ESL Conversation Topics


Esl conversation topics.

Discover thousands of questions on a variety of different conversation topics designed to encourage engaging discussions and help improve the speaking skills of English learners around the world.

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Browse Conversation Topics By Level

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Unlock the Power of Conversation

Discover a world of conversation possibilities with thousands of questions designed specifically for ESL teachers. With a wide range of topics, split into beginner , intermediate , and advanced levels , you're sure to find something that suits your needs.

Explore different ways to encourage discussion with your students while improving their overall ability including topics based on various subjects, grammar points , vocabulary , media and more. All our conversation topics and suitable for teens and adults.

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Engage Adults and Teens with Dynamic Discussions

If you're looking for something a little different to add to your conversation classes, or if you want to just add a little fun and unpredictability, then our random conversation generator is the perfect add-on to any class.

Debates topics are also a great way to add some variety to your classes. Explore our list of over 250 debate topics or use our random debate topic generator . Want to make it even more interesting? Set the parameters and tell them if they have to argue for or against each topic regardless of their own personal views.

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Check Out The Latest ESL Conversation Topics

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Pranks and Practical Jokes

  • Have you ever played a prank or a practical joke on someone? What did you do?
  • Have you ever watched prank videos online? What do you think of them?
  • Have you ever been the target of a practical joke? How did you react?
  • Are there any traditional pranks or practical jokes in your culture?
  • View More...

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Law and Order

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  • Present Perfect vs. Past Simple
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  • How far vs. How long
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  • A few vs. few / a little vs. little
  • Boring vs. Bored
  • Compliment vs. Complement
  • Die vs. Dead vs. Death
  • Expect vs. Suspect
  • Experiences vs. Experience
  • Go home vs. Go to home
  • Had better vs. have to/must
  • Have to vs. Have got to
  • I.e. vs. E.g.
  • In accordance with vs. According to
  • Lay vs. Lie
  • Make vs. Do
  • In the meantime vs. Meanwhile
  • Need vs. Require
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  • 'Other' vs 'Another'
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Category Archives: Advanced

Here is a list of advanced ESL lesson plans on a variety of topics for English conversation class. There are many lessons at this level, so be sure to click the ‘ older posts ‘ link at the bottom of the page to see more. If you’d prefer to see a list of lesson plan topics, please view the topic list .

Short Story: The Next Light (Advanced Lesson)

An advanced lesson (C1) on the short story ‘The Next Light’ focusing on reading, speaking, and vocabulary skills designed for ESL/EFL class.

Advertising & Manipulation (Advanced Lesson)

This lesson is based on a BBC video about how ads, particularly TV commercials, manipulate our emotions. (For C1/C2 speaking ESL classes)

Unsolved Crimes (Advanced Lesson Plan)

A lesson on the 300-million-yen robbery in Tokyo and D.B. Cooper’s infamous airplane hijacking. Includes debates and roleplays for ESL class.

The Debate Over TikTok (Advanced Lesson Plan)

This lesson discusses the arguments for and against Tiktok. It has speaking activities about social media use, being an influencer, and more.

Four Charts on Modern Life (Part 2) – Advanced Lesson

Discuss four trends of modern life: rising prices, obesity, a decline in friendship, and the migration of millionaires (C1/C2 lesson)

Four Charts on Modern Life (Part 1) – Advanced Lesson

Discuss four trends of modern life: social media use among teens, negativity in the media, aging populations, and gaming revenues (C1/C2)

Drugs: Alcohol, CBD, Psilocybin, & Opioids (Advanced Lesson)

This lesson focuses on drug use, specifically alcohol, cannabis, psychedelics, & opioids. It contains speaking and vocabulary activities.

Riddles & Puzzles (Upper-Intermediate to Advanced Lesson)

This free lesson has 17 classic riddles, an Einstein puzzle, 5 lateral thinking puzzles, and 16 rebus puzzles (with answers) for in ESL class.

Phobias & Fears (Advanced Lesson Plan)

This lesson focuses on phobias, their causes, and treatments. It has many vocabulary and speaking activities for advanced conversation class.

The Case against Pets (Advanced Lesson Plan)

A discussion of the ethics of pet ownership. The lesson includes speaking activities (role-plays & debates) about adopting and keeping a pet.

Scams & Fraud (Advanced Lesson Plan)

An advanced lesson focused on two scams: AI voice cloning & a romance scam. After reading, ESL/EFL students do several speaking activities.

Whistleblower Urges UAP/UFO Disclosure (Advanced Lesson Plan)

An advanced lesson on whistleblower David Grusch’s request that the US disclose a secret UAP (UFO) program. Includes many speaking activities.

Stealth Camping (Advanced Lesson Plan)

An advanced lesson about stealth camping based on a Twitter thread by @shagbark_hick. Contains reading, speaking, and vocabulary activities.

Poems by Robert Frost (Advanced Lesson Plan)

An advanced lesson on the poems The Road Not Taken, Fire and Ice, and Acquainted with the Night by Robert Frost for EFL conversation class.

Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order (Advanced)

A lesson on Ray Dalio’s video, “Dealing with the Changing World Order”, about economics & global power. Includes speaking activities. (C1/C2)

A Day Like No Other (Advanced Lesson Plan)

This story-based lesson describes a hurricane hitting a town. The student must complete speaking activities as the story unfolds.

Family Travels the World (Advanced Lesson Plan)

A lesson on a Canadian family’s travels around the world to create memories for their children. Includes role-plays and speaking activities.

Vincent by Tim Burton (Advanced Lesson Plan)

A lesson on Tim Burton’s film and poem ‘Vincent’, which includes vocabulary & speaking activities about childhood and parenting for EFL class.

The Gender Pay Gap (Advanced Lesson Plan)

An advanced video-based lesson from BigThink’s “Devil’s Advocate” series on the Gender Pay Gap. Includes speaking activities for ESL class.

The Big Five Personality Traits (Advanced Lesson Plan)

A lesson on The Big Five personality traits (aka OCEAN Model). The lesson includes reading, listening (video), and speaking activities.

Health & Wellness (Advanced Lesson Plan)

A lesson on nutrition, exercise, and mental health for advanced ESL/EFL class including many speaking and vocabulary activities.

TPR Teaching

8 Best ESL Advanced Lesson Plans and Worksheets (Free and Paid)

ESL Advanced Lesson Plans

Teaching advanced learners can be a wonderfully conversational yet daunting experience, especially if you are a new teacher.

If you are teaching advanced students, you may ask, “what don’t the students know?!” like when I started out teaching C1 level. There are a couple of things I have since discovered that have proven to work well among higher-level students.

Let’s look at some advanced ESL lesson plans and activities you can incorporate into your lessons to engage and challenge your students.

ESL Advanced Lesson Plans

Your class can enjoy ESL conversation, news, vocabulary lessons, and more.

1. British Council

The British Council provides access to a few free advanced ESL lesson plans on general topics for secondary school students and adults. The lesson plans are designed around engaging themes, and it will take one or two classes to complete each one. They also have some free  Business English  lesson plans. Feel free to check these out for your advanced-level students.

Unfortunately, they don’t have many lesson plans available, but it’s great for finding something if you are stuck. Here are some to check out:

  • Left Handers
  • Robot Relationships
  • Sports in (Climate Crisis)
  • Kaleidescope – Edinburgh

2. Linguahouse

While Linguahouse is a paid membership site, they also have exclusive free lesson plans you hear about when you subscribe to  their  emails.

Linguahouse has got you covered with unique, high-quality content if you don’t  have  much time to prepare your lessons.

Here are some of the free resources for high-intermediate to advanced ESL students:

  • Pandemic Millionaires
  • Snow Leopards
  • Mastering Conversation
  • Spider Home Invasion
  • Shakespeares Insults
  • Changing Careers

3. Breaking News English

Breaking News has a plethora of amazing advanced ESL lessons.

Their worksheets can quickly be downloaded and used in the ESL classroom. They have short and long lesson plans to cover all situations!

Level six, graded on Breaking News English, is equivalent to C1 and C2 student levels on the CEFR scale.

Here is an example of some free lesson plans you can find at Breaking News English:

  • Extreme Heat Lesson Plan
  • Record Breaking 96-year old DJ Dies
  • Herald of Wild Elephants on the March in China
  • Job Offers $30 an Hour for Eating Candy
  • London’s Thinnest House sells for $1.3 million

Ello is a website with  thousands of  free listening exercises. If you want to switch things up from the reading lessons, Ello has great topic choices for advanced learners.

Examples of audio lessons you can find on Ello:

  • Minimum Wage
  • Climate Change
  • Skin, Sea, and Sun
  • Introverts and Extroverts
  • Bitcoin Part 1

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5. TED Talks

TED Talks are very interesting and engaging, providing good discussion points.

We can form entire lesson plans around TED Talks, which are suitable for advanced learners.

You may want to ask some comprehension questions after you’ve watched the short video, followed by some discussion questions that ask for opinions, experiences, and any ethical or moral issues that relate to the video and the society in which we live.

We can also look at some of the language used in the TED Talk. Were there words that the student might have had trouble understanding? What do the phrases mean?

See some ready-made TED Talk lesson plans at  Free English Plans.  These are perfect for advanced-level C1 students. Also, check out  TED-Ed , which has some comprehension and discussion questions mapped out for you with each video.

6. ESL Pals

ESL Pals has some great ready-made lesson plans that are easy to download and print off with just a few clicks. Currently, they have business English, general English, and grammar lessons at the C1 level.

This is a paid resource, starting at $49 for six months of access, although some free resources are available.

Examples of free lessons you can find at ESL Pals:

  • Risk: Tokyo Olympics
  • Crime: The Prison System
  • Pursuit of Happiness
  • Advanced Prepositions

7. Off2Class

If you are considering teaching online, Off2Class has many lessons you can share with an advanced-level student.

Off2Class has a huge curriculum that can be adapted to a variety of needs, and its advanced-level lessons are plentiful. If you are interested in using Off2Class, you must pay a monthly or annual subscription fee, starting at $8 per  month .

Examples of free lessons you can find at Off2Class;

  • Five ESL Lesson Plans to Teach Idioms
  • Five ESL Lesson Plans to Get Your Students Speaking
  • Consumerism and Consumption
  • The Business of Philanthropy

8. Use Authentic Materials

Authentic materials are produced for native speakers, like newspapers, menus, brochures, movies, or magazines. It is not designed with language learners in mind but can be used to create an ESL lesson plan for advanced learners.

