ESL Conversation Starters & Discussion Topics for Adults (2023)

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 about conversation starters for adults! If you’re a language teacher, then it’s kind of a can’t miss list of ESL conversation topics.

ESL Conversation Starters & Discussion Topics for Adults (1)

ESL conversation questions and conversation starters for adults

Let’s get into the best ESL convo topics that you might want to consider trying out in your classes.

Conversation Starters for Adults: Top 25

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

This is probably my favourite ESL conversation topic. 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.

The way students answer this question reveals a whole lot about them!

#2 ESL Conversation Question: 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

This is one of the most interesting ESL conversation questions for adults.

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. This is one of the best ESL conversation topics for adults.

#5: Last Purchase

Have students talk about the last thing they bought that was more than $100. This is one of the most interesting ESL conversation questions.

#6: You’re the President

Your students can talk about what their top three priorities would be if they were the president of their country. It’s one of the best ESL conversation questions for teenagers or adults.

#7: Favorite Things ESL Conversation Question

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

Do you want to explore some more ESL conversation questions? Then you’ll want to check out this video below:

#8: Horoscopes

Find some daily or monthly horoscopes online. Students read their descriptions and see if they match. It’s quite fun because horoscopes are so open to various interpretations.

#9: 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?

ESL Conversation Starters & Discussion Topics for Adults (5)

(Video) Top 5 ESL Conversation Starters | TEFL Conversation and Discussion Topics for Teenagers and Adults

ESL Convo Topics

#10: The Best Decision

Students think of a difficult decision they made but which they’re confident that they made the right choice.

#11: 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?

#12: 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?

ESL Conversation Starters & Discussion Topics for Adults (6)

Conversation starters for ESL adults

#13: 5 Things in Common

Students have to go with a partner, and then find five things that they share in common. Things like favourite foods, sports they like to play, favourite day of the week, first language, home life, etc. 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.

#14: 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?

#15: 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?

#16: Dream Job

What is your ideal job? Why? This is one of the most interesting ESL conversation questions for high school or university students.

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39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities: For English Teachers of Teenagers and Adults Who Want...

  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Bolen, Jackie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 94 Pages - 05/30/2015 (Publication Date)

#17: 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?

#18: Movies, Books, and TV Shows

What do you spend your time watching or reading? What’s your favourite movie, or what is the next one you’d like to watch.

(Video) 50 ESL Conversation Questions - English Speaking Practice

#19: 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? How do you feel about it? Do you want to change or you don’t care about it?

If you want to focus on superlative adjectives, you could change the question to, “What is your worst habit? And your best?”

Habits are one of the best conversation topics for adults.

#20: Best Vacation ESL Convo Topic

Students can talk about the best vacation they’re even been on. You can mention things like food, weather, activities, etc. I generally start this one off by quickly telling students about a recent vacation that I took.

ESL Conversation Starters & Discussion Topics for Adults (8)

Adult conversation starters

#21: Family ESL

A classic conversation topic for adults is family. After all, most people grow up in one and then have a new one later in life. It’s for this reason that there are so many things to talk about. And of course, everyone has opinions about what they should look like!

#22: Christmas (or Equivalent Holiday)

Everyone has ideas about what are the best traditions and activities to do for Christmas, or whatever holiday is most popular in the country you’re teaching in. This can lead to interesting discussions about things like values, family and consumerism.

#23: How to Spend $1000 Frivolously

This is a fun ESL convo topic that gets everyone to say how they’d spend $500, with the requirement that it must be done frivolously. That is, it can’t be used for investing, paying off bills, etc. Give some examples of how someone might be on a trip while someone else might go on a shopping spree.

#24: Favourite Season

Everyone has a favourite (and least favourite) season. Students can talk about whether they like spring, summer, fall or winter best and give some reasons why, as well as which one they don’t like and why.

#25: Future Predictions ESL Conversation Topic

Making some predictions about the future is a fun adult conversation starter. I generally relate this to the topic of the day such as extreme weather, politics, sporting events, pop culture, etc. It’s definitely one of my favourite ESL convo topics and students usually find this unit quite interesting.

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ESL convo topics

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.

What About ESL Conversation Topics Based on a Grammar Point?

