ESL Conversation Questions – Printable Cards for Adult Learners

Below you will find hundreds of stimulating ESL conversation questions arranged around more than fifty themes. Questions are formatted as sets of cards for easy group work.

If you find these discussion questions useful for your TEFL class, then why not pick up our book 50 Conversation Classes which features 50 topic-based sets of questions and activities. The questions are grouped by theme and are in a handy copy and cut-out format.

Each set of questions is accompanied by a worksheet which presents vocabulary items and related idioms to be worked through before the discussion begins. If you keep it in your bag, you’ll always have a backup plan.

Online Conversation Question Cards

Many of the discussion questions featured on this page are available for teaching online in the themed conversation questions cardsets on the online teaching site

There you will also find the Random Question Generator which is very useful as a warm up or filler activity and the random topic generator which contains a hundred plus ESL topics.

Printable ESL Conversation Questions

Grammar discussion questions

Vocabulary discussion questions

Tips for using ESL conversation questions

Make sure that each pile of cards is shuffled. It can be distracting for learners when they can overhear their neighbouring group discussing the same question which they are trying to form ideas about.

Some groups might have a tendency to speed through the activity, while others explore the activity more fully. You can pace the activity by giving a cue (buzzer, hand clap, etc.) for when the next card should be turned over. Two to three minutes per question should be enough.

I have found that the optimum group size is three or four. In a group this size, everyone should have a chance to give their opinion and there is more chance of a stimulating conversation being sparked.

It’s important not to let yourself get too involved in the ongoing conversations. It’s very easy to get caught up in a stimulating discussion, but you are not there to cast out words of wisdom and it’s quite probable that you are merely stealing another student’s thunder. Save your observations for a recap activity when the students can report their most interesting findings to the class.

Further activities

Here are some ideas for alternative ways of using these conversation question in your class.

Instead of giving piles of question cards to groups of students, give each student one card and have the students mingle and ask each other their questions. At the end of the mingling time, each student can summarise what they found out about their classmates.

After the conversation activity, instead of having students report back to the class divide them into new groups where they can share the results of their previous discussion.

Here’s what some Amazon reviews say about the book

Absolute gem…a great, straightforward supplementary book divided into simple, time saving sections according to grammar/lexis. Had my students talking from the start. Usually conversation books have the same bland questions. These questions opened both further debate and laughter. Recommended and a great price too.

I love to use this in my classes so much because I always get such a surprise reaction from my students as they relate to the questions on a personal level and bring into the total discussion such rich experiences.

Really lovely and useful resource. thank you.

I am impressed with having the vocabulary lists to help prepare people for meaningful conversations. I will use this in a camp setting and know that the campers will be happy that the conversations can be targeted to them… It is wonderful to have such a targeted resource!

My TEFL students love this book!! I quite often use it with them, to introduce the next part of the lesson. Thumbs up from me!!

Great book. Full of great topics for encouraging & practising speaking English for teacher & ESOL students.. Has been a tremendous help for me as a TESOL teacher. It encourages good conversations! As a teacher I’ve learnt a lot too about my students cultures! Very interesting.

An excellent book to jump in the lesson without any prior preparation!

Been very useful for last minute conversation classes.

I bought this to get ideas during conversation lessons and it’s great for ideas and to help the teacher come up with different questions to keep the lesson interesting … overall I think it’s a great book.

Great range of subjects which can be adapted for conversations at many levels of EFL / ESOL classes. I definitely recommend this book.

A great book to guide conversation classes.

See what others say and pick up your own copy from Amazon (also available as a PDF ebook).

11 thoughts on “ESL Conversation Questions – Printable Cards for Adult Learners

  1. I bought the 50 conversation classes book.
    Does it come as a series?
    I mean, as a multi leveled set?
    Id love if this book had a 5 level series. My students love the structure and idioms.
    So simple but so effective.

    1. Hi John, thanks for the very nice comment. I’ve certainly considered expanding the range of the book, I’m still thinking about how best to go about it (please feel free to send your suggestions)

  2. Peace/blessings! I teach Oral English in China at at University and online. The topics and questions are outstanding.

  3. I also have found these lessons very useful teaching in China. If you brought out another 50 topics I’d probably buy that too. How about a series based on business English?

  4. Thank you very much! I have a “conversation class” on Monday, the “getting to know each other” will be very handy .

  5. One of my favorite resources. Usually produces about 20 minutes of engaged conversation with my students.

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