While authentic material is useful for advanced learners, you must choose your materials carefully. Then you can ask the students questions about the material and follow with a roleplay or a written exercise.

You can look at grammar, vocabulary, and  discourse analysis . This focuses on how language is used to create meaning. For example, how a tabloid newspaper aims to communicate in relation to its genre or how sentences are structured.

You may also be interested in  Top ESL Websites for Online Teachers

Check The Readability Level of Any Lesson Material

If you aren’t sure about the readability level of a certain text, I’ve found a text analyzer online specifically for ESL teachers. It rates the difficulty of a text according to the Common European Framework (CEFR).

I added my text and the analyzer took the main vocabulary to study from the text. It also gave me the definitions of the suggested vocabulary compiled as a list when I clicked the “definitions” button. A game-changer for ESL teachers! Find the text analyzer  here.

You can find a lot of news articles online from sites like  BBC  and  The Daily Mail.

Advanced-Level Books

Compelling conversations.

This book really gets students talking!

Compelling Conversations  is a good book for groups of advanced English language learners.

This book helps ESL learners develop conversation skills and improve their fluency by reflecting on their experiences and sharing stories about their lives.

A typical chapter includes questions, key vocabulary, sayings, further conversation, and the sharing of views.

Practice Makes Perfect

Students often don’t understand how to have a relaxed everyday conversation in real-life scenarios.

Students might struggle to understand the slang and conversational phrases and expressions we use that you might not find in the textbook.

Practice Makes Perfect  gives examples of everyday conversations made by people without filtering out the oohs and ahhs of everyday conversation. This means that students get some fairly raw conversations with idiomatic American English expressions that they may not be familiar with when learning English in an academic setting.

Practice Makes Perfect teaches conversational skills with expressions and phrases we use daily. It suits students that have a high-intermediate level of English and above.

Advanced Level Activities

Activities can add a nice change of pace to the lessons while still improving students’ English skills. Here are some entertaining EFL game ideas for adults and teens.

1. Taboo Cards

Taboo is a word-guessing game and a great hit with ESL learners. Nobody is too old for games!

A person has to choose a card and make his partner guess the word without mentioning any of the “taboo” words.

For example, the word that the partner has to guess is “thrifty.” The person has to try to communicate this word without saying the taboo words “cheap,” “spend,” and “money.”

Here are some  taboo cards  for advanced learners. This game can also be adapted to lower-level learners if the teacher chooses the words carefully.

2. Categories

Categories is a great way to include activities that don’t take much preparation.

This is an activity suitable for all levels of learners in which a teacher picks a category, for example, “positive adjectives to describe people .”

Students sit in a circle and have to say something relevant to the category when it is their turn. The person who can’t think of something is out of the game.

3. How Long Can You Talk About…

Speeches can be a great way to access students’ prior knowledge on a topic.

Pick a topic of conversation, for example, “how to be more productive.”

The student has to talk about the topic for as long as possible until they run out of things to say. The teacher can note the time with a timer.

This activity can also be played in small groups to increase student talk time.

4. Board Games

I love prepositions because they are second nature to me as an English teacher but not to ESL students.

Examples of prepositions:

  • We are tired  of  waiting for Lucy.
  • I think he’s jealous  of  you.
  • It depends  on  your decisions.

Board games  are fun but may take a lot of time to make. I created a prepositions board game, but you can find board games that practice various grammar or vocabulary points.

5. Mini-Debates

Students can have an impromptu mini-debate if the teacher can bring some controversial statements to the table!

Divide the students into two teams. The student gets 2-3  minutes  to discuss their point of view before an opposing team member argues the point.

Examples of debates:

  • Marriage is not necessary in the 21st century.
  • Workers should be given a four-day workweek.
  • Formal dress codes are beneficial
  • Vaccines should be a legal requirement
  • Everyone should be vegetarian
  • The drinking age should be 21

Advanced ESL Conversation Topics

Topics and conversation questions to ask advanced learners:

  • Natural disasters:  “what are the consequences of natural disasters?”
  • Inequality:  “what kind of aid should we provide to poor countries ?”
  • Fake news:  “how can you tell if a story is fake?”
  • Pet peeves:  “do you have any pet peeves?”
  • Diseases:  “what dangerous diseases are people scared of?”
  • Shopping online:  “have you ever had a disappointing shopping experience?”
  • Environmental problems:  “how will the world be affected by climate change?”
  • Job interviews:  “what kind of questions shouldn’t be asked in an interview ?”
  • Success and failure:  “how do you treat failure?”
  • Current events:  “what is happening in the world today?”
  • History and culture:  “how did people live long ago?”
  • Lifestyle habits:  “have you made any recent lifestyle changes?”
  • Inventions:  “do some countries encourage entrepreneurship more than others?”
  • Medical and scientific progress:  “what is your opinion on plastic surgery?”
  • Politics:  “is too much attention paid to a politician’s life?”

Any topic can be advanced, but these topics allow students to think deeply and speak spontaneously about a subject they are interested in or know something about.

Tips for building advanced lesson plans for ESL students:

  • Be relevant
  • Keep your lessons simple, don’t try to reinvent the wheel
  • Find the balance between creative and practical
  • Keep it interactive
  • Play games, even with adults

What Should I Teach Advanced Level Learners?

  • Authentic lesson material such as podcasts, YouTube, and the newspaper
  • Conversational expressions, phrases and idioms
  • New writing styles
  • Pronunciation and intonation
  • Cultural differences

At this point, ESL learners want to know more about how to speak English naturally and fluently with native English speakers. You should teach advanced-level learners idioms, phrasal verbs , and conversational or slang phrases they can use based on their needs.

Students may be unfamiliar with writing styles, such as academic, legal, analytical, and creative writing.

Authentic newspaper articles that are not structured like the typical textbook will provide a challenge to students. Use them to your advantage!

How Do I Teach Advanced Vocabulary to ESL Students?

When students see the vocabulary term used in different contexts, it reinforces what they have learned and sticks in their minds.

  • The vocabulary should be based on the lesson plan
  • Allow the student to say the new vocabulary term
  • Explain what it means
  • Put  the new term in a sentence
  • Ask the student a question that encourages them to use the new vocabulary
  • Use the new vocabulary term in reading, writing, or speaking exercises

In Conclusion

Learning English as a second language can be fun, even for advanced learners!

When planning lessons for advanced EFL classes, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Keep the lessons fun and engaging with some new vocabulary and exciting topics to discuss!

What lesson ideas have you found to be helpful? Let me know in the comments!

Useful Links

  • Best ESL Worksheets for Beginners
  • Best Icebreaker Questions and Activities
  • Best Free Worksheets for Adults
  • Best Free Worksheets for Young Learners
  • Best Free Business English Lesson Plans
  • Best ESL Grammar Lesson Websites

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I'm an Irish tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. I started teaching in 2016 and have since taught in the UK, Spain, and online.

I love learning new things about the English language and how to teach it better. I'm always trying to improve my knowledge, so I can better meet the needs of others!

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2 thoughts on “8 Best ESL Advanced Lesson Plans and Worksheets (Free and Paid)”

This article is a treasure trove of good information for beginning ESL teachers. Thank you for the many resources and suggestions for making engaging lesson plans!

Thank you for your comment Jacinda, glad I could help 😊

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I'm an English teacher, writer, and MSN publisher with bylines on the AP wire. I come from an Irish farming background, and when not crafting words, you can usually find me drinking Guinness or exploring different cultures through travel.

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Welcome to esl DiscussionTopics

Welcome to esl discussion topics.

Quality questions you can use in the ESL classroom to get your students talking

Discussion questions on general topics suitable for the ESL classroom.

Business English discussion questions for those studying English for specific purposes.

Discussion questions designed to practice grammar in the ESL classroom.

PDF Formats

All handouts available for download in a variety of PDF formats.

General Topics

Business topics, grammar topics, how to use this site.

This site contains more than a thousand ESL discussion questions on a range of topics including general, grammar and business English discussion topics. These discussion questions are suitable for teachers to use in the ESL classroom with students at intermediate level or above. The ESL discussion questions are designed to be accessible to a general audience, but are open enough to allow advanced speakers to develop more complex responses.

Select a category above from either the general , grammar or business sections and click on the link. This will take you to a page where you can view the ESL discussion questions and download them in a variety of PDF formats perfect for the classroom. All the materials on this site are provided free of charge.

For further information about the site and its author, see the about page.

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7 Advanced ESL Lessons Your Students will Love

by Lauren Kubik - Last updated on April 20, 2023

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  • While Abroad

Congrats on the new teaching gig! You’ve got the first day of school jitters, have your outfit planned out, alarm is set, and you’ve memorized your bus directions. But now what? Just open the book and start speaking? It can be a little scary thinking about your first day of school as an ESL teacher. 

Girl writing on board during advanced esl lessons

Change lives—and language capabilities—with creative and fun advanced ESL activities!

Fear not, we’ve got you covered for planning some advanced ESL lessons that will make your students coming back for more. 

Tips for building advanced ESL lesson plans

First off, you need to know your audience. Are you teaching adults in Asia? They likely aren’t going to be too keen on hearing pop culture based on Justin Bieber’s new hit. Are you teaching kindergarten kids overseas who are interested in Business English? No, you’re not. Keep it fun and keep it relevant! You have to know who your students are and then can start making some stellar advanced ESL lessons plans. 

  • Follow ESL teaching models. Remember what you learned in your TEFL class a while back? You know, that part about slacking on your advanced ESL lesson plans, making sure to increase your teacher talk time, and to give multiple pop quizzes to the students…. Of course not! Make sure to follow the methods you learned or the ones that your school director gives you. If you’re not quite sure where to start, at least think of the the three “Ps”: Presentation, Practice, Production. (P.S. If you still need that TEFL certificate, International TEFL Academy will help you out!)
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel. Being creative is excellent, but no need to reformat the entire way that past teachers have taught. Keep it simple while also throwing in a dash of your own unique twist to the advanced ESL lessons. Find that smooth balance between creative and practical. If in doubt, you can scour the internet to find advanced ESL worksheets and tips to use for your lessons.
  • Keep it active. Nothing is worse than having students who are either dozing off, have that deer in headlights look, or are downright bored. There’s a fix for that. Move around. Get up. Mingle. Role play. Advanced ESL lessons that are student centered will be much more successful. It’s not about you, the teacher, it’s about the students being fully engaged and learning to teach themselves and their peers. Even just having them write on the whiteboard or move around a bit will keep the advanced ESL lessons much more engaging.  
  • Even advanced ESL students love playing games. Who could disagree that games are the best? Teaching English needs to be fun. Even if you’re in a room full of business English adults, you can find ways to throw in some games. No one is too cool for games. NO ONE. 

