ESL speaking activities that work – for students at every level

ESL conversation questions

These ESL speaking activities have the simple aim of encouraging students to speak openly and freely, with minimal support, in order to achieve their communicative goals. Only in these situations can we really gauge a student’s progress and discover their strengths and weaknesses. On this page, you will find suggestions for speaking activities which range from simpler, more controlled interactions to wide-ranging free-speaking activities.

ESL conversation questions

This section has hundreds of discussion questions grouped into themed cards for printing and cutting out. If you find this page useful, we offer an A4 sized book of photocopiable conversation cards with questions covering 50 topics as well as additional exercises presenting relevant vocabulary and idioms to support the discussions.

Discussion and presentation style speaking activities

What’s your opinion?

This activity is well suited to first classes with more advanced students. In this mingling activity, learners trade opinions and cards with their classmates.

Question time 

This is a simple to set up group discussion activity where students take it in turns to choose a topic and moderate the discussion.

Old school / new school

A discussion exercise where students compare school life today to that of the past.

The world in 20 years: future predictions

Students use simple future to speculate about developments in different fields.

Show and tell

Students bring in an object that has some meaning to them.

Question of the week

A writing activity with shared texts and clear error correction which can lead to in-depth discussions about the chosen topic.

Surveys and interviews

speaking activities

These ESL speaking activities are a great way to get your students conversing. When the surveys have been completed have students share their findings with the class. There are several ways to conduct a classroom survey.

First lesson: interview another student

Students brainstorm topics and questions before interviewing their partner and reporting back to class.

Ask the expert

In this speed-dating like speaking activity, students interview each other about their hobbies and interests.

Single question surveys

Some question-asking activities for lower-level learners.

One on one interviews

Students interview each other about specific topics.

Third-person interviews

An interviewing activity in which students practise asking questions in the third person.

Other activities

10 outdoor activities

Why suffer in hot amd stuffy classroom trying to motivate sleepy students who only have ice cream on their mind? Here are some ideas for activities which you can take outside.

2 thoughts on “ESL speaking activities that work – for students at every level

  1. Love this book! I will be taking an ESL teacher training course in a few months. In my present volunteer job, I’ve been asked to teach some English to the staff. They are all beginner to intermediate level. We are in a rural area of a poor country, so there aren’t many resources available, except what I can print out. Your book will help me do some fun conversation classes with them. Thanks for the great ideas!

  2. This conversation class book is brilliant! I’m very happy both with the sample, which I got first, and the purchase of the whole book. I’ll be using it for years!

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