nothing, and just want to do "free-talking."
Free talking is kind of ridiculous after the first session together. Sure, it's fun to sit and chat, in English about hobbies or classes, or general school life stuff but then it's gets boring and not helpful. And almost each of these students say, "I really want to improve my English! How can I do it?" And then I tell them that they should read some articles or listen to a newscast or tell me about what they're learning in their classes, just in English. Or read a book and then tell me about it. Anything to challenge themselves. Except they don't. They just come back and want to do more free-talking. Ridiculous. Free talking is definitely not an English improvement tool, let's just say that.