Spice Up Your Conversation: Creative ESL Topics for Adult Learners
The ability to keep the conversation going, especially with strangers, is an exciting skill. If you know how to engage your interlocutor and always find something interesting to discuss, hats off! If you still can't find an appropriate chat topic in English, don’t worry. We’ve prepared a list of exciting subjects and ESL questions for conversation. So, make yourself comfortable as we are about to start.
Tips for Mastering Any Conversation
English speaking is one of the most complex skills, requiring much practice. That is why many ESL learners are afraid of having casual conversations. It's commonly believed that your accent or lack of vocabulary shows your lack of skills (spoiler: they don’t).
Yet, many people still prefer to chat online or even avoid everyday conversations with English speakers. If you recognize yourself, don’t worry! We’re about to resolve this issue. Firstly, look at these simple tips to help you feel more confident in casual dialogue:
- Prepare to make mistakes. We won't lie to you – you'll inevitably make mistakes in the early stages of studying English. But it’s not a bad thing at all - only those who do nothing can avoid mistakes entirely. Warn your interlocutor that English isn't your native language before starting the conversation, and we're sure they'll gladly help you find the right words in any situation.
- Fake it till you make it. You need to become as confident as possible (even if you don’t feel like that at all). Consider it a way to practice for conversations and your life in general. Don't stop the conversation flow even if you get uncomfortable, use hand gestures and try to adopt confident body language.
- Become a good listener. Don’t forget that a conversation usually includes at least two people. Pay attention to your interlocutor, ask questions to understand them better, make eye contact, and do everything to show your engagement in the dialog.
- Practice beforehand. Practice makes perfect. Learn new words and prepare for ESL conversation topics to strengthen your speaking skills, read books out loud, and do your best to take your English to the next level.
These tips might look simple and obvious to some ESL learners, but they're pretty valuable. After implementing them in your daily speaking routine, you'll see the results much sooner than expected. And if you already feel confident about your speaking skills but still need help choosing the best conversation topic, keep reading. We have something for you.
Best Conversation Topics for Adults
In some cases, finding the best subject to discuss is challenging, especially when you need to talk to someone you don’t know well. That is why we’ve created a comprehensive guide to the best topics for adults to discuss. You can find them all below.
Hobbies and Interests
Let’s start simple. If you have a conversation with someone and want to know more about them, you can ask them about their interests. It is a great way to understand the person and see if there is any common ground. You can start by asking these ESL conversation questions:
Do you have any hobbies?
What is your favorite activity?
What do you like most about your hobby?
Do you have enough time for your hobbies?
Do you want to try something new?
How did you find out that you like this particular hobby?
What do you think about the importance of hobbies in general?
Also, to keep the conversation going, you should say something about your hobbies and interests. There's no standard structure for such conversations.
However, here are a few phrases that can be useful:
My hobby is…
I like doing…
I’ve been interested in … since …
Unfortunately, I don’t have time for my hobbies.
I don’t have any hobbies now, but I’m looking for something new to try.
I think hobbies are really important.
Work and Career
The following great discussion topics for adults are related to the work field. If you know about your interlocutor’s workplace, you can ask some conversation questions for ESL related to their job. And if not, you can try and find out more about it.
Here are some examples:
Are you currently working somewhere?
What is your dream job?
Do you like your job?
What is the best place to work in your city/country?
What careers are the most demanded nowadays?
Do you prefer remote or office work?
What is your work schedule?
And to maintain the conversation, you must provide some information related to this discussion. Here are some things you can say:
I work at…
I really enjoy my job.
My dream job is…
I prefer remote work because…
I work from 9 to 5.
I think the best place to work in my country is…
In my opinion, the most demanded careers today are…
Food and Cooking
Talking about food is among the best and probably the simplest English topics. It requires simple vocabulary and no correct or incorrect opinions – you can just share what you like. It's one of the easiest topics for adults to discuss since there are a lot of things to explore – recipes, food shows, restaurants, national cuisine, and much more.
Here are some questions to start with:
What do you prefer to eat for breakfast?
What is your favorite meal?
What meals are popular in your country?
Do you prefer Indian or Italian cuisine?
Do you know the best Thanksgiving turkey recipe?
What do you think about Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant?
And the variety of answers is also impressive. As mentioned, you can share your own thoughts depending on the question being asked. Here's what you can say:
I like eating … for breakfast.
I prefer Italian cuisine.
The most popular national meal in my country is…
My favorite meal is…
I prefer take-out food instead of cooking.
