Conversation Questions About Halloween for ESL Students

Where I live, Halloween is really popular with adults. My adult students often find it funny since Halloween is mainly a children’s holiday in a lot of countries. A lot of them get really into it and get all dressed up for my school’s annual costume contest. Others just think it’s weird.

Anyway, whatever their opinions are, here are some Halloween conversation questions to get your students into the holiday spirit.

Halloween Conversation Questions

  1. What do you know about Halloween? (How do people Celebrate?)
  2. What’s your opinion about Halloween? Is it a children’s holiday, or can adults celebrate it, too?
  3. Do people in your country celebrate Halloween? How do they celebrate?
  4. How do people celebrate Halloween in the city where you are now?
  5. Are there any holidays in your country that are similar to Halloween?
  6. Do you ever dress up in costumes? What’s your favorite costume?
  7. Did you ever go to a Halloween party? Describe it.
  8. What does the phrase “trick-or-treat” mean?
  9. Did you ever go trick-or-treating? If not, do you want to? Why or why not?
  10. Do you like candy? What’s your favorite kind of candy? Did you ever try candy corn?
  11. What is a jack-o-lantern? How do you make one?
  12. Do you decorate your house for Halloween? What kind of decorations do you have?
  13. Do you like horror movies? What’s the scariest movie you can think of?
  14. Did you ever go to a haunted house? What did you see there? Was it scary?
  15. Do you believe in ghosts? How about magical spells?
  16. Do you know any good ghost stories? Tell one!
  17. Are you superstitious? Do you think that black cats are bad luck? What other superstitions about bad luck do you know?
  18. What would you like to be for Halloween this year?
  19. Did you ever see dogs or other animals dressed up for Halloween?
  20. Do you prefer scary costumes, cute costumes, or political costumes?

Handout:

Here is a convenient, printable version of these questions that you can hand out to your students: Conversation Questions About Halloween

Have you used my questions with your classes? How do you celebrate Halloween at your school? How do your students feel about the holiday? I’d love to know, so please take a moment and leave a comment in the box!

Looking for more beginner-friendly questions on a variety of different topics? You can find all of my Conversation Question posts right here: Speaking Questions

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Conversation Questions About Weather

Where I live, people are always making small talk about the weather because it’s pretty unpredictable, and it’s always changing!

I just kind of assumed it was like that everywhere, until a student from Colombia pointed out that one major  difference between this city and her hometown is that nobody back home ever speaks about the weather. She said that the weather there is always sunny, and pretty much the same all year round, so nobody really thinks to mention it. I thought that was pretty interesting because here it’s common to open your door in the morning and say, “It looks like a really nice day!” And then two hours later, you find yourself turning to a stranger in the elevator and saying, “Ugh, I think it’s gonna rain.”

Anyway, here’s a list of weather-related questions for your students to answer. These should work well if your students come from countries with different climates, or if you live in a city with unpredictable weather, like mine. As always, you’ll find a link to a printable handout at the bottom of the page. Let me know how they work out, in the comment section!

Conversation Questions About Weather:

  1. Describe the weather today.
  2. What’s your favorite type of weather?
  3. What type of weather do you dislike?
  4. How many seasons are there in your hometown? How many seasons are there in the place where you live now?
  5. What do you like to do on rainy days?
  6. What do you like to do when it is very hot outside?
  7. Does it ever snow in your country?
  8. Do you remember the first time you saw snow?
  9. What usually happens when it snows in your country? (Do schools close? Do people go to work? etc.)
  10. Is weather a common conversation topic in your hometown? How about in the city where you are now?
  11. Do you usually use an umbrella in the rain? How about in the sun?
  12. Are rain boots fashionable where you live? What else do people wear in the rain?
  13. What do you wear when it is very cold?
  14. How often do you wear sunscreen? Do you usually get sunburns or suntans
  15. What are the three worst things about the summer?
  16. What are the three worst things about the winter?
  17. Did you ever travel somewhere extremely hot or extremely cold? Where?
  18. Do you think that the season of your birthday affects your personality?
  19. Do you like air conditioning? Why or why not?
  20.  Is the weather in your country different now from when you were a child?

