English Discussion Question Sources

One of the biggest needs that international students have to have an opportunity to practice conversational english. Much practice is required and that best comes in an informal setting. One of the key tools international student ministries use is the discussion group. During these discussion groups, people meet together to talk about a particular subject. It is a great opportunity to share perspectives, worldviews, and learn new vocabulary. The hard part is to week-in week-out come up with topics and leading questions to prompt conversation about them. Some of us just aren’t that creative.

In comes http://speechtree.com/ (see important note below… speech tree has moved) and  http://www.esldiscussions.com/. Speechtree was developed for use in the ISI evening TalkTime program at Westminster Chapel in Bellevue, Washington. From discussion on “advice” to “wonders of the world” there are nearly 120 topics that can be used for many different kinds of discussion formats. In addition, because it is for a program designed to encourage people to look consider a Christian worldview, it ends every discussion topic with a discussion on how scripture addresses the topic. Depending on where our students are on the engle scale, we decided whether the questions are appropriate or not. In addition I’ve know of a secular ESL program that uses these questions for their discussion groups but remove the Christian content in the end. It is very good.

ESLdiscussions.com is a recent find by a member of our team who is a professional ESL instructor. As it states in its introduction, in it

* There are currently 644 discussion topics to choose from.
* Use for ESL lessons, speaking practice, debate clubs, lesson add-ons, and more.
* Students can form discussion groups for independent speaking practice.
* The speaking activities are on everyday themes and more controversial issues.
* Each conversation lesson has ready-to-print Word and PDF downloads.
* There are 12,880 conversation questions here – That’s a lot of discussion!
* 1,000 more lesson activities (Sean Banville’s book)

In each of these topics there are questions that are intended for Student A & Student B so it works well to prompt discussion with even limited English students. But, it can be adapted for any other type of group. In addition, there are grammar discussions and idiom discussions which can be helpful for the student to prompt learning. There is even a section for discussion about current events and holidays. Again, a first rate source for discussion group questions.

NOTE: We have recently heard that the material at speechtree.com has been moved to earlyrain.org

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