Are you an ESL student and wish you could be more confident when you speak with others? These 15 English conversation topics will be your savior.
So you're just beginning to learn English and wish you could speak confidently with others?
Once you've begun to learn the fundamentals, like English grammar and vocabulary, the next step is how to speak English. Assuming that your end goal is to speak it with friends, co-workers, or family members, you need to learn the most common English conversation topics.
Why? The reason is, you'll likely run into the same conversation starters in English over and over again. These include phrases like 'how are you', 'what brings you to this event?', or 'where is...?' And let's face it, you don't want to be depending on your English translation app everywhere you go.
More importantly, we want to avoid any awkward silences that naturally occur in discussions. To make sure you're not put into this situation, we'll give you some basic questions in English you can ask someone to break the silence.
Whether you're an English teacher or an ESL student that's looking to improve your English, save these conversation topics!
Ready to dive in to learn the most useful English conversation topics?
The most obvious topic you may be speaking about with fellow ESL students is around languages. This could happen in the classroom, language exchange, or at a party when you notice someone speaks a foreign language.
• What languages do you speak?
• What language(s) do people speak in your country?
• What language(s) are you learning? Why?
• What do you do to learn a language?
• What's hardest when learning a language?
• What are your best tips for someone learning a language? Are there any other languages that you'd like to learn?
• What's the most beautiful language?
Since most of us spend half of our lives working, it's natural for us to converse about our professional careers. Depending on where you're located, asking someone about their job may not be appropriate. Some cultures like to skip the career talk completely, whereas big cities like New York or Hong Kong, you can't avoid this topic.
• Where do you work?
• What do you do? Describe a typical day.
• What's the best thing about your job?
• What's the worst thing about your job?
• How did you become qualified for your job? Describe your very first job. If you had to change jobs, what would you do?
• What's your dream job?
• Describe the best / worst job you've ever had. Have you ever made a big mistake at work?
Talking about one's family is always a safe and enjoyable conversation topic as most people are rarely shy about their children, siblings, or parents. You may get yourself into a rabbit hole by asking someone about their children. Be prepared to be 'awed' by their photos, videos, and anything else they have to show off their beloved children.
• Describe your family members. (even better with photos!)
• Do you have any children?
• Would you like to have children?
• How are things different today than they were when you were a child?
• Do you prefer big families or small families?
• How often do you see your extended family?
• Do you get along well with your parents / siblings?
• What's your best childhood memory?
• What's your favourite...tv show? ...food? ...sport? ...hobby? ...music? ...movie? ...colour? ...animal? ...season? ...book?
Almost everywhere you go, you'll find people with their pets. The most common situation you'll run into is someone walking their dog in the park or out on the streets. However, if you plan to be in someone's home then anything is possible. Cats, birds, and even hamsters may be possible.
• Do you have any pets? If you don't, would you like to?
• What kind of dog is that?
• What's your dog's name?
• Did you have any pets as a child?
• What's your favourite animal?
• What kind of wild animals are there in your country?
• How do you feel about zoos? If you could choose to be an animal, which one would you like to be?
• Do you think that animals have emotions?
From physical to mental health, ask or compliment someone about their health. Given how hard some people work to maintain their physical bodies, you could make someone's day.
• You look in shape! What do you do to take care of your health?
• Do you have any bad habits?
• Do you think that people in general are healthy now?
• What do you think is important for health?
• Where do you work out?
• Can you recommend me any gyms around here?
• What are some health issues in your area?
• How do you deal with stress?
Get to know someone's background and where they came from. You'll not only learn a lot about their values, but you'll know what are the topics you can freely talk about and which ones are sensitive to mention. Examples may include their country's economic state, religion, political history, and more.
• What city and country were you born in?
• Describe your country or region: geography, languages, food, weather, services, etc.
• What's the best thing about your country?
• What's the worst thing about your country? If I were coming to visit you for a week, what would we do and see?
• Do you live in a big city or a small town?
• Do you have any favourite places?
• How long have you lived there?
• Have you ever lived anywhere else?
• Would you like to live anywhere else?
Discussing one's travel options is inevitable when you're speaking with fellow travelers. If you're visiting an English speaking country and meeting other travelers at hostels, events, or your AirBnB, these conversation topics will naturally happen.
• Do you have a car?
• Do you need a car to get around here?
• Where do you usually book your flights?
• Is there public transportation where you live?
• Have you ever travelled by boat / plane / train / etc?
• What's your favourite mode of transportation?
• Do you like to fly, or does it scare you?
• What's the longest trip you've ever taken?
For all the book worms looking for fellow book lovers, the following questions will be particularly important for you to know.
