Here is a list I created of hundreds of ESL conversation / discussion questions that you can use in a conversation English class. I will update and expand the ESL conversation questions list on an ongoing basis. For a list of speech topics, please visit this page.
If you had to be raised by animals in the wild, what animals would be the best parents?
Can animals be gay?
If you could be an animal, what animal would you choose to be and why?
What are the pros and cons of owning a pet?
Beauty ESL Conversation Questions
If you could change one thing about your appearance, what would it be?
What do you find most attractive in people of the opposite sex?
Would you buy a Barbie Doll for your daughter?
What do you think of tattoos?
Should voluntary plastic surgery be banned?
Can aging be prevented or slowed?
Do you read beauty magazines?
What’s your opinion of beauty pageants like Miss Universe?
How have our ideas about beauty changed historically? What does this tell us?
Are people in your country fashionable?
What are some common fashion faux-pas people make?
“No Make-Up Day”: would this be a good idea?
How important is it for your partner to be beautiful?
What message does the media send to young people about beauty?
What message is more important to send to overweight youth: ‘be happy with yourself’ or ‘lose weight’?
Some airlines and restaurants seem to only hire attractive people. Is this discrimination? Should it be legal?
Have you ever bought art? What kind of art interests you?
Crime ESL Conversation Questions
Have you ever witnessed a crime?
Do you trust the police to help you when you’re in need? Why or why not?
Have you ever had to use violence to protect yourself?
Does your country have any stupid laws?
Should downloading music (without paying for it) be a criminal offense?
Should smoking be banned from restaurants?
France has banned ‘psychological violence’. What do you think this means?
Does your country have many illegal immigrants?
How would you define terrorism?
What were you doing when the 9/11 terrorist attacks happened?
Do you think there is terrorist activity happening in your area?
What is a ‘crime against humanity’?
What is ‘racial profiling’?
Being a patriot: would you go to war to fight terrorism?
The most wanted: who are the most wanted criminals in your country?
Was the US-lead invasion of Iraq in 2003 an act of terrorism?
Personal rights: A month after 9/11, the Bush government signed a law named the US Patriot Act. This law allowed the government to closely monitor telephone calls, emails, and other personal data. Would you support such a law in an emergency?
Have you ever had to take the law into your own hands?
Does your country have jury duty? Have you ever done it?
Is corruption common in your country?
Is it possible to get rid of corruption?
Have you ever bribed someone or been bribed?
Would you commit a crime to save your family?
Robin Hood: is it okay to steal from the rich to help the poor?
What’s your opinion of graffiti?
Should people be able to carry weapons?
Does your country need more or fewer surveillance cameras?
Who are the world’s worst criminals?
Should hitchhiking be illegal? Have you done it?
Have you ever been the victim of a crime?
Did you get caught stealing as a child?
What reputation do the police have in your country?
Have the police ever wounded or killed an innocent citizen?
What weapons do the police carry in your country?
What are some proactive ways to prevent crime before it happens?
What characteristics should a good police officer have? What characteristics do they often have?
What measures are in place to protect your safety right now? Are they sufficient?
What are the best strategies for self-defense? Is your country becoming more or less violent?
Who in society should be allowed to carry weapons? What kind of weapons?
Do video games, TV, and movies have a negative influence on youth?
Should prostitution be legal?
Can criminals such as paedophiles and rapists truly be rehabilitated?
Do you know any unsolved mysteries from your town, city, or country?
What’s wrong with public nudity?
Should miniskirts be banned?
Drugs ESL Conversation Questions
Should marijuana be legalized?
When you’re sick, do you use medicine?
What do you think of alternative medicine?
Do you support the use of clinical marijuana?
Is drug use a big problem in your country?
Was drug use a problem in your high school?
Is alcohol worse than many illegal drugs?
Should the legal drinking age be changed?
Should patents held by pharmaceutical companies be bypassed in order to help those in need (e.g. people suffering from HIV in Africa?)
Education ESL Conversation Questions
Is it easy to get a job after graduation in your country?