7 advanced ESL lesson plans that are ready-to-go

Adult with paint brushes

Put your paint brushes down—it’s time for advanced ESL lessons and conversations!

Just for fun, many of the following sample advanced ESL lessons and activities are based on—drumroll please—travel! We here at GoAbroad figure you can chat up a storm about that, correct? Regardless of your lesson aims of the day, you can always tweak them to fit the topic that you plan to teach. 

Keep in mind that the topic of the advanced ESL lessons will depend on your audience, meaning the students’ ages and their backgrounds. Be culturally sensitive if working with refugees or students living in poverty. An ESL lesson about traveling is not interesting to everyone. You’ll also have to check if the school you work for has required topics and materials for you to cover. In any case, whether you are building advanced ESL grammar lessons or just browsing for advanced ESL worksheets, you can be confident that you will have a kick-ass class. 

1. Tell us about your dream vacation. 

Skill focus: Speaking

Advanced ESL speaking activities can be really fun for students if you know what they like to talk about. In this case, project a map of the world on the board and ask students to think about where they would like to go on a dream vacation. Give them some time to answer prep questions that they can fill out before they discuss their ideas with other classmates. Easy ways to prep for this would be considering the who, what, where, when, and why? Once they have taken some time to prep and think about what they would like to discuss, have them chat with their classmates about their dream trip! Make sure they mingle, move around, and speak to multiple people. 

  • Systems aims: Phonetics, vocab (new lexis—if you’re fancyyy)
  • Materials needed: Map of the world, prep questions, sample questions for discussion, pencil, paper
  • Make it even harder: Have some backup questions for these advanced ESL lessons. Conversations that go further in depth will be a bigger challenge. “What’s your budget?” “What activities will you do each day?” “What kind of food will you eat?” “What’s the most exciting thing you will do?” Additionally you can quiz them after their conversations with their peers to ask what they retained from their classmates. “Who wants to travel the furthest?” “Who wants to bring their family?” The list could go on! 

2. Get published in magazine. 

Skill focus: Writing

English learners love a good competition; why practice writing without a reason behind it? Before handing out the writing task, let students know how much time they have to prep, how much time they have to write, and WHY they are writing. If you tell the students that they are competing to get published in a famous online magazine, let’s say, ;-), it will get them more motivated. 

Woman carrying backpack to esl lessons

Coming up with advanced ESL lesson plans for adults is different than how you’d approach it for teens or children.

In advanced ESL lessons for writing, students should take 10-15 minutes to write about their dream vacation. You can prompt them with a few questions, but this topic should allow them the freedom to write creatively. After the time is up, hang the writing pieces around the room. Give the students time to read each other’s pieces and then vote on which one should be published. It’ll be a confidence booster for the winner and provide that “student centered” activity that they need while learning. 

Pro tip: Advanced ESL speaking activities and writing tasks can actually be planned almost EXACTLY the same. The only difference is if the end result is either a dialogue or a text.

  • Systems aims: Grammar, vocab (new lexis—if you’re fancyyy)
  • Materials needed: Sample prompt or sample questions, pencil, paper
  • Make it even harder: Before hanging up the students’ writings about their dream vacations, have them swap with their partners to correct any errors. This will give them the opportunity for peer revision and give them a chance to then correct their mistakes. Best of all, it keeps the lesson student centered! 

3. Plan a holiday. 

Skill focus: Listening

Have the students listen to a clip of two people discussing their upcoming vacation plans. Prepare some key questions for them to answer to check on their comprehension. To make it more fun, leave out the ending part of the audio conversation. The students then can come up with their own ending and share their ideas with the class. 

Listening tasks are fun because you can use TV show clips, song lyrics, Ted talks, podcasts, and more!

  • Systems aims: Vocab (new lexis—if you’re fancyyy), listening comprehension
  • Materials needed: Audio clip based on a vacation or any topic your students enjoy, prepared questions, pencil, paper 
  • Make it even harder: Once the students complete their “make and ending to the story” task, have them create questions that they would ask those who were speaking in the conversation. This gives them freedom and room for creativity. They can then share those questions with other classmates. 

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4. read a travel guide..

Skill focus: Reading

Hello GoAbroad travel article archives. Pick an article for the students to read. Only give them the middle section and leave out the introduction and conclusion. Create handouts of a few options for intros and conclusions and have the students decide on which one is the best. If they are even more advanced, leave out your handouts and have them create their own intros and conclusions. To check on detailed comprehension, create questions about the article based on some of its key highlights. 

Pro tip: Reading lessons are the easiest to plan and facilitate!

  • Systems aims: Vocab (new lexis—if you’re fancyyy), reading comprehension
  • Materials needed: Travel article, prepared intro and conclusion options, additional questions, pencil, paper 
  • Make it even harder: Give the students a travel guide that is based in the country you are teaching in. Ask them what is correct, incorrect, what can be altered, what they like, and what they don’t like. This is a great way to get them interested because it’s about their own home!

Beautiful vaca spot

Describing your dream vacation is one of our fave conversation topics for advanced ESL students.

5. Answer "If I had a million dollars, I'd..."

Skill focus: Grammar

Advanced ESL grammar lessons don’t have to be dull! What’s more fun than making up stories about different scenarios? Let’s think about conditionals as that is a more advanced ESL grammar technique. A fun activity would be to have the students sit in a circle. The teacher leads and says: “If I had a million dollars, I’d go to Paris.” The next student says, “If I went to Paris, I’d eat lots of crepes.” “If I ate lots of crepes, I’d…….” You get the picture. The students go around in the circle and create a story based off of conditional phrases that the student before them said. 

  • Materials needed: Flashcards or pictures with different situations for samples, prepared materials with different conditionals, pencil, paper 
  • Make it even harder: Switch it up. Mix up the activity with all of the different conditionals—zero, first, second, third, mixed—to make that the students think about different situations with different types of grammar. 

6. Guess the word.

Skill focus: Vocab

Let’s say your vocab keywords are based on items to pack in a suitcase for a vacation. One game is to have the target vocabulary all on different pieces of paper. One student draws a word and describes it without saying the word. The other students compete to guess the word. Continue playing until all of the words are finished. Whoever guesses the most words wins! 

Another way of doing a similar activity is to have two students sitting in chairs with their backs facing the board. The teacher writes the target vocabulary word on the board. The rest of the class then has to describe the word to the two students. Whoever guesses the word wins!

Vocabulary lessons may seem easier to teach, but make sure to use lots of visuals, be very interactive, and keep the lesson student centered so that it sparks their interest. Vocab lessons are perfect for games. 

  • Systems aims: Vocab (new lexis—if you’re fancyyy), phonetics
  • Materials needed: Planned vocab material cut out on different pieces of paper
  • Make it even harder: If the target word is suitcase, create a challenge for the students by making the target vocab be “small black and flowery suitcase.” You can tweak the vocab on a case by case basis. 

7. Ask for advice. 

Skill focus: Functional language

Advanced students love love love learning how to ACTUALLY speak the language. This is more than the robotic: “Hello, how are you? I’m fine, and you.” English language learners want to speak as the natives do! This is where functional language is key so that they can sound more natural and have real life conversations. A fun activity would be asking for recommendations at a tourist office. The students could prepare scripts in groups of two or three. One of the students is the tourist office manager while the other one is the traveler. The students plan a role play for five to ten minutes and then perform for the class. 

Man and woman having an ESL

You can create an ESL advanced lesson for one-on-one students, too.

To prepare the students for this activity, the teacher could give context and background. There could be sample phrases and sentences taught before the role play. In the case of seeking advice from a tourist office, some keywords could be: activities, events, tours, programs, times, prices, budget, etc. This will, of course, depend on your key aims of the lesson. 

  • Systems aims: Function, vocab (new lexis—if you’re fancyyy), phonetics. 
  • Materials needed: Keywords written down and defined, scripts or sample role play, pencil, paper
  • Make it even harder: Add modals! On top of basic recommendations, see if students can use the nine basic modals in their role play scripts. “You MIGHT want to see Angkor Wat or you MUST see Angkor Wat?” This makes for a whole new meaning behind the role play for those advanced ESL lessons. 

Put it all together & you have killer advanced ESL lessons 

Now time to go on and make those advanced ESL lesson plans! Whatever your lesson aims are, don’t get too wrapped up in overthinking your to do list. Just remember that for the students to be fully engaged you need to have clear goals and know what they really want to learn. Once you get to know your students and see what their interests are, it’ll be a piece of cake. Most important of all: have fun! 

For more info on being the best ESL teacher possible, check out some more of’s ESL resources for teachers abroad .

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Level: C1 / Advanced

phrases to talk about memory

Do you trust your memory?

This ESL lesson gives students the opportunity to learn phrases to talk about memory, watch a video, and have a fascinating discussion. 

ESL lesson about healthcare

Healthcare innovation

In this ESL lesson about healthcare, students practise speaking, watch a video and do an optional word formation activity. 

esl topics advanced

Can you elaborate on your thinking here? (polite language)

In this ESL lesson on polite language students watch a video, have a discussion, learn and practise useful phrases. 

esl topics advanced

The intangible benefits of travelling

In this lesson students talk about the article they read at home, learn some vocabulary and talk about different ways of travelling and their benefits. 

ESL lesson on ageing

Ageing: embracing the inevitable

In this ESL lesson on ageing students talk about different aspects of the life of senior citizens. Students discuss mental and physical health, learn about dementia villages by watching a video, and brainstorm ideas.  

corporate jargon

Corporate speak

This ESL lesson on corporate jargon includes a video, a lot of discussion and practice of some popular phrases. 

esl topics advanced

How to succeed as a freelancer

In this lesson students discuss working as a freelancer. They watch a video, do four role-plays and talk about different freelancing ideas.

ESL lesson about dancing

Let’s bust a move

Try out this ESL lesson about dancing to teach students some expressive phrases. Students also watch a video and practise the use of pronouns.

esl topics advanced

On the lookout for the ultimate productivity app

In this CRC lesson, students read an article about productivity apps, express their opinions on the matter and share their experiences.