My mom makes the best turkey sandwiches.
This is one of the trendiest English topics for students. And just as the pop culture itself, it's very extensive. You can discuss movies, TV shows, music, actors, juicy rumors about celebrities (we don’t condone gossiping, but we won’t judge), and much more.
You can start by asking these questions:
Who is your favorite actor?
Have you seen the new Avatar movie? What do you think about it?
Do you like listening to this song?
Are you team Selena or team Hailey? (please, be careful with this one)
Have you heard about this celebrity drama?
Do you watch TV regularly?
What streaming services do you prefer to use?
And again, you need to respond according to the context and your thoughts about the question. We can provide only a few examples of appropriate answers:
My favorite actor is…
I think this movie is a masterpiece.
I like movies directed by David Fincher.
I don’t watch TV at all.
I prefer Netflix or HBO.
No, I haven’t heard about it. Can you spill the tea?
Weather and Nature
You might be surprised because it sounds boring to many people, but the weather is a perfect icebreaker for any conversation. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel – just look around and try to get something to discuss, like the current weather conditions.
Here are some things to ask:
It is cold outside, isn’t it?
Do you prefer summer or winter?
Have you heard that tornado warning?
What climate is typical for your home country?
The best thing about this topic is that you don’t always have to ask questions to start a conversation. Just state something simple, and that will be enough. For example:
Oh, it’s raining cats and dogs.
I prefer to stay in bed and watch TV on days like this.
I was born in a tropical climate, so Canadian winters are a real challenge for me.
I like spring more than summer.
Almost all adults like to watch or read the news. Hence, discussing it is an excellent topic for any conversation. Just remember to stay polite and avoid subjects that can be controversial or offensive to your interlocutor.
If you don’t know how to start such a conversation, here are some examples:
Have you read today’s news?
Do you know anything about that car accident on 5th Ave?
What do you think about that article in Forbes?
Do you watch the news on TV or online?
Do you prefer online articles or newspapers?
You can discuss any events and express your own opinion about them. And if the subject is unfamiliar, you can ask your interlocutor to tell you more.
I heard it was a terrible accident, but luckily, everyone was okay.
No, I haven’t heard about it. Can you tell me more?
I don’t like reading newspapers, but I watch the BBC from time to time.
I think this article is really compromising.
One of the most exciting conversation topics for adults is traveling. It is a great way to encourage your interlocutor to tell something interesting and learn more about different countries.
Here are some questions to help get the conversation started:
Have you ever traveled abroad?
What was your favorite trip?
What is your dream travel destination?
What is the best place you’ve ever visited?
Do you prefer to travel alone or with a group?
Do you like adventure travel or relaxation?
What is the most unusual thing you’ve experienced while traveling?
To keep the conversation going, you can share your own travel experiences and opinions. Here are some phrases to help you with this:
I love traveling because…
My favorite travel destination is…
I prefer to travel alone because…
The most interesting thing I discovered while traveling is…
I prefer relaxation travel because…
Culture and Society
Another great way to gain insights into different perspectives and worldviews is to discuss countries and social issues. It can also help build empathy and understanding between people from different backgrounds.
Here are some questions to ask to start the conversation:
What is your favorite cultural tradition?
What do you think is the largest social issue facing your country?
What is the most significant cultural difference between your country and others?
Do you prefer living in a big city or a small town?
What is your opinion on the role of social media in society?
What do you think is the hardest challenge that young people face today?
And, of course, you can share your thoughts about the discussion topic. Here are some examples:
I think the biggest social issue facing our country is…
My favorite cultural tradition is…
I prefer living in a big city/small town because…
I think young people today face challenges such as…
I think the biggest cultural difference between my country and others is…
Dreams and Goals
This topic can be incredibly inspiring and thought-provoking. It can unite people, as everyone has unique aspirations and desires for their future. It's a powerful way to get to know someone deeper and learn a lot about their personality, values, and passions.
You can start with these questions:
What is your biggest dream?
What do you want to do in five years?
What is your main goal right now?
How do you motivate yourself to reach your goals?
What is your main inspiration?
What were your dreams as a child?
This topic can lead to a very in-depth conversation. And to maintain it, you also need to share your thoughts and feelings. Some of these answers might be helpful.
My biggest dream is…
My goal is…
I believe that my life in five years will be…
My main inspiration is…
The main things that motivate me are…
When I was younger, I dreamed about…
Love and Romance
The last topic on our list is pretty controversial, so you need to be careful when mentioning it in a conversation. Even though love is beautiful, you can’t be sure what other people think or experience about it right now. Therefore, avoiding personal discussions is important (unless your interlocutor wants to talk about it).
