Do you want to get some discussion going in your ESL/EFL classes? Thought so. Then you’ll need to check out my top conversation questions to get the ball rolling. Read more for all the details!
Conversation Starters for Adults
If you’re looking for a quick ESL warm-up or perhaps a more in-depth discussion, check out these 10 conversation starters for adults—perfect for your ESL speaking classes. They are appropriate for students in almost any country.
If you want to start your ESL class off in style, with the students talking, sharing ideas and having fun, then you’ll need to consider using these Conversation Starters for Adults. Have fun!
#1: If I won the lottery
Have students describe what they would do or what they would buy if they won the lotto. I usually specify an amount of $1,000,000. This is enough that you can do almost anything you want, but it’s not too unreasonable-it forces students to prioritize.
#2: Bucket List
Students need to think of five things they want to do before they die. You can give some examples to get them started, but most people are pretty familiar with this concept.
This is a good question to find out what students value most in life. It can also be a nice warmup for a unit on travel.
#3: Guilty Pleasures
Explain to the students what a guilty pleasure is–they likely won’t know the term in English. Then, it’s time for confession!
I love this question because students often mention a trashy TV show that they watch. And, I’ll usually confess to watching Keeping up with the Kardashians.
#4: Things You’ve Learned Lately
Have students think of two or three things that they couldn’t do as a child but can do now. Emphasize that it’s related to a skill of some kind or you’ll just get answers like drinking or smoking.
#4: Last Purchase
Have students talk about the last thing they bought that was more than $100.
#5: You’re the President
Your students can talk about what their top three priorities would be if they were the president of their country.
#6: Favorite Things
Students submit questions with the starter, “What is your favorite _____.” Collect the papers, choose the best three and then students must answer them. Or, you can hand out a couple of papers to each small group and they can discuss different things.
Even More ESL Conversation Topics
Find some daily or monthly horoscopes online. Students read their description and see if they match. It’s quite fun because horoscopes are so open to various interpretations.
#8: People in Your Life
Who are the three people that you spend the most time with these days? What qualities do you appreciate about each person?
#9: The Best Decision
Students think of a difficult decision they made but which they’re confident that they made the right choice.
#10: Dream Vacation
If students had $10, 000 (or the equivalent in your local currency) and a long time off from work, where would they go?
#11: 100 Days Left
You just went to the doctor and found out that you have a rare disease. You only have 100 days left, so how would you spend that time?
#12: 5 Things in Common
Students have to go with a partner, and then find five things that they share in common. Encourage students to try to find things that are not obvious such as that they’re both in your class together, or that they live in city ABC.
#13: What Can You Cook?
Is there a food that you can cook really well and your family or friends love to eat? It can even be something very simple.
Do you have any tips for someone else who wants to make this?
#14: What do you Want to Learn?
If you had 10 free hours a week, and could learn 1 new skill, what would it be and why?
#15: Dream Job
What is your ideal job? Why?
#16: If School Were Free…
If a university education were free, and you got paid a basic salary to attend, would you ever stop being a student? Why or why not? Or, would you get a job?
#17: Movies, Books, and TV Shows
What do you spend your time watching or reading?
#18: Bad Habits
If you change one of your personal habits without any effort, what would it be? Sleeping late? Smoking? Not exercising enough? Eating potato chips?
What about Discussion Starters for Children
Some of these questions such as what you’d do if you were the president, or a dream vacation are great for kids. However, some of them obviously aren’t like a guilty pleasure!
If you teach children, then check out this list made specifically for them: Conversation Starters for Kids.
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Have your Say about ESL Conversation Topics for Adults
How do you get your students talking in your classes? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.