Printable Handout

You can print these questions out in a convenient handout format right here: Conversation Questions About Weather

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Conversation Questions about Movies

Students love talking about their favorite and least favorite movies. Describing movie plots is never easy, but is a great way to work on improving fluency. And because movies often have different names in different languages, part of the challenge is trying to figure out which movie your classmates are describing. 

Anyway, today I have a list of movie-themed conversation questions to get your students  chatting. If you’d like to print out the list, there’s a link to a printable handout at the bottom of the page. Enjoy!

Conversation Questions About Movies

  1. What are your favorite types of movies?
  2. What is the last movie you watched? What was it about?
  3. What is your favorite movie from your childhood?
  4. What is your favorite teen movie?
  5. Do you remember the first time you went to a movie theater? How old were you? What movie did you see?
  6. Did you often go to the movie theater with friends when you were a teenager?
  7. Do you prefer to watch movies at home or in a movie theater? Why?
  8. What is your favorite movie snack?
  9. Do you prefer to watch movies alone, with friends, or with your family?
  10. Do you usually talk while you watch movies, or are you quiet?
  11. What movie do you really hate? Why do you hate it?
  12. Do you have a favorite movie?
  13. Do you ever cry when you watch movies? Which movies made you cry?
  14. How do American movies compare to movies from your country?
  15. Do you like documentaries? Describe an interesting documentary that you saw.
  16. Do you like animation? What is your favorite animated movie?
  17. Do you like silent movies? Do you like Charlie Chaplin?
  18. What are your favorite holiday movies?
  19. Do you read reviews before you watch a movie? Do you usually agree with the movie critics?
  20. Do you watch award shows? Why or why not?

Handouts:

I’ve typed these questions up into a printable worksheet that you can hand out to your students right here:  Questions About Movies

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The Best Pet – Would you rather have a fluffy cow or a plant with eyes?: Picture Prompt #2

The world is full of big, important issues that your students could be debating, but I don’t have an example of one for you today. Instead, I have this picture prompt:

Which is the best pet? A horse, a fluffy cow, a bear or a plant with eyes? List 10 reasons why.

 

This is a prompt for those days when your class just needs a silly, lighthearted debate. It’s a good way to help nervous language learners stop taking themselves so seriously and start brainstorming.

Here’s a little handful of ideas on using this picture prompt:

  • Divide your class into four groups, and assign each group to a different one of the pets. (I would recommend assigning the pets randomly. It’s more fun and more challenging when students have to defend an idea that they don’t actually believe.) Encourage them to (a) compare their pet to the other pets, and (b) Think of specific examples of activities that they could do with their pet.
  • After your students are finished writing down their ideas, it’s time to debate! My debates are usually somewhat informal. I give each group the chance to state one of their ideas at a time, and then I allow the other groups to argue against it. (If anyone has any ideas for a better organized debate, though, I’d love to hear them.)
  • This prompt works well after teaching comparative and superlative adjectives. (A bear is stronger than a horse, but a plant with eyes is cuter and less dangerous than a bear.)
  • Here is a simple, printable organizer that I created to help your students outline their ideas: The Best Pet: Graphic Organizer

Thoughts and Ideas:

How else could you use this prompt in your classes? Please share your ideas in the comment box!

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Today is Gonna Be a Good Day – Picture Prompt #1

Today is gonna be a wonderful day!

This prompt is a great way to follow up a lesson on using “going to” (or gonna) to talk about the future. I would recommend that you display the prompt on your projector or Smartboard, and read it aloud with your class.

Tell your students that you would like them to make a list of things that are going to happen that will make today the best day ever. Remind them them that the “be creative” part is key: Their sentences don’t have to be realistic at all. Tell them that they might say, “I’m gonna win the lottery!” or “I’m going to go to the airport and get on a plane to Hawaii.” Model a few sentences for them, and then give them some time to write. This can be done individually, in small groups, or in pairs. Your choice 🙂

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Conversation Questions about Homes – ESL Speaking

This set of conversation questions will get your students describing their apartments, houses, or other types of homes. It works great as a follow-up to a  vocabulary lesson on furniture or rooms of the house. Like most of my question sets, these are high-beginner-friendly. They are written in the present and past tenses, and you should be able to use them with students around A2 level and up. And as always, you can find a printable copy of these questions at the bottom of the page!