• Do you like to read?
• How about audiobooks?
• What kind of books do you like to read?
• Do you have a favourite book?
• What's your favourite reading spot?
• Do you ever reread books?
• What's the last good book that you read?
• Can you recommend me any business... health... career... self-help... books that you've read before?
• If you hate a book, do you still finish it?
• Do you prefer ebooks or paper books?
• Do you prefer books or movies?
• Did you have a favourite book as a child?
Since most of us went to school (or still attending), this topic is one that will resonate with just about anyone. No matter where they are in the world.
• Did you like school as a child? Did you ever get in trouble?
• Who was your favourite / least favourite teacher?
• What was your best / worst subject?
• What's the school system like in your country?
• Did you go to college / university?
• Would you like to go back to school?
• Were (are) you a good student?
HOLIDAYS AND GIFT-GIVING
If Christmas or other important holiday is near, this is what everyone in your social circle will be talking about. Be part of the conversation by learning these questions.
• What holidays do you celebrate?
• What's your favourite holiday?
• What's your least favourite holiday?
• Describe a childhood holiday memory.
• Are holidays now different than they were when you were a child?
• How does gift-giving work in your culture?
• What was the best gift that you ever received?
• What was the best gift that you ever gave? Have you ever received a funny or terrible gift?
• Have you ever given a funny or terrible gift?
• Where do you usually buy your gift?
The conversation around food is one of the most universally recognized, because it's a language on its own. Even if one person speaks English and the other person doesn't, a delicious dish is a delicious dish. However, if you know how to talk about food in English, even better.
• What's your favourite food?
• Is there anything that you can't stand to eat?
• Do you like to cook?
• If you were preparing a special meal for someone, what would it be?
• Do you prefer to eat out or at home?
• Where do you buy food?
• If you had to choose a national food, what would it be?
• Do you have a garden?
• What was your favourite meal as a child?
TALENTS AND HOBBIES
Everyone has a soft spot when you ask them about their passions. This could be their personal hobbies, projects, or a new skill they're learning, like a foreign language!
• Do you: ...play any sports? ...play any musical instruments? ...draw or paint?
• What are you good at?
• What are you trying to get better at?
• What would you like to learn how to do?
• What did you like to do when you were a child?
• If you could be really good at anything, what would you choose?
• Is there anything that you're really bad at?
Our guilty pleasures reveal who we really are when we're not in our work or school uniforms. It's what we do when we want to relax and how we spend our time when we're not busy with life's demands. It can also be a way to share a bond with someone if the two of you have the same guilty pleasures, like watching Game of Thrones!
• Is there a song that you love – even though you'd never admit it?
• Do you have any habits that you love, even though they're bad for you?
• Do you like reality television?
• What food do you always overeat?
• Is there anything that you love to do – but only if there's no one else around?
• Is there anything that you spend too much money on?
Since all of us have different travel experiences, asking to hear about one's travel story can turn into one of the most entertaining conversations you may have.
• What was your best / worst travel experience?
• If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
• Is there a place that you wouldn't want to visit?
• Have you ever lived in another country?
• Do you like all-inclusive vacations?
• Would you rather travel independently or on a tour?
• Would you rather visit a city or a wild area?
• What do tourists come to your country to see?
• Have you ever travelled all by yourself?
Ask someone about their goals, and you'll know what kind of person they are when they respond. If you want to really get to know a person, whether it's a potential girlfriend/boyfriend or a good friend, ask them about their dreams.
• What are some goals that you've made in the past?
• What would you like to achieve in the next month? Year? Five years? Ten years? Are you good at sticking to your goals?
• Have you ever failed to achieve a goal?
• Do you prefer short term or long term goals?
• What are you working on right now?
• Do you think that it's important to set goals?
• Do you make New Year's Resolutions?
• What does success mean to you?
HOW TO USE THESE ENGLISH CONVERSATION TOPICS
The best way to make sure you memorize these English conversation topics is not what you think. Instead of trying to memorize all of these at once, reflect back on the type of conversations you've had in the last week.
From the time you wake up to the time you went to bed, try to remember who you talked to, what you talked about, and which conversations were the most memorable. Once you've written those down, go back to our list of conversation topics and highlight the ones that most resemble your reflection from last week. Then only focus on memorizing those, and try to limit to 10 questions at a time.
The reason this is more effective than trying to memorize everything is because you're only focusing your attention on your most common situations. Unless you have a photographic memory, it's an uphill battle to learn all the questions we presented today.
So focus on the 10 most useful ones for you, and only once you've familiarized yourself with them, come back and learn the next 10.
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