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Conversation Topics

Daily life questions

  1. What’s one thing in your home you couldn’t live without? Why?

  2. If you won the lottery and you suddenly had an unlimited amount of money to spend today, how would you use it? 

  3. What are you going to do after class today? (If your conversation partner gives a short answer like “Watch TV” or “Study,” ask a follow-up question like “What are you going to watch?” to get him or her to elaborate.)

  4. How do you cope with stress? (Or “How do you relax after a busy week?”)

  5. What is the most challenging part of your job or your studies? What is the most rewarding part?

  6. If you could live anywhere in the world for one year, where would you live and why?

  7. Can you think of a time when a failure actually worked out well? Tell me about it.

Hobby/interest questions

  1. What was the last movie you saw at the theater? Tell me about it (without spoiling the ending).

  2. What is one thing you’ve never done but would like to do?

  3. If you had to give up your cellphone, your computer, or your TV, which one item would you choose to give up and why?

  4. If you could only eat one type of food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

  5. If you were going on a twelve-hour flight and the only entertainment you could bring was a book, what book would you choose? (Ask your conversation partner to tell you a little about this book and why it would keep him or her entertained.)

  6. If you could meet one musician, living or dead, who would it be? (If your partner is not particularly interested in music, choose another category, like authors or scientists. The idea is to get your partner to talk about someone he or she admires without asking a question quite as broad as “If you could meet anyone, who would it be?”)

Opinion questions

A note on opinion questions: Asking your conversation partner how they feel about certain current events may be a good way to start a lively discussion, but make sure you are respecting one another’s ideas and not attacking each other’s ways of thinking, even if you disagree.

  1. Do you think marriage as an institution is outdated? Why or why not?

  2. How do you think technology, such as smartphones and social media, has changed the way we interact with people?

  3. What is your opinion about legalizing marijuana?

  4. Do you think US colleges are effective (or even necessary) in preparing students for professional careers? (If your conversation partner did not go to school in the US, ask them what they think about their home country’s education system.)

  5. What do you think would happen if the drinking age in the US was lowered to eighteen? (This might lead your conversation partner to talk about the drinking culture in their own country, especially if they grew up somewhere with a lower drinking age.)

  6. Do you think it’s possible to have a happy family and a successful career at the same time? (Your conversation partner may be able to talk about their personal experiences.)

  7. What is your opinion about violence in TV, movies, and video games?

Miscellaneous questions

  1. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? (If your conversation partner is still in school and has never had a full-time job, they may still be able to talk about a summer or weekend job.)

  2. If you could open up your own amusement park, what would it be like? (Encourage your conversation partner to get creative and pretend they have as much money as they need.)

  3. Do you enjoy spending time on your own? (If your partner answers yes, talk to them about what they like to do on their own. If they say no, ask what they do to keep from spending too much time alone.)

  4. If you were making a movie about your life, which actor/actress would play the part of you? Why did you choose this person?