Instead, you can ask these questions:
What do you think love is?
Do you believe in love at first sight?
Is it possible to be too young/old to love, in your opinion?
What do you think about love languages?
What is your favorite love story?
Like the previous topic, this one is also great for engaging in long, meaningful conversations. You can learn more about a person after you know how they feel about love. And, of course, don’t forget to share your thoughts about it.
Here are some possible answers:
I think that love is…
I believe in love at first sight.
I believe that people of all ages can experience different forms of love.
I think it is essential to understand your partner’s love language.
My favorite love story is about Noah and Allie from The Notebook.
Inappropriate Conversation Topics to Avoid
Congratulations! Now you have enough subjects to discuss on different occasions. Yet, there are still some topics that may be considered off-limits. Some of them can cause conflict, while others might be offensive or even rude. Here are some topics to avoid in your next discussion.
- Personal Finances. Talking about one’s money is often inappropriate, especially if the person didn’t bring up this topic. Don’t ask your interlocutor about their salaries, loans, the amount of money in their bank accounts, etc.
- Politics. It is another controversial subject that can cause many conflicts. People have the right to different political views, which is alright. Yet, sometimes such discussions can become a little too heated. Therefore, we recommend avoiding this subject.
- Religion. This is a delicate subject for many. People have different beliefs, and in some cases, it can cause many misunderstandings. It's better to avoid this topic when you’re not sure if the other person will respond positively to it.
- Sexual preferences/experiences. It might be obvious, but some people (unfortunately) still forget about it. No matter what language you speak – don’t discuss your interlocutor’s sexual life. Unless, of course, they're comfortable with it or bring it up first.
- Health issues. The final topic on our list is also very important. Avoid discussing illnesses or health problems of the person you are talking to. It might be a sensitive subject, and you can unintentionally offend your interlocutor.
You’ll avoid many unpleasant situations if you don't discuss these subjects in your ESL-related conversations. Just remember to always stay polite and do your best to make both you and your interlocutor feel comfortable.
Discuss All the ESL Conversation Topics in Promova Conversation Club
The best way to practice all the topics mentioned in this article is to discuss them with someone. It can be your family member, friend, or stranger. But if you don’t have the opportunity to communicate with English speakers, don’t worry! We're happy to invite you to the free Promova Conversation Club. You can discuss these and other topics with people from different countries and master your speaking skills in a friendly environment.
Promova also offers a lot of options for students with different needs. For example, you can learn grammar, vocabulary, and other essential skills in personal or group lessons with our professional tutors. Just pass a quick test to determine your fluency, and enjoy your study.
Finally, our convenient mobile application is available for iOS and Android devices. It is a perfect option for those who prefer studying alone. You can install it on your phone or tablet and enjoy hundreds of engaging and useful lessons. Find what works for you and become fluent on your terms!
To sum up, we can say that there are many things you can discuss with other people. Whether you are taking ESL conversation lessons for adults or just trying to learn something new, these topics should help you practice and improve. And don’t forget to share your favorite subjects for discussion with fellow learners in the community!
What should I do if I’m nervous or anxious about conversing with native speakers?
Feeling this way is completely normal, especially if you’re still learning the language. To overcome it, remember that everyone makes mistakes, and a native speaker will likely be understanding and patient. Take a deep breath, stay calm, and focus on what you want to say. And if you know the subject beforehand, you can practice a bit at home to feel more confident.
How can I maintain the conversation if I'm not too savvy with the topic?
If you're not familiar with the subject, it's okay to admit it and ask questions. Showing interest and curiosity can make for a more engaging conversation. Ask the native speaker to explain concepts or terms you're unfamiliar with, or ask for their opinion on a particular topic. They'll appreciate your efforts to learn and understand.
How to overcome language barriers in group conversations?
If you are engaged in a group conversation with non-English speakers, try to be patient. Speak slowly and clearly, and avoid slang or idioms that your interlocutors might not know. Also, don’t forget to encourage others to speak up if they don't understand. It'll make them feel more comfortable and confident.
Is it normal to ask someone to repeat themselves if I don’t understand them?
Sure! It's much better to ask for clarification than to pretend you understand and risk miscommunication. Just politely ask them to repeat what they said or to speak more slowly. Don't be shy - ask for help if you're still having trouble! Remember that the goal is communicating effectively and understanding each other, so don't be too hard on yourself.