ESL Discussion Topics
Everybody has hobbies, and everybody loves talking about them. Hobbies could be passions too. Some simple questions to ask include:
What are your hobbies?
Why do you like your hobbies so much?
How often do you do these hobbies?
How long have you been doing these hobbies, and how did you get started?
What hobbies did you used to have, but now do not?
Is it important to have hobbies? Why/why not?
As people get older, their perceived value of time increases, so it’s a practical topic that everyone has something to say about. You could ask questions like:
How much free time do you usually have?
How important is time to you?
If you had more free time, what would you do?
“Time is money.” Do you agree or disagree? Why?
How do you feel about time that is wasted?
As people get older, they start to appreciate a good night’s sleep more and more. This topic is often a favorite for all. Some example questions are:
How much sleep do you usually get?
Why do some people sleep well while other people do not sleep well?
What do you do when you have trouble sleeping?
What time do you usually go to sleep? What time do you usually get up?
Have you ever slept in a strange place that was not a bed?
Everybody loves music and most people feel very strong emotions towards it—especially when it comes to the music that they love (or hate) most. Some simple questions to ask could be:
What types of music do you like/dislike?
How do certain kinds of music make you feel?
What types of music come from your native country?
What’s your favorite song/album/artist?
Lots of people work and have lots to say about it. I mean, if you’re spending about a third of your waking hours at work, you may have lots to say. Some good questions are:
What work do/did you do?
How do/did you like the work?
What is your dream job?
What work is common in your city/area/country?
What is your general view about work? Why?
Everyone feels a certain way about risk. Some are risk-oriented, others are risk-averse. Talking about risks seems to generate some good conversation. You could ask questions like:
What is your definition of risk?
Are you a risk taker? Why/why not?
What are the advantages/disadvantages of taking risks?
What risks do you come across in your work/life?
What risks have you taken in your life?
Food is possibly the most universal topic of them all and everyone loves to discuss what they eat. This is also an ideal topic for beginners because the vocabulary is usually pretty simple. You could use questions like:
What is your favorite food? Why?
What food comes from your country?
How do you feel when you eat food?
What foods do you dislike? Why?
Where do you usually get food from?
Whether or not the students are a motivated bunch, motivation is a good topic to discuss in order to inspire your students. Some example questions are:
How motivated are you in general?
What motivates you to do things?
What is the best motivator to succeed?
What do you do when you feel demotivated?
What is a good way to motivate others?
We all have goals and talking about them actually gets us more encouraged to do something about them. Sharing goals is also a good thing to help get them done. A good set of questions is:
What are your current goals in life?
How do you plan to reach your goals?
How often do you set goals for yourself?
What goals have you set and achieved in the past?
How do you feel when you reach your goals?
Along with eating, everybody loves talking about their favorite eateries and restaurants. Some students could even relate to each other with their choices and views. Good questions include:
How often do you go to restaurants?
What is your favorite restaurant? Why?
What do you usually order at a restaurant?
Have you ever worked in a restaurant?
If you owned a restaurant, what kinds of food would you serve?
Cooking is another topic that may allow for some good conversation. A few good questions could be:
In your home, who usually cooks?
How often do you cook?
How well do you cook? What can you cook well?
What are the advantages/disadvantages of cooking?
What food would you like to learn how to cook?
If there is a topic that everyone loves deep down, it has to be money. People love talking about money. Great questions include:
How well do you manage your money?
Why do some people have money problems?
What are some good ways to make money?
What would you do if I gave you $20/$2,000/$2,000,000?
How often do you save money? Why?
This one is a personal favorite for many. Very few people are completely neutral on this topic. A few good questions are:
Do you enjoy shopping? Why/why not?
What is your favorite shop? Why?
In your city, where is a good place to go shopping?
How do you feel about online shopping?
How do you think shopping will be like in the future?
Everybody makes plans and discussing them could even influence the class to start making plans of their own! A few example questions include:
How often do you plan things? Why?
What are your plans for (________)?
What are your plans for your English?
What do you think of this quote? “Having no plan is a plan to fail.”
Do you have any back-up plans?
Books make for a good discussion topic because most people enjoy a good book.
When you read, your mind is filled with new images, feelings, ideas and thoughts. Books also empower and educate people, so your adult students may believe in the value of books. Some questions to ask are:
Do you like books/reading? Why/why not?
What kind of books do/did you like?
What is your favorite book? Why?
What was the last book you read?
Do you believe reading books/literature is more important than reading stuff online? Why/why not?
Now comes a topic that more men may favor, but it’s still good for classes since female spectators are on the rise. Some students may also have children that enjoy sports! A few good examples are:
Do you like sports? Why/why not?
How often do you exercise/play sports?
Did you play any sports as a child?
What sport/physical activity is popular in your native country?
What is your opinion on professional sports?
Television is one of those topics that everyone has an opinion about. The irony of it is that even though more and more programming is viewed on computers and tablets, television is still a hot topic classes love to discuss. Good questions include:
How often do you watch TV?
Should everyone have a television in their home?
What is the best way to watch television: On a television set, computer, tablet or phone?
What television programs are popular in your country?
What do you think will be the future of television?
What is your opinion on television?
If you had your own TV show, what would it be like?
Our brains are built to absorb, filter and store information. Discussion about learning could actually stimulate some English learning amongst the student. A few questions that are suitable are:
How important is learning? Why?
Besides English, what are you currently learning?
What things are you good/bad at learning? Why?
What would you most like to learn?
What is the most difficult part of learning? Why?
Like television, talking about movies is a topic that has something to be said by everybody. I mean, who doesn’t watch movies? A few good questions to be asked could be:
What was the last movie you saw? How was it?
What is your favorite movie? Why?
How often do you watch movies in English?
If there were a movie about your life, what kind of movie would it be? Why?
Talking about games gets discussion more geared towards past tense, which gives the students a fond sense of nostalgia. Some simple questions could be:
What is your favorite game ever?
What games did you play as a kid?
What games are popular/came from your country?
How competitive are you when it comes to games?
What games do you still play now? Why?
You can’t go a day without talking about computers. A greatly universal topic that could have students discussing quite a few things, which could all relate to real life too! Great questions on this could be:
Describe your computer at home/work.
What do you usually use a computer for?
Do you like computers? Why/why not?
What was the first computer you ever had like?
What do you think will be the future of computers?
Problems are actually a good topic for discussion since they could help others relate to each other and even present solutions too. A few fine examples of questions are:
How do you deal with your problems?
What problems do you come across in your work or life?
Do you feel that problems are opportunities? Why or why not?
What was the last problem you solved and how did you do it?
“Problems don’t matter. Solutions do.” Do you agree or disagree?