Maybe you’ve had this experience before? You’re teaching about a certain grammar point like conditionals or gerunds and infinitives and you tell students to ask each other questions using that specific grammar. Total silence!

Of course, it’s not the students’ fault. It’s that they haven’t been given enough information to work with. Instead, give them some ESL Conversation starters and you’ll likely have much better results.

It’s certainly possible to use conversation questions based on a certain grammar point instead of organizing them topically such as you would with a vocabulary lesson.

Need More ESL Convo Topic Ideas?

If you liked these ESL conversation starters for adults, then you’re going to love this!Lesson Plan Ideas, ESL activities and games and more, delivered straight to your inbox every few days. I promise to respect your privacy and will never share your email with anyone, for any reason.

There are games, activities, ESL conversation topics and questions, along with a whole lot more ESL teaching awesome.

What about Some ESL Conversation Topics for Adults? Top 25

If you’re looking for some discussion topics for your adult classes that are sure to be a winner, then you’ll want to check out some of these top ideas that’ll work with almost any student in any country. Of course, be sure to adapt the topic to the level of your students by adjusting the activities, questions, listening or reading passages that you use.

Here are some of the best discussion topics for adults:

(Video) ESL Conversation Activities for Adults | ESL Conversation Lesson Plans Ideas

  • Hobbies
  • Time, and how people spend it
  • An ideal first date
  • Music
  • Movies
  • Last book they’ve read
  • Food
  • Favourite restaurant
  • Adoption
  • Ageing society
  • Giving advice for some common problems
  • Challenges in society
  • Anything in the news or current events
  • Cloning
  • Electric cars
  • Renewable energy
  • Family values (more ideas here: ESL family activities)
  • Getting a job
  • Unemployment
  • Immigration

If you want to get a bit more organization going on in your life, check out these top picks: teacher rolling carts.

ESL Conversation Starters & Discussion Topics for Adults (10)

Conversation Starters for ESL adults

ESL Conversation and Discussion FAQs

There are a number of common questions that people have about ESL conversation topics. Here are the answers to some of the most popular ones.

How do you teach ESL conversation to adults?

There are a number of steps you can follow to teach ESL conversation to adults. Some of them include the following:

  • Focusing on communication instead of accuracy.
  • Make classes as student-centred as possible (reduce teacher talking time).
  • Use pair and small group work as much as possible.
  • Change partners often.
  • Use a variety of interesting and engaging activities and games.
  • Teach vocabulary and review key grammatical concepts.
  • Monitor for errors and offer gentle feedback.
  • Of course, be sure to choose interesting things to talk about.

How to I teach ESL conversation to beginners?

Here are a few tips for teaching ESL conversation to beginners:

  • Keep it as simple as possible.
  • Be sure to check for understanding using concept checking questions (CCQs).
  • Allow for lots of practise time in class.
  • Use lots of pair and small group work and change partners frequently.
  • Try to reduce teacher talking time as much as possible.
  • Use a variety of student-centred ESL conversation activities.
  • Use engaging ESL convo topics

What are some of the best ESL conversation topics?

The best ESL conversation topics are ones that the majority of the students in the class have personal experience with and are interested in. Things like daily schedules, hopes for the future, food, movies, hobbies, work or school life and current events are ideal for ESL convo topics.

How can I teach conversation to ESL?

Did you like these ESL Conversation Topics?

ESL Conversation Starters & Discussion Topics for Adults (11)

67 ESL Conversation Topics with Questions, Vocabulary, Writing Prompts & More: For English Teachers...

  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Bolen, Jackie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 278 Pages - 07/12/2020 (Publication Date)

Yes? Thought so. Then you’re going to love this book over on Amazon: 67 ESL Conversation Topics with Questions, Vocabulary, Writing Prompts & More. If you teach speaking and conversation classes for teenagers or adults, it’s the book you need! There are 67 ready-made lesson plans that’ll save you a ton of time.

You can find the book in both digital and print formats. It’s easier than ever to have great discussion classes with these engaging ESL convo topics, along with everything you need to have an interesting lesson.