ESL lesson about communication

Conversations we dread

In this ESL lesson about communication students talk about difficult conversations and share their experiences. They learn vocabulary, watch a video, have a discussion, role play and practise useful expressions. 

ESL lesson about space

Pushing back the frontiers

In this ESL lesson about space, students watch a video about the International Space Station and have a long discussion about space. The topics include space exploration, collaboration in space and space technology. 

advanced lesson about cars

Vintage cars and other memorabilia

In this flipped advanced lesson about cars students talk about vintage cars and other objects, learn some vocabulary to describe used things, watch a video and have a lot of discussion activities.

lesson about a four-day workweek

Reimagining the workweek

In this Business English speaking lesson, students discuss the idea of a four-day workweek, watch a video and do a roleplay activity.

lesson on metaphors

Life is a winding road (metaphors)

In this lesson on metaphors students get a chance to talk about this stylistic device, watch a video on metaphors as well as learn and practise using metaphors.  

ESL lesson on e-commerce

What does it take to start an e-commerce business?

In this ESL lesson on e-commerce students get a chance to talk about starting a business, watch a video about people who did, discuss e-commerce and its advantages and learn some vocabulary related to the topic. 

ESL speaking lesson about generative AI

Generative AI tools – worth the hype?

In this ESL speaking lesson about generative AI, students listen to an excerpt from a podcast and talk about generative AI applications and the implications of this technology for different professionals.

ESL worksheet about architecture

Architecture of the future

In this ESL worksheet about architecture, students watch a video about a hospital of the future, learn advanced vocabulary related to architecture and talk about architecture of the future. 

ESL lesson about emotions

Can mindfulness help you navigate emotions?

In this ESL lesson about emotions and meditation, students learn vocabulary, watch a video, and discuss different ways how to calm down. 

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ESL Conversation Lessons

Building connection through conversation

ESL Conversation Lessons


Everyday life.

  • What is your comfort food? (video)
  • What do your hobbies do for you? (article)
  • Why do humans treat their pets like human beings? (video)
  • What bad habit would you like to break? (video)
  • How are you feeling? (video, handout)
  • What movie do you want to see? (website)
  • What kind of music improves your mood? (article)
  • If you were a car, which would you be? (video)
  • What books would you read? (article)
  • 5 of the most interesting talking points (article)
  • When you go to someone's house, what do you look at? (video)

The Weather and the Environment

  • What is the weather today? ( Video, handout, game)
  • Are your clothes environmentally friendly? (video)
  • What can you do to prevent climate change (interactive presentation)

Media and News

  • Why do we believe weird things? (video)
  • How do you separate fact from fiction (video)

Language and Grammar

  • Who, what, when, why, where and how--question words (discussion prompts)

Actions and Verbs

  • Try something new for 30 days (video)

Psychology and Life Lessons

  • Is failure always bad? (video)
  • Is too much choice making us unhappy?(video)
  • Are you a multipotentialite?(video)
  • Do you talk to strangers? (video)
  • What kind of music improves your mood?(article)
  • Do you want to climb a mountain?--mechanisms of fear (video)
  • What is your definition of success? (video)
  • What body language should you avoid? (article and handout)
  • Can my body language affect my mood? (video)
  • What matters most in life? (video)
  • How exactly does gender work? (video)

Current Events

  • Masks vs Coronavirus (video, handout)
  • What is in the news today (video)
  • Who is an entrepreneur? (video, handout)
  • Do you have a job or a mission? (video)
  • 8 secrets to success. Can you name them? (video)
  • How do you ask for a raise? (video)

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  • Advanced / Speaking

10 Unusual Advanced TEFL/ESL Conversation Topics

Here are some unusual, advanced English conversation topics for those students who have talked about everything before. These topics are great for conversation starters in class. They are also good for some interesting online class conversation topics for advanced students.

1. Misbehavior

esl topics advanced

  • What type of child were you? Were you a naughty child? Quiet child? Clever child?
  • If you have siblings, what kind of children were they?
  • Who did you respect the most in your family when you were a child and why? Did you always listen to that person? Why or why not?
  • Did you behave differently at school versus at home when you were a child? Why or why not?
  • Did you ever get into trouble when you were a kid? What is something you did? What happened?
  • Would you consider yourself a troublemaker as a teenager? Why or why not?
  • When you were younger, were your classmates a good or bad influence? Why?
  • How should parents deal with misbehavior? Why?
  • What do you think teachers should do with misbehaving children? Why?
  • Actress Julie Walters said, “It seems that when you get to a certain age you almost give yourself permission to misbehave and say what you think. People allow it, with very old people.” What do you think about this quote? Do you agree? Why or why not?

2. Superstitions

esl topics advanced

  • If you break a mirror, you’ll get 7 years bad luck.
  • You will be unlucky, if a black cat crosses your path.
  • It is lucky to find a four-leaf clover.
  • What are some common superstitions about good luck and bad luck in your country?
  • Are there any superstitions in your country surrounding holidays? For example, you can blow out candles on a birthday cake and make a wish, but if you tell anyone, the wish won’t come true.
  • Who is more superstitious, younger people or older people? Why?
  • Who is the most superstitious person you know? Why do you consider them superstitious?
  • What are some superstitions that you know from other countries?
  • Are superstitions harmful? Why or why not?
  • Can superstitions be fun? Why or why not?
  • Do you own anything that you consider “lucky?” If yes, what is it? And why is it lucky? If not, why not?
  • What do you think about superstitions in sports? For example, some players have rituals for game days, like always wearing their lucky socks or always having a special meal before the game.
  • Groucho Marx said, “If a black cat crosses your path, it signifies that the animal is going somewhere.” What do you make of this statement?

3. Entrepreneurship

esl topics advanced

  • If you could start your own business, what kind of business would you start? Why?
  • Do you know anyone who has started their own business? Tell me about their business.
  • Is entrepreneurship a popular dream in your country? Why or why not?
  • Where do most people shop in your country: local businesses or big businesses? Why?
  • Do you think it is important to support small businesses? Why or why not?
  • What type of local businesses do you go to? Why?
  • Do you think it’s worthwhile for small businesses to have a social media presence? Why or why not?
  • What are the pros of owning your own business? What are the cons?
  • Is it better to be a boss or employee? Why?
  • If you were to start your own business, what steps would you have to take?
  • Sallie Krawcheck, a co-founder of Ellevest said, “If you’re starting something on your own, you better have a passion for it, because this is hard work.” What does this statement mean to you? Do you agree? Why or why not?

4. Childhood trends

esl topics advanced

  • What clothing was cool when you were a child? Did you ever own that clothing? Why or why not?
  • How about as a teenager? 
  • What toys were cool when you were a kid? Did you like those toys? Why or why not?
  • Was makeup popular when you were a teenager? If yes, what type of makeup? If not, why not?
  • How did people wear their hair when you were younger? Did you like that style?
  • What games were trendy when you were a kid? Did you play those games? Why or why not?
  • What do you think about today’s fashion trends? Why?
  • What toys are popular with kids nowadays? What’s your opinion about those toys?
  • Do you think any of the trends from your childhood are going to come back in style? Why or why not?
  • If you could give some advice about trends, what advice would you give? Why?

5. Interior Design

esl topics advanced

  • When you are buying furniture, what do you look for? Comfort? Practicality? Style?
  • Where do you buy most of your furniture? Why?
  • Have you put a lot of thought into the interior of your house? Why or why not? 
  • Who has chosen most of the furniture in your house?
  • What are the colors of the interior of your house? Did you choose those colors? If yes, why?
  • Are you a fan of minimalism? Why or why not?
  • What do you think about open-plan living? Why?
  • Have you ever bought furniture off of Facebook, Craigslist, or a similar website where you can buy used furniture from people online? If not, would you consider buying used furniture online?
  • Are garage sales or sidewalk sales popular in your country? Have you ever gone to one? If not, would you consider going to one?
  • Do you like watching house or apartment tour videos? Why or why not?
  • What’s your opinion about design TV shows? Are they popular in your country? Why or why not?
  • Do you like IKEA or similar cheap, practical furniture shops? Why or why not?
  • Do you think you could be an interior designer? Why or why not?
  • What’s your opinion about house plants? Do you prefer fake house plants or real house plants?
  • Is lighting important to you in your house? Do you prefer natural lighting or artificial lighting? Why?
  • What’s the most important room in your house? Why?
  • What makes the houses in your country special? Do they have anything special in the kitchen, have special architecture, or special windows/flooring? What do you consider special about the houses in your country?

6. Animal Rights

Rally, March, Sign, Protester, Mask, Animal Rights

  • How do you feel about zoos? Why?
  • Are there any animals that shouldn’t be kept as pets? Why or why not?
  • Do you think animals feel? Why or why not?
  • Can animals communicate? Why or why not?
  • How do you feel about testing on animals?
  • Whose responsibility is it to protect endangered animals? Why?
  • How do you feel about betting on animal fights?
  • What are your thoughts on racing animals?
  • Would you ever become a vegetarian? Why or why not?
  • How about a vegan? Why or why not?

7. Parenting

esl topics advanced

  • Should parents control the types of TV shows, movies, and music a child hears and watches? Why or why not?
  • Do you believe that it is possible to spoil children? Why or why not?
  • Should parents help their children choose their professions? Why or why not?
  • What are some common punishments in your country? Do you agree with them? Why or why not?
  • Do you agree with spanking? Why or why not?
  • At what age should children get a cell phone? Why?
  • Should vacations be for parents, children, or both? Why?
  • Do you think that there is such a thing as “too much freedom” for children? Why or why not?
  • Do you think that parents are overprotective nowadays? Why or why not?
  • Have you heard the phrase “helicopter parent?” Why do you think about that concept?
  • What do you think of the phrase, “Children should be seen and not heard?”
  • What do you think about the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child?”

8. Service Jobs

Courier Driver, Eat, Delivery Service, Night, Job

  • What are some common types of service jobs?
  • Do you consider service jobs to be “good” jobs? Why or why not?
  • Have you ever worked a service job? If yes, what did you do? If not, would you like to do a service job?
  • Do you think service jobs are respected in your country? Why or why not?
  • Is tipping common in your country? What do you think about tipping?
  • What are some necessary skills to have in a customer service job? Why?
  • Do you think that robots could do some service jobs in the future? Why or why not?
  • Are service jobs more or less stressful than office jobs? Why?
  • What do you think about the phrase, “The customer is always right?”

