Quick! You have no time to prepare but need to fill a few minutes in class… You want your students to get some speaking practice in, but you just don’t know where to start…
You need something to warm up your class before you dig deep in today’s lesson plans… What do you do? With these print and go discussion starters for your ESL students, none of these situations will stress you out. You will always be ready to get your students talking, no preparation required. Just print and go.
Family and Friends
Do you have brothers and sisters? Describe one of them. Are you an only child? What did it feel like having no brothers and sisters? Do you think it’s better to have a large family or a small one? Why? Tell your partner about your ideal future family.
What does it take to be a good mother or father? What do you appreciate most about your parents? What do you wish was different about your parents? What is one way you want to be like them when you have children?
Some families have a regular time to be together such as family game night. What do you like to do with your family? How do you spend time together? What is something you would like to do with your family but have not done up until this point?
Who is your best friend? How did you meet? Why is that person important in your life?
Do you own a pet? Tell your partner about him or her. What type of pet do you want to own in the future? Why? What type of pet do you never want to own? Why not?
Day in and Day Out
A Reason to Learn
Why are you studying English? What brought you to this program? What do you want to do with English when you have finished school?
What are some things you do every day? What if you couldn’t do them? Tell your partner how your life would be different.
Morning and Night
Are you a morning person or a night person? How do you know? What happens if you have to be somewhere or do something during the time you prefer to sleep? Tell your partner about it.
My Favorite Meal
What do you like to eat? Why? Tell your partner about your perfect meal. What does it include? Who has prepared it? Who will eat it with you?
I Have to Have…
Think of something you use every day. Describe it to your partner, but do not tell him what it is. After you have described it, have your partner guess what the object is.
Hobbies and Free Time
A Day Off
What is your favorite thing to do on a Saturday or a day off from school or work? Describe your favorite past time. How does someone get started with that hobby?
Have you ever been camping? What was it like? If you have never been camping, what do you think it is like? Do you want to go? Why or why not? What would you be sure to bring with you on a camping trip?
You’re a Pro
What do you know about that others might not? What can you tell others about that topic? What do they need to know?
Everyone is an expert at something. Tell your partner how to do something that you are an expert at.
What makes you happy? Why? How do you include that thing in your life?
See Me After Class
What do you want to do when you are finished with your schooling? How will learning English help you in those plans?
What is the most valuable thing you own? Is it valuable because of its monetary worth or because of what it means to you? Tell your partner about that object and why it is so valuable.
Have you ever been in an accident? What was it like? If not, how do you avoid getting into accidents? What are the most important things you can do to be safe?
Do you like to meet new people? Why or why not? How do you get to know someone new? Are you introvert or an extrovert? How do you know?
What kinds of clothes do you like to wear? Why? Tell your partner about your perfect outfit and what you like to do when wearing it.
I was frightened when…
Think about a time when you were scared. Tell your partner about that experience. How does that experience influence who you are today?
I was angry when…
Think about a time when you were angry. Tell your partner about that experience. How does that experience influence who you are today?
I was jealous when…
Think about a time when you were jealous. Tell your partner about that experience. How does that experience influence who you are today?
I was excited when…
Think about a time when you were excited. Tell your partner about that experience. How does that experience influence who you are today?
I was sad when…
Think about a time when you were sad. Tell your partner about that experience. How does that experience influence who you are today?
What is the most beautiful place you have ever been? Tell your partner about it. Do you think you will ever go back there?
Who is the person who has had the most influence on you in your life? Tell your partner about that person. How have they helped make you the person you are today?
Through a Child’s Eyes
What do you remember about being a child? What is one of your best memories? Share it with your partner. What is one of your worst memories? Share it with your partner.
Have you ever had to move from one home to another? What was the experience like? Share everything you remember about it with your partner.
Have you ever taken a vacation? Where did you go? What did you do? Do you think you will ever go back there again? Why or why not?
Note these discussion starters are for students who have studied conditionals.
A Deserted Island
If you were trapped on a deserted island all alone, what is the first thing you would do? What would you want to have with you? What would you miss most?
A Better World
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be? How would your change make the world a better place?
If you could have dinner with any person in the world, living or dead, who would it be? Why would you choose that person? Describe to your partner what your dinner conversation would be like.
They say that hindsight is 20/20 meaning you always know what is right or best after an event has happened. What is one thing you wish you had done differently in your past? How does hindsight make the experience easier to understand? How would you behave differently now that you know what you know?
Imagine you stumble into a time machine and travel 100 years into the future. The machine breaks, and you cannot return to your own time. What would you do? What do you think the world would be like? What would you miss most about your own time?
You did it. You filled the unplanned time.
You got your students talking. You got them ready for today’s lesson. Now on to something new tomorrow! After all, you still have plenty of things to talk about.
What are your go to discussion starters?