Questions about Homes

  1. Do you prefer to live in a big house or a small house? Why?
  2. Would you prefer to live in a house on the beach, a cabin in the forest, an apartment in a big city, or on a farm?
  3. What is your favorite room in your house? Describe it.
  4. Do you like spending time at home? Why or why not?
  5. What does your living room look like?
  6. What does your kitchen look like?
  7. Do you have a backyard or a porch?
  8. Do you have a garden outside of your house? Do you have plants or flowers inside of your house?
  9. Do you like cleaning your house? How often do you clean?
  10. Did you ever live alone? Did you like living alone?
  11. Did you ever have roommates? Did you like your roommates?
  12. Describe the architecture of your home. What does the building look like?
  13. Do you prefer old houses or new houses? Why?
  14. What do traditional houses in your country look like?
  15. If you live in an apartment, which floor do you live on? Does your building have an elevator?
  16. Do you like decorating your house? Do you like shopping for furniture?
  17. What color are the walls in your house?
  18. Describe your dream home.
  19. Describe your childhood home.
  20. How do you feel when you return home after a long vacation?

Handouts and Ideas

  • You can print out a handout of this worksheet to share with your students right here: Conversation Questions about Homes
  • Another thing that I love to do when we’re on the topic of homes is to bring out the sketch paper! I give each student a blank sheet of paper, and ask them to draw a quick sketch of one of the following:
    – the home they are currently staying or living in (I teach in the US, an most of my students are either on vacation or immigrants.)
    – their home in their native country
    – their dream home
    I make sure to tell them that artistic skills aren’t necessary. A simple blueprint works. If we’ve learned furniture vocabulary, I ask them to try and draw in the furniture.
    After they finish, I put students into small groups, and have them take turns describing the house that they drew to their classmates. It’s really fun!

 

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No Shorts Allowed: A Quirky News Story about school uniforms

When I was a child, I went to private school, and had to wear a really hideous uniform! We wore white button-down shirts with Minnie Mouse collars and navy blue sweaters with ugly yellow stripes. The worst part was the grey plaid skirts that fell 3 or four inches past our knees. We hated wearing those skirts, and would’ve given anything to be allowed to wear pants to school.

The boys in today’s story kinda, sorta have the opposite problem. They really don’t want to wear pants to school. This story would be great to use with high school or middle school students because they always seem to have strong opinions on school dress codes and gender equality. Adults love it, as well!

No Shorts Allowed!

The students at Isca Academy in England have to wear uniforms. The girls wear skirts and the boys wear long pants. At the end of June, the weather was very hot. The boys wanted to wear shorts. The head teacher said that they couldn’t. She said that they had to follow the dress code.

“It’s not fair!” The boys complained. “The girls can wear skirts. Why can’t we wear shorts?”

“Well, you can wear a skirt if you want to,” the head teacher said sarcastically.

“She said that we can wear skirts,” the boys said. “She doesn’t think that we will actually do it, but let’s surprise her. Let’s wear skirts to school to protest the dress code!.”

The boys borrowed uniform skirts from their sisters and friends. The next day, five boys wore skirts to school. The day after, 50 boys wore skirts. Later that week, 75 boys wore skirts. The boys said that the skirts were very comfortable!

Finally, the school administration made an announcement. They told parents that the dress code will change next year. Shorts will soon be allowed!

Handouts and Links:

You can print out a print out a handout of the text that you can use with your students right here: No Shorts Allowed

Check out the full article here: British Schoolboys Wear Skirts to Protest Heatwave

Be sure to check out this page for ideas on how to incorporate this into your lesson: How to use the stories

Please check back soon! I plan to update all of my news story lessons with follow-up activities, and ideas on how to use them in your classes.

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Conversation Questions About Feelings

Today I have some conversation questions about feelings to get your students chatting. The questions ask you to put yourself into different scenarios and imagine how you would feel in each one. I like this type of question because it’s fun seeing how differently people react to the same situations. Students will really get to know each other, and you’ll learn a lot about them.

You’ll want to start your lesson by introducing some new vocabulary to describe emotions. I would recommend choosing about ten words or so, and selecting words based on the level of your class. (For beginners, you might stick with the basics: happy, angry, tired, etc. For higher levels, you could go with ecstatic, furious, exhausted, and so on.)