Waiting, Wristwatch, Man, Watch, Appointment, Time

  • What is fashionable in your city nowadays? Do you like the current fashion? Why or why not?
  • Have you ever bought something because it was fashionable? Did you like what you bought?
  • Have you ever bought something and then not worn it? If yes, what was it and do you still have the item?
  • Do you have any fashion regrets?
  • What’s something that was fashionable when you were younger, which isn’t fashionable now?
  • Do you and your family have different fashion tastes? Why or why not?
  • What do you think fashion will look like in the next ten years or so? Why?
  • Why do you think people like designer brands? Are you a fan of any designer brands?
  • What’s most important to you when buying new clothes and why?
  • Do you like to accessorize? Why or why not?
  • If you could only wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be, and why?

10. Environmental Choices

Plastic Bottles, Bottles, Recycling

  • Nowadays many people are more conscious of the environment. Have you noticed any changes in your community recently in regard to the environment?
  • Eating meat is often said to be a contributing factor to global warming. Would you ever consider cutting back on meat? Why or why not?
  • How about cutting meat out?
  • Another environmental concern is plastic. Would you ever consider going zero-waste? Why or why not?
  • Plastic is also in our clothes. Would you spend more money for ethically sourced clothing? Why or why not?
  • Water waste is another common concern. Would you be willing to have shorter showers or cut back on the water you use to wash dishes? Why or why not?
  • Would you ever try composting? Why or why not?
  • The plastic containers for products like shampoo, body wash, detergent, and other household products are another environmental concern. Would you be willing to use bar soap instead of soaps that come in plastic containers? Why or why not?
  • How would you feel if supermarkets stopped packaging products like rice, fruits, pastas, etc. and you had to start bringing containers from home to package these items? Would you be relieved or annoyed and why?

I hope you and your students enjoyed speaking about these unusual conversation topics.

Why not try some fce speaking practice next, share this:.

Tags: advanced advanced conversation advanced conversation topics conversation conversation topics ESL free interesting Intermediate online discussion Questions speaking speaking practice talk tefl topics unusual

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10 Advanced ESL Activities to Engage Your Students

Too often, the quantity of ESL students talking is given priority over the quality  of the speaking time.

While it’s important to get your ESL students talking, it’s even more important to get them talking well.

But how do you do it?

In this post, I’ll share 10 engaging activities that will get your advanced ESL students practicing the English they know and learning more along the way.

1. Class Debate

2. film a news show or skit, 3. murder mystery party, 4. improv games, 5. record an interview, 6. discussion: speed-dating style, 7. think-pair-share, 8. pros and cons, 10. socratic circles.

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Class debates are an ideal way to get your advanced students talking, especially because there are several opportunities for speaking practice in one activity.

First, break your class into smaller groups of about four or five students. Debating in large groups saves time, but it could cut down on how much each individual student actually gets to say. Depending on the size of your class, you may want to have two separate debate sessions, and have the students who aren’t  participating in the debate judge the results for their classmates.

For the debate, give students an interesting topic and be sure to give them enough materials—in English, of course—to be able to address the issue you’ve assigned. A great way to do this is to choose an issue from current events and give your students access to recent English-language newspapers, either online or in paper form, such as The New York Times , The Wall Street Journal  and  The Guardian .

The New York Times  requires a subscription for full access, as does The Wall Street Journal   (if you and your students use these sources on anything like a regular basis, you may find they’re easily worth the price). You can also give students a choice of three fascinating debate topics and have them vote for which one they’d like to discuss.

Assign each group a side and give students approximately a half hour to prepare their arguments. Each side should be aware from the very beginning that you’ll require an introductory argument (five minutes), rebuttal (two minutes), second rebuttal (two minutes) and conclusion (two minutes). Each student will be required to manage one of these arguments; for groups of five, the introduction can be split in half. This will ensure that all students have the opportunity to speak.

When it comes time to begin the debate, flip a coin to decide which group gives the first argument. Both introductions are then given; encourage all students to take notes during the introductions. After the introductions, give groups two minutes to formulate a rebuttal.

Rebuttals are then given, followed by an additional two minutes for a second rebuttal. Students are given two minutes to edit their conclusions, as needed, followed by deliberation by the jury or the teacher.

Things to Watch Out for:

  • While students are preparing their arguments, be sure to monitor groups to ensure that the preparation work is being done in English.
  • Be sure that students who are giving the introduction and conclusion avoid the temptation to read what has been prepared. Students should be graded on delivery as well as argument.

Filming a news show or skit is a great way for students to include multimedia in their oral English practice, especially if your school has a multimedia lab. Unlike a more traditional skit that students simply perform in class, this concept allows students to use free editing software, such as iMovie for Mac , to edit their films together.

First, decide whether you would rather have students film a news show or a skit. Skits tend to be better for larger groups that are older and more advanced, whereas a news show is better for intermediate learners or when you’re a bit strapped for time.

It can be beneficial to model a news show or skit with native content from FluentU . With this program, you’ll be able to showcase authentic English from video clips of the news or other media. Every video has interactive subtitles that let students pause and check the meaning of any word to avoid confusion.

esl topics advanced

You can also make a flashcard deck with relevant terms from the various videos on FluentU. These flashcards will let students see the word in context in sentences and clips from other videos. You can also use these flashcards to help students learn the words with adaptive exercises .

Once they’ve seen some examples and learned a few keywords, students will need to conceive of the skit and write it. You may wish to give direction as to a topic, especially if you’d like to link it back to something that you’ve been studying.

For example, if you’ve been reading a novel with your advanced ESL students, you may ask them to reinterpret a scene from the novel. If you’ve been working on vocabulary, ask students to incorporate at least ten of their new words into the skit.

For a news show, each student will present the daily news (or invented news!) from each section, i.e. general news, sports news, weather news, local news. This option allows students to still experience the multimedia aspect of this activity without having quite as much to prepare.

Should you choose the first option, you should allow your students at least four class periods to prepare: one to conceive of their skit, one to rehearse, one to film and one to edit. For the news show, you could conceivably do the activity in just three periods—one to write the show, one to film and one to edit. Use an additional class period to have a screening of all of the students’ projects.

  • Be sure to stress that each student must speak in the skit/news show. Some students will have larger parts than others, but make sure that students take turns filming so that they don’t end up behind the camera instead of in front of it.
  • Encourage students to write a script that suggests their lines, rather than attempting to memorize exact lines. This will not only allow them to practice spontaneous oral production but also removes the tedious task of memorization which is not the goal of this exercise.
  • Consider giving students’ skits a time frame, for example five to ten minutes.

A murder mystery party can be a fun last day exercise before a big break or vacation. It’s a bit tougher to grade than some of the other ideas on this list (you may opt not to) but it’s endlessly fun for students and it can be a lot of fun for you as well!

First off, you’re going to have to come up with a scenario and characters. You can make up your own characters or you can use a  guide to murder mystery parties to start off on the right track. You can even purchase murder mystery party kits online.

Next, you’ll need to assign each of your students a character at the party. Each student will receive a card with secret information about his or her character, which the students should keep to him or herself unless asked a direct question by another character, in which case the student has to answer truthfully.

The aim of the game is to figure out who murdered the host of the party by asking questions and snooping for clues. You can leave clues around your classroom ahead of time, making them as simple as notecards describing an item (for example, a silver bracelet with a strange, rusty red stain on it) or you could create actual props, depending on the time you have to work on this project.

Things to Watch Out f or:

  • Be sure to encourage students to speak in English. When playing a game, there’s always a temptation to revert back to the native language, and this should be discouraged at all costs. To keep things going smoothly you’ll need to become part of the game yourself, so don’t forget to create your own character!
  • If it seems as though students aren’t discovering clues quickly enough for the game to reach its conclusion, as the game-master you can give them hints. Just make sure that all students hear the hints!

Improv games can be a great way to encourage students to speak spontaneously, which is a vital English skill.

While there are lots of different  improv games out there, this basic improv game is great for the classroom. It’s fast, it allows students to speak quite a bit and it’s very adaptable, depending on the class that you have.

Choose three students to go on “stage” to start. Ask students in the audience to name a place, which becomes the setting. From here, the students should begin to improvise a scene.

Right before the scene begins, ask each student to take a slip of paper, upon which you’ll have already written a random word. The student must use the word in the skit at some point. Students have only five minutes to finish the skit and use each of their words before another three students take their place.

If you think that students need more guidance, you can also give them characters or a basic premise. For example, “You’re all roommates and you need to talk to Chris about the problems being posed by his pet alligator.”

As students get used to the game, you can also allow audience members to raise their hands periodically and throw in something new when called on. For example, a student might say, “Someone knocks on the door.” Or “A bird flies in through the window.”

  • With games, it’s always better to let the game reach its logical conclusion first and correct, if needed, later. Be sure to take notes so that you can address any grammar issues or other problems that you noted during the game. As always, the best way to correct speech like this is to first repeat or write the sentence the way you heard it, and then ask students to offer a correction.

This activity allows advanced English students to use their knowledge to correct their classmates, which gives them even more linguistic awareness.

First, place your students into pairs. Give students between five and ten minutes to come up with a list of questions—for an advanced class, between seven and ten questions should be enough, as the questions should be open-ended.

Have them download a voice recorder app onto their phones, and allow students to interview one another. A variant of this may be to allow students to take on a persona, real or imaginary, and answer the questions as this persona.

Once the interview is over, have students listen to the recordings and correct themselves and one another. Ask students to justify their corrections, to ensure that they have understood the mistakes that were made. These corrections should be written out and turned in.

  • Students correcting other students can become mean-spirited in the wrong context. Make sure that students are correcting one another helpfully.
  • Ideally, the teacher should listen to all recordings to make sure that no corrections were missed. Have students keep interviews to under 5 minutes, to make this easier for you, and have them share their audio files via Dropbox or email so that you can listen too.

This is a fun one that can be used as a main activity or as a warm-up to a lesson. First, you’ll need to rearrange the classroom a bit, if you’re able to in your teaching environment.

Organize your class into two concentric circles with chairs from the outer circle facing in, and chairs from the inner circle facing out. The structure of this activity is much like the deeply romantic modern courtship ritual of speed dating. Choose one circle to be “mobile.” After three minutes of discussion, students in the “mobile” circle will cycle clockwise to speak to a new partner.

There are a number of ways you can organize the topics they’ll discuss. You could call out a new topic every three minutes, or, to really get your students to develop an opinion, you could have them discuss the same topic with each person in the opposite circle.

