ESL resources

Whether it’s the first session with a new student or you’re exploring a new language topic with an older student, it’s a good idea to have a few interesting questions to start a conversation.

The questions we have chosen, are designed to encourage the student to use a breath of language and tenses. They are not the standard ‘what do you like about your job?’ questions, because most B1 plus students can talk about their job without difficulty.

The best questions reveal something about the person you are tutoring; their interests and details about their life which you can use in proceeding lessons.

These question starters have been provided by the Fluentify team, Kevin K, Charlotte J and Janie C.

Beginner-preintermediate

  • Tell me about your daily routine? What are the easiest and most difficult parts of your day?
  • How is the weather today? / What is the weather like today?
  • What did you do last weekend?
  • What have you completed this week and what is still pending?
  • What do you do in your free time? What sports do you do?
  • Do you support a sport’s team? Are you a member of a club? Tell me about it.
  • What is your idea of a perfect day?

Intermediate

Everyday
  • Tell me about a place you have visited that has impressed you.
  • What is a city that you would like to visit in the future and why?
  • Are you watching anything interesting on TV at the moment?
    What is the show about? Who are the main characters and can you describe them?
  • What is your favourite dish to eat and why? Where did you first eat it? How do you prepare it?
  • Tell me about your town: describe the architecture, feeling and location.
  • What is something that a tourist must do when visiting your town and what are the things to avoid?
  • Do you shop online? Late at night? Have you ever bought something online and then questioned why you bought it?
  • What are some of the benefits of getting older?
  • Are you more of a saver or a spender? What do you like to spend your money on?
Business
  • What are your interview tips? Are you good at interviews? What have you learned about them in your career?
  • What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received? How did it help you?
  • Do you prefer to work in a team or individually? Why?

Advanced

Everyday
  • Tell me about a book or film that has influenced your life.
  • How have your shopping habits changed over the last five years? / How are your shopping habits different to your parents?
  • What are the pros and cons for shopping online for society?
  • Do you think young people think differently to older people?
  • Tell me about a historical figure you admire, what is their life story?
  • What is the biggest problem in your city? What would you do about it, if you were mayor?
  • What do you think the most important things we can do to stop climate change?
Business
  • What makes a good working environment? Do you think your company provides you with a good working environment? What is good about it? What would you change?
  • What is the biggest risk that you have ever taken?
  • Is the work culture in your country different from other countries? In what way?
  • If you could change your job, what would you do?
  • If you were boss of your company, what would you change?
  • How do you define success?
  • What’s a good ‘rags-to-riches’ story from Italy? How did it inspire you?
  • What characteristics do you need to make a good leader? Have you had a boss who was a good leader? And a boss that was a bad leader? Why?

Final thoughts

What are your go-to questions to start a conversation. Share them in the comments section below.

2 thoughts on “Questions to start a conversation”
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