ESL Conversation Topics
Once students have reached a certain level of English competancy, often towards the end of A2, one of the best ways to expand their vocabulary and promote fluency is to lead student-to-student conversations and discussions. Deciding on topics for these discussions can sometimes prove to be a bit difficult. With that being said, we have compiled some of our favourite conversation topics with a few questions in each category, that we have found to work well.
We have realised that group size plays an important role in how effective these discussions are. Groups over five tend to struggle as not everyone gets a chance to speak, whether that be because of time or shyness etc. Three students seems to be ideal, but it really depends on your group dynamics. As for timing we’ve found that planning for around one to three minutes per question tends to work well, though these discussion can spiral out of control and go off on unpredictable tangents.
Helping your students to get started can sometimes be tricky, so be mindful of how you facilitate these conversations. First off, let your students make mistakes; let them know that making mistakes is a positive thing. Tell them that if they are making mistakes, they are trying new ways to formulate an idea or get an opinion across and that means they are learning. Show me a student who has learnt a language without making mistakes and I’ll show you the rain in Antarctica. It just doesn’t happen! Also, let the conversation flow; let your students branch off from the questions and talk about different subjects. That’s natural and how normal conversation works. You as the teacher are purely there to facilitate, not to correct.
“Let your students know making mistakes is a positive thing.”
So without further ado, let’s have a look at the topics and relevant questions.
• What are the benefits of getting older?
• Is aging more difficult for men or women? Why?
• How long do you want to live?
• How are older people viewed in your country?
• Which animal best represents you?
• What creature scares you?
• What is the most effective way to save endangered species?
• What is the first thing you notice about appearance?
• How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
• Is it rude to tell someone they need to improve their appearance?
• How often do you read books?
• What was the last book you read and what was it about?
• Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction books?
• Can a book change the world?
• Do you think people read enough books these days?
Cars and Driving
• What is the farthest/fastest you’ve gone in a car?
• What is your dream car?
• What do you think cars will be like in the future?
• Do people drive well where you are from?
• What have you eaten today?
• What’s the unhealthiest food you can think of?
• Do you think organic food is much healthier than normal food?
• What are some things about your eating habits you’d like to change?
• How do/should family members support each other?
• How close to your extended family are you?
• What do you think of people who marry but decide not to have children?
• What are some things you do every single day?
• What are some good habits you have?
• Do you have any bad habits?
• What habits can improve your English ability?
• What makes you unique?
• What do you think when you see someone who looks very different?
• What are some things you do to blend in?
• What are some of the best jobs you can think of?
• What are some of the worst?
• What would be the most satisfying job for you?
• What would you consider a dangerous job?
So, there are a few topics and questions to get you started during your next class. As you’ve probably noticed, we only got to the letter J in the topics, so there’s no doubt we’ll come back to this with a “Part 2” down the road.
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