Time is of the essence here; it’s best to keep your topics fairly straightforward, as there won’t be much space for reflection as the seconds tick away. I find relatively light topics such as “Is it really that good being young?” “Which are better: cats or dogs?” and “Should students wear uniforms?” are very effective for this format.

When teaching a course on discussion and debate at the Thai university where I work, I always use this activity as an ice-breaker for the students to get to know each other. It warms them up and helps them become comfortable with each other, which can be very important in encouraging students to express their opinions to each other.

  • You might find that students run out of things to say before the three minutes are up. Have some follow-up questions ready in case that happens so you can keep the conversation going. 
  • Listen for common mistakes that you can go over as a class after the activity. 

Also called “Talking Partners,” this activity begins by giving the class a topic to think about. They can think quietly about the topic for a few minutes and are then assigned a partner.

Students will discuss their opinions about the issue with their partner. After a set number of minutes is up, pairs can share their opinions about the topic with the class as a whole.

Possible topics for Think-Pair-Share might include “Nurses should be paid more than lawyers,” “Alcohol should be made illegal” and “Money defines success in life.”

This activity lends itself to easy differentiation: You might pair up a weaker student with a stronger one, or decide to partner two strong students together to keep them challenged.

Likewise, when each pair is sharing their opinions with the class as a whole, you may wish to have each student explain the position of their partner rather than their own opinions. A kind of “devil’s advocate” then can be a useful exercise to lead into more formally organized debates.

  • Again, some pairs may finish talking before the set time is up. If this happens, you can have them give you a quick summary of their opinions and then ask follow-up questions for them to continue discussing. Or, if they share the same opinion, you can ask them to discuss arguments that the other side might use in a debate. 

This simple activity is very useful—whether as preparation for structured discussion or debate or as an end in itself. It can also be a great way for students to reflect on a topic while forming their own opinion.

Pros and Cons involve individually making lists of the pros and cons (or the for and against) of a given topic. It allows the student to weigh the different arguments and counterarguments in their minds.

It can also provide a useful jumping-off point for extended pieces of writing . I sometimes provide students with word banks of target phrases, vocabulary and sentence starters during this activity, helping the students express their ideas more coherently.

When the students have completed their list of pros and cons, they can use this as a basis for writing their arguments in the form of an essay or debate preparation. The list allows them to see points and counterpoints they can develop, and also highlights the fundamental differences between mere propaganda and a well-developed argument that has taken counterarguments into full consideration.

“TV does more harm than good,” “Group English classes are better than private lessons” and “Celebrities are overpaid” can be good starting points to get the pros and cons ball rolling!

  • Picking the topic is an important part of this activity. Try to make it relevant or interesting for your students, but not too advanced for their current level. Again, you can tailor it to the specific vocabulary or topic you’ve been teaching in class. 

An important aspect of discussion is  empathy . The ability to understand things from another’s point of view can be crucial in helping us develop a more sophisticated opinion of our own. “Rounds” effectively does this by putting the student briefly in the position of playing devil’s advocate.

Begin the activity by writing a contentious discussion statement on the whiteboard, such as “Zoos are a necessary way to safeguard endangered species” or “Third-level education is not worth the financial investment.” Have the class divide itself along the lines of for and against, based on their actual opinions. The more contentious the issue, the more beneficial the exercise.

Then, tell students that those who are “for” must now speak for 30 seconds  against the statement, and those “against” must speak for 30 seconds  for the statement. You may wish to have a number of different statements ready to prevent students from merely repeating the arguments of others.

In this activity, the opinions expressed are less important than the intellectual gymnastics required to understand the opposing opinion and formulate an argument against their own stated belief. This is also a useful skill to develop when undertaking formal debates.

  • Since you’re dealing with contentious issues, the discussion could get tense and students could take it personally and get upset. Students could also feel singled out or embarrassed if they’re outnumbered by the other side. You know your students best, so approach this activity considering how they might respond. It could be a good opportunity to talk about respectful disagreement. 

A Socratic Circle is a more formal discussion method developed from the idea of the  Socratic dialogue , whereby we arrive at the “truth” by a process of questioning and answering, then reflecting and critiquing, and finally resulting in a very refined argument or position. In the context of the classroom, it usually revolves around responses to an open-ended question based on a written text.

To begin, assign a suitable text or passage to the class for homework. The students should read, analyze and annotate the text with their own thoughts and opinions. Some very interesting articles to inspire discussion can be found here .

In the next lesson, divide the class into two concentric circles, both facing inwards. Students sit in their assigned circles with their text.

The inner circle then discusses the text, using their notes to help them formulate their ideas. You can use a series of prepared open-ended questions to simulate the discussion.

The outer circle sits quietly while observing closely, and may take notes. After ten minutes (or whatever time is appropriate for your group), the outer circle then provides feedback to the inner circle based on their observations. The groups then switch and the process repeats.

This activity provides excellent training in listening and speaking, and bridges these skills to reading and writing. Generally, the focus of the questions will be a moral dilemma of sorts. This doesn’t mean, however, that it can only be used with older students. Important philosophical questions are raised in many children’s texts too, especially in fables such as “The Tortoise and the Hare.”

As the teacher, you can also differentiate the complexity of the questions in line with the maturity of your students. Usually, the text will be a short thought-provoking piece. While fables work well with younger students, strong, opinionated newspaper editorials are great for older students.

  • Make sure everyone contributes to the discussion rather than relying on the stronger students to do most of the talking. It will quickly become obvious who did or didn’t do their homework! 
  • If it seems like some or all of the students didn’t fully understand the text, take some time to break it down and have the students use context to discover the meaning of unknown words and phrases. 

These techniques are only one element of teaching your advanced students to speak English.

The important thing is to help students overcome their initial fears of speaking and to give them plenty of time to practice.

These activities will let you achieve both objectives!

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esl topics advanced


150 ESL Conversation Starters and Questions (The Essential List)

Do you want your students to be excited to speak with you in English?

Do you want to make sure you always know where the conversation is going and what to say next?

You need engaging content, interesting conversation starters, and questions that really reel them in.

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This list of 150 ESL conversation starters will give you everything you need to make sure you always have something interesting to talk about and never run out of things to say!

150 ESL conversation starters essential list for lessons

Why Every Teacher Needs a List of Starters

Conversation topics for adults and teens, conversation topics for kids, conversation topics for beginners, weird and funny conversation starters, controversial conversations topics, additional tips for your conversation lessons, final thoughts.

If you want to improve your student’s speaking ability you need to master the art of conversation. You need to know how to get your students speaking , move the conversation forward, provide feedback and make it all feel natural. You also need engaging topics and that is where this guide comes in.

One of the problems that can face a teacher is knowing what to talk about. What do you do when you’ve finished talking about work, the weather and then realise that only 5 minutes have passed!

This guide has everything you need to make sure you never run out of topics and most importantly you always have something interesting to say.

It is a good idea to pick a particular topic for a class (or even have your student pick if you want more engagement from them). Once you have that topic then move through the questions, trying to get as much from each one as possible. 

Browse our ESL teacher resources section for more tips and printable lesson materials.

Adults and teens usually know more about advanced topics than children (politics, religion, etc.) That being said, knowing more on these topics doesn’t necessarily translate to being able to speak about these things easily so don’t assume they can do everything. Be aware of your student’s level and be prepared to reframe a question if they are struggling to understand. 

  • Where do you work?
  • Do you enjoy your job?
  • Do you use English for your job?
  • Tell me about your last job.
  • What do you think is the most difficult job in the world?
  • What do you think is the easiest job in the world?
  • Where would you work if you could pick any job?
  • Would you still work if you won the lottery?
  • Do you think robots will replace all of the jobs in the future?
  • Which kind of job should have the highest salary?

In this post, you’ll get 20 topics and activities for Business English lessons.

  • Do you listen to music?
  • When did you start listening to music?
  • Do you play a musical instrument?
  • What do you think the future of music will be like?
  • If you could meet any musician, who would it be?
  • Why do people like music?
  • If you could erase a musical genre, which would it be?
  • Do you think musical success comes from working hard or luck?
  • What was the first album you bought?
  • Have you ever downloaded music illegally?
  • What is a holiday?
  • Do you often go on holiday?
  • Where did you last go on holiday?
  • Where would you like to go on holiday next?
  • Do you prefer relaxing or having an adventure on your holiday?
  • Is it weird to go on holiday by yourself?
  • What is the best food you’ve eaten while on holiday?
  • Can you imagine what holidays 500 years ago were like?
  • Would you like to go on holiday to space?
  • What do you think the future of the holidays will be like?
  • What is technology?
  • What do you think of when you hear the word ‘technology’?
  • How has technology changed in the past?
  • How has technology changed your life?
  • Could you live without technology?
  • Find the full list of technology questions here

In order to engage a child in conversation, you have to enter their world. What is fun for them? What do they like to do? Using words/phrases like “wow”, “That sounds tasty”, “Awesome” can show you are listening to them and make things more fun which will get them saying more!

  • Do you have a pet?
  • What do you think pets do in the day?
  • What do pets eat?
  • Are cats better or dogs?
  • What is the best name for a pet?
  • Would you like a pet spider?
  • Would you like to be an animal? Which one?
  • Why do we have pets?
  • Do you prefer cute or fun pets?
  • What is the best present for a pet?
  • Do you like school?
  • What is your favourite subject?
  • What is your least favourite subject?
  • Who is your favourite teacher?
  • Why do people have to go to school?
  • Do you like homework?
  • What would you do if you were the headteacher?
  • How could schools be more fun?
  • How long are the summer holidays?
  • Can you learn and have fun at the same time?
  • What is your favourite movie?
  • Who is your favourite character?
  • Who is your least favourite character?
  • Do you like disney movies?
  • What was the last movie you saw at the cinema?
  • How often do you watch movies?
  • Do you wish you could live in a movie?
  • Why do you watch movies?
  • Do you prefer reading books or movies?
  • Do you watch any movies in English?

Keeping the topics simple for beginners is a must at the start. Talking about their hobbies and family can help as these are areas they may have already experience in talking about. If a student is really struggling then giving them phrases to use such as “I like …” can help get the ball rolling.