Should university education should be free?
How can educators and parents promote creativity in children?
How would you compare the quality of education in your country to other countries?
What makes a good teacher?
Do you prefer public or private schools?
Should evolution or creationism be taught at schools?
Do you have any funny school stories?
Who should be responsible for teaching sexual education to children and teenagers?
Is a university degree enough in your country to get a good job?
Is ‘the student life’ the best time in people’s lives?
Should researchers at universities also be required to teach classes?
What is the most important subject(s) in school?
How does your country’s education system rate globally?
Who was your favorite teacher from your school days? Describe him or her.
Should young children be required to learn English? If so, from what age?
How has technology changed teaching methods?
What do you think of home schooling?
Language development: what’s the best way to raise a bilingual child?
Have you ever had a problem with a bully?
Your son has just come home from school. He is crying because a bully at school beat him up. What do you tell your son?
What are your fondest (best) memories of high school?
What regrets do you have? What classifications of students existed in your high school (e.g. nerds, athletes, etc.)?Which were you part of?
How would you compare your high school generation to today’s generation of teenagers?
Is there such thing as a dangerous book?
Should children be prohibited from reading certain books? Has reading made you a better person?
Are girls smarter than boys?
Do you have any tips for giving a successful speech or presentation?
Entertainment ESL Conversation Questions
Who is your favorite celebrity?
What is your favorite movie?
What genre of books or movies do you enjoy?
What is your favorite science fiction movie about the future?
Do you prefer to watch TV or use the Internet?
Will TV exist in 20 years?
Do you like reality TV programs?
What do you think of rap music?
Why do many celebrities have drug and alcohol problems?
Do you read tabloid magazines?
What do you think of the paparazzi? How can they be controlled?
What’s your opinion of video games? What are the pros and cons of letting children play video games?
Do video games make people, particularly children, violent?
Emergency ESL Conversation Questions
What is a natural disaster? What are some kinds of natural disasters?
What are some examples of non-natural disasters?
Have their been any major disasters in your area?
What are some major disasters that you can remember?
Have you ever been seriously lost?
If you had one minute to leave your home, what would you take with you?
If you lost everything, how would you rebuild your life?
What would you do if you lost all of your possessions?
Have you ever been in a fire?
Would you rather burn or freeze to death?
Could you live in an area that could have a natural disaster at any moment?
English ESL Conversation Questions
How long have you been studying English?
Should everyone learn English?
Why are you studying English?
In your experience, what studying methods are most effective for you?
What accent do you find easiest to understand?
Are English movies in your country shown with subtitles or are they dubbed?
Should swear words be taught in English class?
If you could speak English perfectly, how would your life change?
Environment ESL Conversation Questions
Is global warming happening?
What has caused global warming?
Is recycling too much of a hassle?
What happens to recyclable materials after they are picked up from your house?
Should developing countries be required to cut emissions as well?
What is your opinion of nuclear energy? Which kind of energy do you support?
Do you believe overpopulation is a major issue? If so, what can be done about it?
How does overpopulation affect you?
How will the world look in 100 years?
Is it okay to send our garbage into space?
What is your opinion of nuclear energy? Which kind of energy do you support?
Are the rivers and beach areas in your city or town polluted? Would you swim there?
Concerning the production of energy, which is the most important consideration: human value or environmental risk?
Where do you draw the line between worrying about safety and living your life?
Could you live in an area that could have a natural disaster at any moment?
Family ESL Conversation Questions
What household chore do you despise the most? Should men and women share the responsibility for housework 50/50?
What are the advantages of raising a family in your country?
What’s the best age to move out on your own?
Would you adopt a child?
If you became elderly and alone, would you rather live in a senior citizen’s home or with your children?
Is it common in your country for people to live with their grandparents?
Do you come from a big family?
Is it good or bad to be a single child?
Are you more like your father or your mother?
What do you think of squatting?
How did your parents meet?
Why do many people dislike their parents-in-law?
Were you ever left alone or lost for a long time as a child? Or have you ever lost a child?
What qualities make a good parent?