Then, for some speaking practice, you can hand out the question worksheet (attached at the bottom of the page.), put students into small groups, and let them chat away!

The Questions

How do you feel when…?

  1. there is a lot of traffic?
  2. you are outside, and it suddenly starts raining?
  3. you win $10 in the lottery?
  4. your friend is late to meet you?
  5. your teacher is absent?
  6. you watch a Disney movie?
  7. you watch a horror movie?
  8. you read the newspaper?
  9. you find $100 on the floor?
  10. you make a mistake when you are speaking English?
  11. you send your friend a text message, but she doesn’t respond?
  12. you have plans tonight, but your friend calls to cancel?
  13. you hear a child crying at a nice restaurant?
  14. your friends sing Happy Birthday to you?
  15. it snows?
  16. a new ice cream shop opens in your neighborhood?
  17. you exercise?
  18. you forget your cell phone at home?
  19. you are in a shoe store?
  20. you have to speak in front of a group of people?

Handouts

For your convenience, you can print out a handout of the questions above right here: Questions About Feelings

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Create a Park

I sometimes have the opportunity to take a class on a field trip to a local park. As a follow-up activity, I like to ask students to get creative and come up with ideas for their own parks. They might, for example, create an aquarium-themed park, a teenager-only park, a trampoline park, or a food park complete with pizza-shaped slides. The more unusual, the better!

What to do:

  1. Brainstorm a list of park-related vocabulary, and create a class list of new words.
  2. Divide your class into small groups.
  3. Introduce the topic. Display the slide above, or create a list of questions of your own that you would like students to respond to. Give them time to discuss.
  4. (Optional, but recommended) Hand out poster paper, and instruct your groups to draw pictures of their new park.
  5. Give students time to prepare presentations for their classmates. Tell them that they should be able to describe their picture, and explain why their idea deserves to win the new park competition.
  6. (Also optional) After all groups have presented, take a class survey: Which group should win the competition, and why?

Did you like this activity?

If you like this type of activity, check out my Creative Tasks section for more like it.

And if you tried this out in your class, I’d love to know how it worked out for you. Please take a moment to tell me about it in the Comment section!

 

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The Last Argument: A Quirky ESL News Story

a short, quirky news story for beginner ESL classes

Today I have a true ESL news story about a man who came up with a very… uh… creative way to get out of a bad relationship. Below, I’ve included a printable handout, as well as tips on how to use the story with your classes.


The Last Argument

Lawrence had a problem. He and his wife had different opinions about everything. They argued every day. One day, he got very, very angry.
“You are driving me crazy!” he shouted. “This will be our last argument.”

Lawrence left his house and drove to the bank. He went to the bank teller and pulled out a gun. He said, “Look! I have a gun. Give me all of your money.” The bank teller gave him $2,924. Then she called the police.

Lawrence walked outside of the bank and waited. When the police arrived, he walked over to them. He said, “Excuse me officers. I’m the man you are looking for. Please arrest me.”

Why did Lawrence want to go to jail? He told the judge that he wanted a vacation from his wife. The judge sentenced him to six months of house arrest. He has to stay in his house for six months. He can’t go to the supermarket. He can’t go to the park. He can’t go to work. He can’t go anywhere! Lawrence wanted to escape his wife, but now he is going to see his wife every day for the next 6 months.

Suggested Vocabulary:

  • opinion
  • argue / argument
  • angry
  • You’re driving me crazy!
  • bank teller
  • gun
  • arrest
  • jail
  • house arrest
  • escape

Tips:

  • I would recommend reading this story aloud to your students until after the third paragraph, or possible after the first sentence in the last paragraph. Before reading the ending, pause and ask your students what they think the man’s punishment should be.
  • Role play idea: Put students into pairs. Tell your class to imagine that Lawrence has just come home from court after receiving his sentence. In their pairs, students should write and then perform a conversation (or argument) between the two of them.
  • Take a look at this page for more ideas on how to use my quirky news stories with your classes: Quirky News Stories

Yay! Handouts!

Click here to download a PDF printable handout of the story that you can share with your students: The Last Argument

This ESL news story was based on a true story. You can read the actual story here, and share it with your more advanced classes: Husband Robbed Bank to Escape Wife

 

 

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