  • What do you like to do?
  • Do you do any sports?
  • What types of movie do you like?
  • Do you play video games?
  • What do you usually do with friends?
  • Is learning English a hobby or work?
  • Do you have any unusual hobbies?
  • Do you have enough time for your hobbies?
  • What is a common hobby?
  • What do you think is a boring hobby?
  • Do you live with your family?
  • How many people are in your family?
  • Are you close with your family?
  • How often do you see your family?
  • What do you do with your family when you see them?
  • Is your family important to you?
  • Which is more important, friends or family?
  • Who is the weirdest person in your family?
  • Are families less important nowadays than in the past?
  • What would happen if we didn’t have families?
  • Where do you live?
  • What is there to do in your city?
  • What is your place like?
  • What is your neighbourhood like?
  • Are there any parks near where you live?
  • Have you ever lived elsewhere?
  • How many rooms does your place have?
  • If you moved, where would you like to live?
  • Would you prefer to live in the city or country?
  • Would you like to live abroad?

Use information gap activities to help your students practice speaking: read our guide.

Nobody wants to speak about the same mundane topics, especially if they’re an advanced student. Being able to mix it up is a great attribute to have as a teacher. Not only will you have memorable lessons with these conversation starters but it will really test the ability of the students to think about topics they aren’t used to (instead of rolling off easy answers about familiar topics.)

Zombie Apocalypse Plan

  • What is your zombie apocalypse plan?
  • Who would you take with you?
  • What would be your weapon of choice?
  • What would you do if a friend got bitten by a zombie?
  • What would you do if you got bitten by a zombie?
  • What food would you take with you?
  • Do you think governments should have a zombie apocalypse plan?
  • Do you think everyone should have a zombie apocalypse plan?
  • Is a zombie outbreak a likely scenario?
  • Why do you think there are so many movies and TV series based on zombies?


  • If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
  • What do you think is the weirdest superpower in comic books?
  • Are some superpowers too powerful?
  • Would you like a superpower where you could turn things into gold by touching them?
  • What is the weakest superpower in a comic book?
  • Have we already seen every kind of superpower possible in a comic book?
  • Are there some people in the real world that have superpowers? (doctors etc)
  • Would you like a superpower where you could turn things into chocolate?
  • Would it be better to be super strong or super smart?
  • Would you like the power to travel through time?
  • If you were granted 3 wishes what would they be?
  • Is wishing for more wishes cheating?
  • Should there be any other rules for people granted wishes?
  • Have you seen any movies with a magic lamp?
  • Do you think there is a better object that could house a genie?
  • Why are we interested in stories of people having wishes?
  • Have any of your wishes come true in real life?
  • Do you make a wish when you blow out the candles on a cake?
  • Is it bad luck to tell someone what your wish is when blowing out the candles?
  • What other ways do people make wishes?

These are topics that you need to be careful with and use your judgement based on the student’s background. You need to wait until you know a student to find out what material is appropriate for them. That being said, If used correctly, then these can be really interesting and get the student thinking about “real issues”. 

Death Penalty

  • What do you think about the death penalty?
  • Do you know which countries still use the death penalty?
  • Why do you think some countries use the death penalty?
  • Do you know of any famous executions?
  • Should the death penalty be outlawed?
  • If we removed the death penalty then what punishment should replace it?
  • What is the most humane form of execution?
  • What would your “last meal” be?
  • Does the fear of the death penalty reduce crime?
  • How has execution changed over the years?
  • What is abortion?
  • Should abortion be legal?
  • Why do you think some people are “pro choice”?
  • Why do you think some people are “pro life”?
  • What do you think of abortion in cases where the baby was conceived due to rape?
  • What do you think of abortion in cases where the Mother’s life is in danger (due to being pregnant)?
  • Should the father “get a say” in the matter of abortion?
  • What advice would you give to a family member who was thinking of getting an abortion?
  • Should people be allowed to protest against abortion?
  • What do you think the future laws on abortion will be?
  • What is corruption?
  • Is there corruption in your country?
  • Why does corruption exist?
  • Would you consider taking a bribe?
  • Would you consider offering a bribe?
  • Are some types of corruption better than others?
  • Which countries have the most corruption?
  • Which countries have the least corruption?
  • Are there any stories of corruption that you can remember?
  • Is it possible to get rid of corruption entirely?

Get a list of 110 “Would you rather” questions for your conversation lessons.

Here are some additional tips to make sure your students are getting the most out of their conversation lessons and will be excited about coming back for more. Some of these will take time to internalize and get right but be aware of them and experiment to get them just right.

Don’t feel like you have to stick rigidly to the list of conversation starters. If a question takes you down a different conversational thread then go with it. The important thing is that the student is talking, you can always return to “the script” later.

Correcting a student immediately can often be useful, but in conversation, it can really kill the flow as well as a student’s confidence if done too often. A good idea is to make notes of any major problems and then mention them after a particular section instead. On top of this, try not to interrupt a student once they are speaking. For each answer, try to milk everything out of them that you can before you have “your turn to speak”.

As well as the frequency of correction, consider the amount being corrected. Don’t feel like you have to correct EVERYTHING. Especially if a student is starting out and is a bit nervous. Pick a few problems areas and focus on that, if you mention too many things at once it can be overwhelming and can really lower a student’s confidence.

Be strict when a student gives you short answers. If a student gives you an answer like “yes” then force more out of them with “yes… because” or “no… but”. The idea is to get them using the language more.

Try to inject some personality when using these ESL conversation topics. It should feel more like a conversation rather than a robot giving an interview.

Some students will struggle with certain subjects as they just don’t know enough about the topic. If it’s a bit of a challenge then push through but if they can’t even talk about a topic in their native language then it may be an idea to move on to another subject.

Allowing a student to pick a topic can be a great way of engaging them more. This also has the added benefit of helping a younger student (such as a teenager) feel more empowered as they can make their own decisions.

Get 18 statesman tips on giving great conversation for teens and adults in this post.

There you have it!

All you need to make sure you never run out of things to say. Get these printed out as your go-to cheat sheets and bookmark this page so you can easily come back to them for future classes.

Hopefully, these ESL conversation starters and questions will spark your own ideas for topics you can use in class. If you are teaching one-to-one, you could even write niche topics especially for that student’s interests (e.g skateboarding, knitting or chess).

Remember, match the topics to the student’s level, keep it fun and once they start talking don’t get in the way!

3 thoughts on “150 ESL Conversation Starters and Questions (The Essential List)”


Very interesting! Thank you.


This is very useful for our speaking club. Thank you.


Glad to hear, enjoy! :)

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6 Absolutely Powerful Discussion Topics: How To Keep Your Advanced ESL Students Talking For Hours

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Advanced English Conversation Activities and Lesson Plan Ideas

If you’re looking for some lesson ideas for advanced English conversation classes, then you’re certainly in the right place. Keep on reading for some of the top picks for TEFL classes for higher-level learners.


Activities and Games for Advanced ESL Lessons

Let’s get into the top activity ideas for advanced ESL classes.

#1: Closest in Meaning ESL Reading Activity

This is a simple reading activity that focuses on meaning. Write one target sentence and then 3 similar ones. However, one should be closer in meaning to the original one than the others. For advanced English classes, this could be very subtle.

Put students into pairs and have them discuss with each other the one they think is the best. Find out more about it:

Closest in Meaning ESL Reading Activity. 

#2: Dictogloss

Try out this challenging listening activity in an advanced ESL class. Find, or write a passage containing the target grammar or vocabulary. Then, put students into pairs and read it out at a faster than normal pace for the level of students.

Students can take notes and then compare them with a partner to try to recreate what they just heard. Repeat the process again and in the end, students compare what they have with the original version.

Sounds interesting? Try it out and I’m sure your students will enjoy one of the best advanced ESL games:

Dictogloss ESL Activity .

#3: 67 ESL Conversation Topics for Advanced English Learners

67 ESL Conversation Topics with Questions, Vocabulary, Writing Prompts & More: For English Teachers...

  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Bolen, Jackie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 278 Pages - 07/12/2020 (Publication Date)

This is kind of the ultimate book for advanced ESL lessons. You can find questions, writing prompts and a vocabulary challenge around centred around one topic. There are 67 lessons so you’ll never run out of material for your advanced ESL lessons again!

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Keep this one on your bookshelf to take to just about any class with higher-level English learners. Check it out on Amazon:


#4: Word Association

It’s often the case that advanced English learners already know a large amount of vocabulary for just about any topic. One way to help them activate this prior knowledge is to use word association. It’s basically a mind map where students have to brainstorm words or phrases related to a certain topic.

In a small class, this can happen with the entire class together. With a larger class, consider putting students into pairs or groups of 3-4 to make it more student-centred. Learn more here:

Word Association ESL Activity .

#5: ESL Reading Lesson Plan

I love to use this style of lesson for my ESL advanced lessons for adults. The key is to find an interesting, challenging reading passage. My go-to source is usually Breaking News English or I use authentic materials from various news sites for the highest-level students.

This can lead to so many other things, including a focus on grammar, vocabulary, etc. It has the distinct advantage of probably being a topic that the students have never talked about before. After all, they’ve covered the weather, types of sports , hobbies, etc. probably a million and one times.

It doesn’t take that long to design your own reading lesson plan if you have a template to follow. Check out mine here:

ESL Reading Lesson Plan.

#6: Information Gap Activities

To get students talking, almost nothing beats information gap style activities. This is where one student has half the information and the other student, the other half. They then have to work together to get the complete set.

There are lots of kinds of these activities, some of which are better suited for beginners but there are certainly some nice ones for more advanced learners. Check them out here:

Information Gap ESL Activities.

#7: ESL Surveys

Just ask my students and they’ll tell you how much I love using surveys in all my classes, from beginner to advanced! They are student-centred, cover a range of skills in a single activity, lend themselves to just about any topic and are fun for the students. In short, the ultimate TEFL activity!

The even better news is that it’s possible to design your own in just a few minutes once you get a bit of practice with it. Find out how here:

ESL Surveys. 

#8: Business English Vocabulary Builder

Business English Vocabulary Builder: Idioms, Phrases, and Expressions in American English (English...

  • 128 Pages - 11/25/2020 (Publication Date)

If your students want to work on their business English vocabulary, then consider recommending this book to them. There are dialogues filled with helpful phrases, expressions and idioms for a variety of situations. Then, there are also opportunities for students to put into practice what they’ve learned.

Check out the book for yourself here:

#9: Future Forms ESL Activities

The grammar of future forms isn’t actually that complicated but there are some subtle differences in usage. For example, why do you use, “going to” and when do you use, “will.” Many English teachers couldn’t even answer that question but there is certainly a difference between them!