What does “alternative parenting” mean? What are some alternative parenting ideas?
If you could choose, would you rather have a daughter or a son?
Do you plan to spend your life savings before you die or leave it for your family?
It is often said that “what a man does in the privacy of his own home is his business.” Is this true?
Where did your ancestors come from originally? Were they immigrants?
Violence: Is it ever okay to hit a child? What is the custom or law in your country?
Due to population growth and environmental problems, should families have fewer kids?
What is the ideal number of children to have?
Is it tradition in your culture for women to adopt their husband’s last name? Is this fair?
In your country, are mother’s allowed maternity leave (from work)? What about paternity leave for fathers?
What is a mid-life crisis? How can one be avoided?
When are children old enough to move out of the house?
What is the best environment to raise a family in (e.g. apartment, village, etc)?
Is there anything funny or different about your family?
Does someone in your family maintain a family tree?
How far back can you trace your family history?
How important is it to you (or your parents) that you pass on your genes, i.e. have children?
What important advice you want to pass on to your children?
Food ESL Conversation Questions
Have you ever had food poisoning?
What do you think of custom of giving an 15-18% tip in North America?
What is your best recipe?
What is the worst thing you’ve eaten?
What do you think of GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms)?
What country has the best cuisine?
Does your country have any ‘strange’ food?
What is the grossest thing you’ve eaten?
Is the tap water safe to drink in your country? Or do you prefer bottled water?
Do you buy organic food?
Do you eat junk food?
Are you a picky eater?
Should children be raised to eat everything on their plates?
What was your worst restaurant experience?
Would you eat horse meat?
Would you rather eat dog food or dog as food?
Future ESL Conversation Questions
When you were a child, what did you imagine the future would be like?
What do you think your life will be like in 2045?
Imagine you could live twice as long. How would you use your time?
How do you think human civilization will ultimately end?
Health ESL Conversation Questions
Are you addicted to anything, such as coffee, tobacco?
Are you afraid of the dentist?
What is the best cure for a hangover?
What is the ideal amount of sleep to get per night? Are you getting it?
Is your country smoker-friendly?
Have you heard of the paleolithic diet? What is it?
Would you rather be anorexic or obese?
What would you do if the doctor told you that you only had a month to live?
Do schools in your countries have cafeterias? Do they serve healthy food?
Does anything run in your family?
What’s the best way to lose weight?
Is your country’s cuisine healthy?
How are the health services in your country?
Do you support the idea of universal health care?
Is evolution still happening?
If you found an elixir that, once drank, would allow you to live forever, would you drink it?
Do you worry about the safety of the food you eat? What won’t you buy?
Fasting: Some people go without food for a long time to improve their bodies or minds. Can not eating make your body and mind healthier and stronger?
Is it expensive to get medicine and treatment from a doctor in your country?
Would you like to be a doctor? Why or why not?
Are you a hypochondriac?
What methods are used in your country to prevent pregnancy?
What important factors should a couple consider before having a baby?
Is the “morning after pill” a form of abortion?
Do you believe today’s generation of teenagers are more sexually active than the generation of 30 years ago? If so, why?
What is something you are not spending enough time doing?
What do you think of vegetarianism? Veganism?
Would you consider being a sperm donor?
What do you think of your country’s health care system?
Do you have any allergies?
Do you think our culture is too dependent on medicine? Have you ever had a near-death experience?
Does everyone have a right to free basic health care?
What would you do if you found an unconscious person lying on the street and there were no telephones nearby?
Do you know the steps of CPR?
Have you ever given or been given the Heimlich maneuver?
Do you believe people of the same blood-type have similar characters?
Have you ever donated blood? Do you think technology will help humans live longer and longer?
What is the key to long life?
Should some vaccinations be mandatory? Without exemptions?
What’s your opinion of vaccinations?
Would you rather be blind or deaf?
Would you rather be quite short or quite tall? Why?
In what ways, if any, are you superior to a caveman?
What’s your opinion of tanning, and tanning salons?