Check out the book for yourself, but only if you want to get some serious ESL teaching awesome in your life:

ESL Conversation Starters & Discussion Topics for Adults (12)

Have your Say about ESL Conversation Topics for Adults

How do you get your students talking in your classes with ESL convo topics? Do you use one of these ESL conversation topics, or something else? What are some of the best ESL conversation questions? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.

(Video) How to make GREAT Small Talk | English Conversation Practice

Also be sure to give this a share on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. It’ll help other busy teachers, like yourself find this useful teaching resource.

Last update on 2022-10-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


What are some good discussion topics for adults? ›

Conversation Topics For Anyone
  • “What is your favorite thing about your personality?”
  • “What do you love most about your home?”
  • “What's one habit you want to get rid of and one habit you want to keep?”
  • “What was the first big purchase you made as an adult?”
  • “What does a perfect day with the family look like?”
4 Oct 2022

How do you teach ESL conversations to adults? ›

How to teach conversational English online
  1. Prepare lists of questions. ...
  2. Answer your own questions. ...
  3. Talk slowly, but don't treat them like they're a kid. ...
  4. Have topics that are common, but ask for the student's opinion. ...
  5. Let silence hang, but know when to prompt. ...
  6. Use the chat box or a white board to spell things out. ...
  7. Take notes.
2 Feb 2021

What is freetalk in ESL? ›

Free conversation or free talk is a very popular lesson request from ESL students. At first, this might seem like a piece of cake. All you have to do is talk, right? Not quite so, free conversation lessons can sometimes be the most stressful especially if you're not good at building rapport.

What are some positive topics to talk about? ›

Conversation Topics That Will Work Anywhere
  • Tell me about yourself. ...
  • What's been the best part of your day so far? ...
  • What do you do to relax? ...
  • What book are you reading right now? ...
  • What's your favorite thing about your hometown? ...
  • What's the last thing you bought online that you really loved?

What should I teach English adults? ›

How to Teach Practical ESL Lessons to Adults with Real-world English Needs
  • Bingo.
  • The Art of Listening. Speaking Activities.
  • Bingo Talks.
  • Directed Drawing.
  • Take a Survey. Reading Activities.
  • Reading Aloud.
  • Scavenger Hunt Reading.
  • Dictionary Scramble.
6 Jul 2022

What is the best approach to teach English for adults? ›

Communicative language teaching (CLT)

This approach is probably now the most popular teaching model for English language teaching globally. In part because it aims to put students in a variety of real-life situations, so that they can learn how to use their language skills to communicate in the real world.

How do beginners teach ESL adults? ›

Beginners learning ESL be like…
6 tips to get you through
  1. Keep it simple, stupid. This is the one of the most important steps to teach English to beginners. ...
  2. Always check for understanding. ...
  3. Give them lots of time to practice. ...
  4. Show, don't tell. ...
  5. Always use positive reinforcement. ...
  6. Don't be boring.
3 Mar 2021

What are some unique topics? ›

  • Seniors are too old to adopt children.
  • TV adverts are not a work of art.
  • Allow social media at school.
  • Cash will be discontinued.
  • Music has the power to heal.
  • Old buildings must be preserved.
  • There needs to be a one car per family rule.
  • Marriage should only be allowed from age 25.
5 Aug 2022

What are the basic English topics? ›

Basics of English Grammar
  • Singular and Plural Nouns.
  • Count Nouns vs. Non-Count Nouns.
  • Possessive Nouns.
  • Pronouns.
  • ' Be' Verbs.
  • Action Verbs.
  • Adjectives.
  • Comparative and Superlative Adjectives.

What is Freetalking? ›

According to my thinking, freetalking is the uncensored ability of allowing words to flow from you as you share your thoughts and experiences with another. (I just removed the word "converse" from that sentence and replaced it with share.