Advanced learners are probably quite familiar with all the future forms but consider doing a lesson that combines them all into one. Whenever I do this with my students, it’s quite eye-opening and they really appreciate some guidance with this somewhat confusing thing. Check out my top ideas:

Future Forms ESL Activities.

#10: Freeze Group Writing Activity

Group writing activities are few and far between. Try out this fun one with your advanced ESL classes as a quick warm-up or time-filler. Find out more about it here:

Freeze ESL Writing Activity .

#11: Reported Speech

This is one of those things that has some tricky grammar to it and even advanced students don’t really know the ins and outs of it. This is why it can make a nice grammar point for an advanced ESL lesson. Check out some of my recommendations here:

ESL Reported Speech .

#12: Buy Nothing Day ESL Lesson

In my advanced English conversation lessons, I love to do some holiday lessons around some of the more unusual ones like Buy Nothing Day. There is usually a bunch of vocabulary that the students haven’t heard of and it’s likely that the students haven’t talked about it before, which can create some interesting discussion.

Check it out here:

Buy Nothing Day ESL Lesson Plan .

#13: Advanced English Conversation Dialogues

Advanced English Conversation Dialogues: Speak English Like a Native Speaker with Common Idioms and...

  • 70 Pages - 11/07/2020 (Publication Date)

If your students want some extra practice outside of class, consider recommending this book to them, Advanced English Conversation Dialogues. There are phrases, expressions and idioms for higher-level English learners.

Check out the book on Amazon:

#14: Teaching Collocations

Collocations are groups of words that occur together more often than just by natural chance. Here are a few examples:

  • make dinner

There are thousands of them in any language and it can be quite useful to spend some time focusing on them with advanced learners. That’s because learning a language in “chunks” can make it far more memorable. Find out more about it here:

ESL Collocation Activities.

#15: Opinion Games and Activities

Beginner language learners generally deal with facts. Like times, how much something costs or what color it is. Later on, language learning gets more into opinions and the language required to express them.

That’s what makes giving opinions an ideal topic for more advanced learners. Check out some of the best ideas here:

ESL Opinion Activities .

#16: Brochure Scanning Reading Activity

I love to use authentic materials (those not designed for ESL/EFL learners) as much as possible in advanced English lessons. Brochure scanning is one such activity. It’s also a nice change of pace from reading the usual things found in ESL textbooks.

Try it out with your students:

ESL Brochure Scanning Activity.

#17: 3 Things

Try out this simple, somewhat silly writing activity in your classes. It’s perfect in that it requires no materials or preparation but it’s entertaining and a nice way for students to get some writing practice in. Check it out here:

3 Things ESL Writing Activity .


#18: Find Something in Common

Try out this simple icebreaker with your higher-level English students. It’s fun, engaging and best of all, requires absolutely nothing in the way of preparation and no materials except for a pen and paper. Find out more about one of my favourite advanced ESL activities right here:

Find Something in Common ESL Activity .

#19: Past Continuous for Advanced ESL Lessons

The past continuous is used to describe an action in the past that was interrupted by another action. It’s definitely more of an advanced English concept and it makes a nice grammar lesson for higher-level learners. Check out some of the top ideas here:

ESL Past Continuous .

#21: Vocabulary Auction

#21: Task-Based Language Teaching

I LOVE to use task-based teaching in my advanced ESL classes. Students have to work together in teams to complete a task and the best part is that they have some freedom to complete the task using whatever language they want.

Find out more about this style of teaching, along with some very practical task ideas:

ESL Task-Based Teaching.

#22: Running Dictation

Try out this fun 4-skills ESL activity with your students today:

#23: Small Talk ESL Ideas

Small talk is an important skill for ESL students to master. It forms a variety of social functions but it’s not that easy to do it well. That’s why I like to spend some time working on small talk in my classes, even with higher-level students. Here are some of my favourite ideas:

Small Talk Ideas ESL .

#24: Teach Contractions and Connected Speech

#25: ESL Short Stories

One of my favourite things to do with advanced learners are reading-focused lessons. They start with a reading of some kind and then can lead to all sorts of discussions about the content of that lesson. Check out some stories, along with reading comprehension and discussion questions here:

ESL Short Stories .

#26: After-Reading Activities

With my higher-level students, I love to assign a novel to read for homework. I generally do a chapter each week and then spend some time discussing in class what they’ve read.

Beyond just talking about the book, there are a million and one other things you can do after reading to get the most mileage out of it. Here are a few of my best ideas:

After-Reading Activities and Strategies. 

#27: American English Party Slang

#28: academic english.

It can sometimes be the case that higher-level ESL/EFL students are preparing for an English-speaking college or university. If that’s the case, it’s can be worthwhile to spend some time teaching academic English. The vocabulary and way of speaking is quite different from general English.

Have a look right here at one of the top resources:

Academic English Book .

#29: Debate Club

Organize a debate club where students can engage in lively discussions on various topics. Assign teams or allow students to choose their own positions, and encourage them to present arguments, counterarguments, and evidence to support their viewpoints.

#30: Book Club

Assign a book for the class to read and set up a book club discussion. Students can share their thoughts, critique the storyline or characters, and explore themes and messages within the book. Encourage in-depth analysis and encourage students to back their opinions with evidence from the text.

#31: Case Studies

Present students with case studies or real-life scenarios that require analysis and decision-making. Students can work individually or in groups to discuss the situations, propose solutions, and defend their choices based on critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

#32: Guest Speakers

Invite guest speakers, such as professionals from various fields, to engage in a conversation or question-and-answer session with the students. This provides an opportunity for authentic, real-world conversations and exposes students to different perspectives and expertise.

#33: TED Talk Discussions

Choose TED Talks or other inspiring and thought-provoking speeches for students to watch. Afterward, students can participate in group discussions, share their insights, and explore the ideas presented in the talks.

#34: Cultural Exchange

Organize cultural exchange sessions where students from different cultural backgrounds share aspects of their culture, traditions, and values. This promotes understanding, respect, and open conversations about cultural diversity.

ESL Advanced Lesson Plans

If you’re a teacher, then you know how much time it can save you to use something that another teacher has created! That’s where these sites come in. Check them out:

Breaking News English

English Current

Lingua House

Tips for Teaching Advanced English Learners

Teaching advanced English learners requires a different approach compared to beginners or intermediate students. Here are some tips to consider when teaching advanced English learners:

Provide Challenging Materials

Advanced learners thrive on intellectual stimulation. Use authentic materials such as newspaper articles, academic texts, TED Talks, or podcasts that cover complex topics. These materials will expose them to advanced vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, and sophisticated sentence structures.

Encourage Critical Thinking

Engage advanced learners in critical thinking activities that require analysis, evaluation, and synthesis of information. Encourage them to express their opinions, debate, and support their arguments with evidence. Foster discussions that delve into current events, literature, or controversial topics to develop their ability to think critically in English.

Focus on Nuances

Advanced learners should pay attention to nuances in vocabulary, grammar, and idiomatic expressions. Teach them subtle differences in meaning, register, and usage. Encourage them to refine their understanding and usage of synonyms, antonyms, and idiomatic expressions to express ideas more precisely.

Expand Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions

Help advanced learners expand their vocabulary by introducing advanced words, phrases, and idiomatic expressions. Encourage them to keep a vocabulary journal and explore the usage of new words in different contexts. Provide opportunities for them to use sophisticated vocabulary in speaking and writing tasks.

Emphasize Fluency and Accuracy

Advanced learners should aim for both fluency and accuracy in their English usage. Encourage them to speak confidently and naturally, focusing on appropriate intonation, rhythm, and stress. Provide feedback on their accuracy and help them fine-tune their grammar, sentence structure, and pronunciation.

Incorporate Authentic Language Use

Expose advanced learners to authentic language use by incorporating real-life examples, videos, and audio recordings. This exposure will help them become more familiar with natural language patterns, informal expressions, and cultural references commonly used by native speakers.

Personalize Learning

Allow advanced learners to pursue topics of interest and cater to their individual learning goals. Provide opportunities for independent research, presentations, or projects that align with their interests and aspirations. This personalization fosters motivation and enhances their sense of ownership in the learning process.

Encourage Extensive Reading and Writing

Advanced learners should engage in extensive reading and writing to further develop their language skills. Encourage them to read a variety of genres, including fiction, non-fiction, academic texts, and literature. Assign writing tasks that require critical analysis, argumentation, and coherent expression of ideas.

Provide Constructive Feedback

Advanced learners benefit from specific and constructive feedback. Focus on their areas of improvement, such as grammar accuracy, vocabulary usage, or pronunciation. Encourage self-reflection and self-correction by providing guidelines for self-assessment and peer feedback.

Promote Cultural Awareness

Help advanced learners deepen their understanding of English-speaking cultures by exploring literature, films, customs, and social issues. Encourage them to engage in cross-cultural discussions and appreciate the nuances and diversity within English-speaking communities.

Advanced ESL Lessons FAQs

There are a number of common questions that people have about teaching higher-level English learners. Here are the answers to some of the most popular ones.

What is the highest level of ESL?

The highest level of ESL depends on the scale used at the educational institution. However, it’s roughly an 8.5 on the IELTS exam, or a C2 (proficient) on the Common European Framework or Reference for Languages.

What can you do with Advanced ESL students?

Here are some tips for teaching advanced ESL students.

  • Use authentic materials, not materials designed for ESL/EFL.
  • Encourage free talking and debate.
  • Tailor the lesson to real-life needs.
  • Focus on pronunciation.
  • Teach things like idioms and slang.
  • Teach academic writing.

How can I teach ESL speaking?

Have your say about english conversation advanced.

Do you have any tips, tricks, or go-to activities for teaching higher-level English learners? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think about it. We’d love to hear from you.

Also, be sure to give this article a share on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. It’ll help other busy English teachers, like yourself, find this useful resource.


Last update on 2022-07-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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About Jackie

Jackie Bolen has been teaching English for more than 15 years to students in South Korea and Canada. She's taught all ages, levels and kinds of TEFL classes. She holds an MA degree, along with the Celta and Delta English teaching certifications.

Jackie is the author of more than 60 books for English teachers and English learners, including Business English Vocabulary Builder and 39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities for Teenagers and Adults . She loves to share her ESL games, activities, teaching tips, and more with other teachers throughout the world.

You can find her on social media at: YouTube Facebook Pinterest TikTok LinkedIn Instagram

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