Holiday ESL Conversation Questions
How is New Year’s celebrated in your culture?
What is your favorite holiday and why?
Does your country have any special holidays or festivals?
Is Christmas celebrated in your country? If so, how is it celebrated?
What are the best and worst gifts you have ever received? What is the meaning of Christmas?
Being Good: Were you good this year?
Do you become a better person every year?
What is the best Christmas movie?
What food is associated with Christmas?
Real or Fake: What makes the best Christmas tree?
Do you have any funny Christmas stories?
Is it okay to give money as a gift?
Do you make a New Year’s resolution every year?
Homosexuality ESL Conversation Questions
Is your country gay-friendly?
Does your city have any gay pride events?
Does a person’s sexuality impact the type of jobs he or she should or should not do?
Do you believe sexual preference comes from genetics or the environment?
Freud argued that most people have both heterosexual and homosexual tendencies. What do you think of this?
What would you do if you found out your son or daughter were gay?
Why are some people against gay marriage?
How would your parents react if you told them you were gay?
Housing ESL Conversation Questions
What things can make an apartment a great apartment?
Has your residence ever been broken into?
Which do you prefer — living in the countryside or the city?
What do you know about your neighbors? Do you get along with them?
What is your neighborhood like? Is it becoming better or worse?
What types of disagreements often arise between neighbors?
What do you think of IKEA and its products?
Internet ESL Conversation Questions
Are you comfortable with shopping online?
Are the Internet and websites such as Facebook bringing people closer together or further apart?
Should young children be able to access the Internet freely?
Which is worse for children: the Internet or TV?
Do you support Wikileaks?
Hacktivism: are hacker groups, like Anonymous, heroes? Do you support them?
Are you a pirate? Do you pay for music, movies, software, and textbooks?
What do you think of dating online? Have you ever done it?
Has the Internet made us smarter or more stupid?
What does it mean if someone is a ‘troll’ on an online message board?
Why is there so much hatred on online message boards?
Money ESL Conversation Questions
Do you give money to beggars or homeless people?
What’s the best way to invest in your future?
Do you give to charity? Why or why not?
Do you think we will have cashless societies one day?
What qualities make a good salesman?
Do you have any customer service horror stories?
Have you worked in sales before?
Have you ever found a large amount of money on the street? If not, what would you do if you did?
Why do we use money?
Can you explain “inflation”?
If you were rich, what would you change about your life?
Should the rich pay higher taxes?
Banking: Would banking services improve if banks were made public?
What bank do you bank with? Are you satisfied with its service?
Does everything have a price?
Philosophy ESL Conversation Questions
Do you believe you make real choices in life? Or are all your choices determined by previous conditions?
Does morality come from education? Or is there something in humans that makes us view certain things as good and others as bad?
Do you believe there are things universal moral truths; i.e. things that are considered bad by all human beings everywhere?
Why care about the environment?
Why should we care about others?
Is truth just a matter of opinion?
Do you believe in fate or destiny?
If God exists, why are there so many problems in the world?
Does a person’s love for his/her partner differ from his/her love for a friend, child, or car? How so?
Do you believe in the idea of a soul, separate from the physical body?
Would your view on life change if you were severely handicapped?
“Everything is for sale.” What do you think of this statement?
Are there products you won’t buy for ethical reasons? If so, what are they?
Is life absurd?
What makes your happy?
Are human beings naturally selfish?
Do you believe in karma?
How can a person make the most out of life?
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Which idea do you believe in: “Everything in moderation” or “Try everything once“?
Do you think it’s necessary to be a morally good person to succeed in society nowadays?
Political ESL Conversation Questions
Have you ever been involved in a protest?
Is Democracy the best political system?
If you had your own island to populate, what rules would you make for the people that live there?
What is NATO? What is the role of the organization?
Should the right to protest be a universal right?
Can democracy work in the Arab world?
What causes war?
Would you be for a one-child policy for overpopulated countries?
Were there any problems with most recent elections in your country?
Are there many refugees living in your country?
What role should the international community have in Africa?