How can I improve my English discussion skills? ›

But like any other skill, you can improve your spoken English if you practise regularly and follow these simple techniques.
  1. Listen. The first step in improving your speaking skills is actually working on your listening. ...
  2. Imitate. ...
  3. Read. ...
  4. Reflect. ...
  5. Prepare. ...
  6. Speak. ...
  7. Practise.
18 Oct 2021

How do you start a meaningful conversation? ›

What to do
  1. Recognise small talk as a necessary first step. To improve your conversations, don't dismiss small talk altogether. ...
  2. Ask better questions. ...
  3. Listen to the answers. ...
  4. Be willing to share something about yourself. ...
  5. Come ready to learn. ...
  6. Be prepared to give and take.
28 Apr 2021

How can I make a conversation more interesting? ›

8 Tips on How to Make a Conversation Interesting
  1. Keep the Conversation Focused on the Other Person. ...
  2. Find Points of Commonality and Connection. ...
  3. Watch Late-Night Talk Shows. ...
  4. Talk Slowly and Enunciate. ...
  5. Focus on the Conversation. ...
  6. Ask Personal Questions. ...
  7. Ask Open-Ended Questions. ...
  8. Handle Controversial Topics Delicately.

How do you spice up a conversation? ›

Here are the best 5 ways I know to do this:
  1. Find what to say in your favorite topics. We all have things we are passionate about: activities, hobbies, projects, goals, ideas or jobs. ...
  2. Ask open ended questions. ...
  3. Blurt. ...
  4. Let the other person end the silence. ...
  5. Practice, practice, practice.
18 Jan 2011

What to talk about if you have nothing to talk about? ›

13 Things To Talk About When You Have Nothing To Say
  • Talk about books and movies. ...
  • Ask random and silly questions that you've always been curious about. ...
  • Get an intimacy card deck. ...
  • Exchange childhood stories and past life experiences. ...
  • Inquire about their dream job. ...
  • Share embarrassing moments. ...
  • Talk about raising kids.
28 Jul 2022

What are some fun topics to debate about? ›

General Funny Debate Topics for All Ages
  • All families should have a pet.
  • Dogs are better pets than cats.
  • Summer is better than winter.
  • Candy should be given as rewards in the classroom.
  • Clowns are more scary than funny.
  • Modern music is better than classical music.
  • Xbox is better than PlayStation.
7 Jul 2022

What are the 3 things to not talk about? ›

If you're looking to improve the content of your small talk conversations, consider these guidelines.
  • Never Talk about How You Slept. ...
  • Never Talk about Your Health. ...
  • Never Talk about Your Period. ...
  • Never Talk about your Dreams. ...
  • Never Talk about Money. ...
  • Never Talk about your Diet.
14 Jun 2014

What are the 6 topics for the debate? ›

Debate Topics
  • Is digital technology making children's lives better?
  • Teachers should be allowed to smack naughty children.
  • Books are better than television.
  • Children should be paid to go to school.
  • Computers should replace teachers.
  • Every child should have a pet.
  • This house would ban boxing.
  • This House would ban homework.

What is the debate topic for 2022? ›

The 2022–2023 high school debate topic is: ''The United States federal government should substantially increase its security cooperation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in one or more of the following areas: artificial intelligence, bio- technology, cybersecurity. ''

What are the top 5 most researched topics in society today? ›

Top 10 Research Topics from 2021
  • Infectious disease. 29 articles | 1,643,000 views. ...
  • Nutritional immunology. 29 articles | 768,000 views. ...
  • Music therapy. 44 articles | 268,000 views. ...
  • Political misinformation. 11 articles | 219,000 views. ...
  • Plant science. 15 articles | 198,000 views. ...
  • Sustainable agriculture. ...
  • Mental health. ...
  • Aging brains.
17 Jan 2022

How do you choose a debatable topic? ›

Here go the tips for choosing debatable topics for your essay:
  1. Choose something you know and can express your opinion on.
  2. Avoid topics that are difficult to debate.
  3. Think of the audience. ...
  4. Make sure you have enough facts and evidence to support both your arguments and counterarguments on the topic.
28 Aug 2019

What are the 6 basic types of small group discussion? ›

Six Types of Discussion Types
  • Brainstorming. A discussion process in which the leader presents a topic or problem and solicits open-ended ideas about it from all group members. ...
  • Tutorial. ...
  • Task Group. ...
  • Role Playing. ...
  • Simulation. ...
  • Inquiry Group.

What are the 3 types of group discussion? ›

Answer: GD can be divided into 3 categories: - 1. Topical, 2. Case Study Based, 3. Abstract.


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