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ESL Conversation Topics

Students who are practicing their oral communication skills in English will benefit from ESL conversation topics. While writing formally is important for students in order to succeed in a scholastic setting or to advance in the workplace, it is at the conversation level where the majority of people's interaction with language occurs.

For students who tend to be more uncomfortable socially, the added issue of having to interact in an unfamiliar language can exacerbate the situation. The following scenarios are all proven ESL conversation topics that can help facilitate a comfortable and successful learning environment for second language learners.

Suggested ESL Conversation Topics

One of the principle benefits of getting ESL students to communicate using specific conversation topics is that each topic typically comes with its own vocabulary. The topics students communicate about can be chosen based on their interests.

These conversation lessons can also be combined with vocabulary lessons:

  • First, the students become familiar with the given vernacular of a particular conversation topic.

  • Then, they are asked to use those terms to converse about the given topic.

Some excellent conversation topics are listed below.

Weather

In any culture, talking about the weather is a great way to pass the time, to get to know someone, and to make polite conversation. Even though talking about the weather has become synonymous with making idle chit chat, important information can be shared between two people who are seemingly discussing nothing but the weather. Students can practice weather related vocabulary and also work on framing questions about a future time, as in, "Is it supposed to rain tomorrow?"

Sports

In societies where sports are an important part of life, conversing about them is an important bonding ritual. The vocabulary they will need to learn will vary based on the sport that the students are interested in discussing. Another benefit of communicating about sports is that students get the opportunity to practice using action verbs like kick, throw, tackle, slide, run, and jump.

Love and Relationships

If the universal language is love, it certainly should make a great conversation topic for ESL students. Vocabulary lessons can focus on the different terminology for defining romantic relationships. Students can talk about their girlfriends or boyfriends, their first date, their worst date, etc.

Politics

While it is considered rude to talk about politics in some cultures, understanding the basics about the political process is an important part of becoming acculturated. Native speakers in most areas of the world spend at least some of their social time discussing politics. Because discussing politics can be a sensitive task, conversing about this topic can help students learn to be polite and to disagree in a responsible, constructive manner.

Food

Eating is important no matter where you are in the world, so food is universally used as a daily conversation topic. The possibilities for how you situate ESL conversation topics relating to food are virtually infinite. Students could practice ordering food in a restaurant or shopping for food at a market. They could use the terminology of the kitchen to talk about cooking and preparing food. They could also talk about particular foods from particular parts of the world, which is a fun way to work in a geography lesson as well.

Animals

Most people have some level of interest in animals. ESL students could talk about animals in a variety of ways. They could talk about keeping different kinds of pets or about the many other ways in which humans rely on animals to exist.

Resources for More Topics

Here are some additional resources you may find useful in your search for ESL conversation topics:

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