Do all countries have the right to have nuclear arms?
Should a country’s leader to limited in serving for only one or two terms?
Do you think countries should share the responsibility of accepting refugees?
What are the flaws of democracy?
Can democracy work in Africa?
Becoming a martyr: Are there any ideals that you would die for?
What is the best way to protest a government?
If you could rebuild your country, what would you change?
What conditions should be required for people who want to legally immigrate to your country?
What is your top complaint about your country’s government?
Could anarchism work?
“History Repeats Itself” — do you believe this? If so, can you give examples?
What are the major parties in your country?
Do the majority of adults vote in your country?
Do all countries have a right to possess nuclear weapons?
What does your government owe you?
How can a government create jobs?
Punishment ESL Conversation Questions
What is the purpose of punishment?
What was the worst thing you did as a child? Did you get caught?
How did your parents punish you when you were a child?
How should teachers punish bad students?
What was the worst punishment you received as a child? Was it fair?
Would you rather be dead than spend life in jail?
Should prisoners be required to work?
Can you think of any people who were punished for a crime they didn’t commit?
Is capital punishment (the death penalty) practiced in your country?
Who are some famous people who were executed?
Should insane people be punishable by death?
Is it ever okay to hit (or spank) your child?
Do you believe capital punishment makes the public not want to commit crimes?
Should executions be done in public?
What’s the difference, morally, between capital punishment and torture?
Would mandatory military service be a good idea for your country?
Relationship / Love ESL Conversation Questions
What is the best age to begin dating?
How long should a couple date before they move in together?
Why is the divorce rate so high in many countries?
What is the best number of children to have?
Should people have fewer children, considering the world’s population and environmental problems?
Have you ever been on a blind date?
What are your turn ons and turn offs?
Generally speaking, how do you think the men and women of you country are viewed by foreigners?
What is chivalry? Is it dead?
Do opposites attract? Or do similar people tend to fall in love?
Are caesarian sections becoming more common in your country?
Would you like to know the gender of your child before it is born?
Do believe pheromones for humans exist?
What is a wedding ceremony like in your country?
How has the idea of marriage changed throughout history?
What is your experience with divorce?
What do people commonly do on dates in your country?
Do you watch romantic comedies?
Do fairy tales create unrealistic expectations for people?
Have you ever had a long distance relationship?
What was the worst date you’ve ever had?
Have you ever tried to set up a friend with someone? Did it work out?
What is the `right age’ to get begin dating? Get married?
What do you think about meeting someone through a dating agency or dating website?
Do you think it is okay to date a co-worker?
Jealousy: is it possible to control this emotion?
Is society becoming more promiscuous? If so, what factors have caused this?
Do you believe in “the one” (does everyone have a ‘perfect match’)?
What are the pros and cons of going out with an older woman (or man)?
What do you think of polygamy?
Should the man pay on a date?
My Generation: How would you compare your generation to the current generation of youngsters? Would you rather have been born now than when you were?
Have you ever said something you wish you could take back?
Who do you go to when you need advice? What do you think of therapists?
Science & Religion ESL Conversation Questions
What are some limitations of science?
Is a scientific explanation of life depressing for you?
Have you ever witnessed a miracle or something supernatural?
Do you believe in evolution?
“The Survival of the Fittest”: How important are survival skills in our society? Does the term “Survival of the Fittest” still apply?
Is Darwin’s “Natural Selection” still happening?
Is artificial insemination against human nature and evolution?
Do you believe in aliens?
Are there any strange religious groups in your country?
Do you think the end of the world is near?
Nature vs. Nurture: Is intelligence rooted in genetics?
Survival of the Fittest: Do you think society would benefit if we let loose a handful of wild and dangerous animals (e.g. grizzly bears, hippos) into urban areas, e.g. the downtown of your city?
What would life be like if we succeeded in improving the gene pool by 30%?
Should people be allowed to know what their IQ is?
Thou Shalt Not Lie is the 9th Commandment. Do you agree with it?
Do you believe in the distinction between left-brained and right-brained people?