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Modals - Conversation Question Cards

Can you do anything creative? For example, can you sing, dance, play a musical instrument, paint, draw, or write poetry? Name three things you may not do in this class.

What could the opposite sex do to make your life easier?

What are some things you should have done last week, but didn't do? What must you do in your country to obtain a driver's license?

What could you do to make your life more exciting? Why don't you do it? Name two things that you couldn't do last year that you can do this year.

How would your parents punish you when you misbehaved as a child? What could you be doing right now (instead of studying English)?

What more could you be doing to practice your English? How would you recommend treating a cold?

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Unreal Conditionals Handouts

The Second Conditional

The Second Conditional refers to an unreal (or very unlikely) situation in the PRESENT time. The most confusing thing about the second conditional is that we use the PAST TENSE in the "if" clause, even though we're referring to the PRESENT! Consider the following examples:

I am very busy (and very broke). As I'm sitting here in front of my computer, I'm thinking about taking a trip to South America. It would be really nice to go to the airport and get on a plane right now. However, this is completely impossible! I can express this by saying, "If I had the time, I would go to South America." (I could also say, "If I had the money, I would go to South America.")

My friend John is always talking about how expensive restaurants are. He never goes to the grocery store and his kitchen cupboards are always empty. One day he starts complaining again. I say, "John, if you learned how to cook, you wouldn't need to eat out all the time." (It is highly unlikely that John will learn how to cook.)

Okay, now that you understand that the PAST TENSE in the "if" clause refers to the PRESENT time, there is one other rule you should be aware of. (You will hear native speakers break this rule, but you should use it especially in formal speech and formal writing.) If the main verb in the "if" clause is "be," we use "were" with ALL subjects, including first and third person singular. (This is the subjunctive mood.) Consider the following examples:

"If I were rich, I would travel around the world." (UNREAL: I'm not rich.)

"If I were President, I would give everyone free health care." (Obviously UNREAL: I'm not President.)

"If I were you, I would study hard." (Obviously UNREAL: I'm not you.)

"If Napoleon were alive today, he would be fighting a war." (UNREAL: Napoleon is dead.)

"If my brother were here, he would buy me a beer." (UNREAL: My brother is in Costa Rica.)

The Third Conditional

The Third Conditional refers to an unreal situation in the PAST. In other words, it refers to something that did NOT happen in the past, though maybe it was once an option. The most confusing thing about the third conditional is that we use the PAST PERFECT in the "if" clause, even though we're referring to the PAST. Consider the following examples:

My friend Liz likes this guy named Joe. Last week I had a party. Joe came to my party. Liz's parents were in town so she went out to dinner with them. She did not come to the party. I tell her, "Too bad. If you had come to the party, you would have seen Joe."

I took three weeks off work in January. Since I didn't get paid for my time off, I don't have any extra money right now. I can express this by saying, "If I hadn't taken that time off, I would have more money."

(Now that you know the rule for the third conditional, you should be aware that native speakers will sometimes break this rule. In informal conversation people might say, "If you would have gone to Mexico, you would have a tan.")

Vocabulary Cards: Natural Disasters and the Weather

Activity: Vocabulary Review (Circumlocutions Game)

Skills: Speaking, Listening

Level: Intermediate-advanced

Class Time: 30 minutes

Preparation: However long it takes you to print this page, copy onto cardstock, and cut up.

Directions: Divide the class into small groups. (If you have fewer than ten students, you could play together--just pair students and have each pair be a team.) Give each group a set of vocabulary cards. Instruct students to place the cards face down in the center of the group. Play begins by one student choosing a card and providing an oral definition. No gesturing or spelling is allowed. The person who answers with the word on the card gets to keep the card. Play continues clockwise. If a student does not know a vocabulary word, the card is returned to the middle of the deck and the student forfeits his/her turn. Play continues until all of the cards have been defined. The winner is the person with the most cards.

Conversation Questions: Natural Disasters


  1. What's the worst storm you've ever been in? Where were you? What were you doing when the storm hit? Did the storm cause any damage? Describe your experience.
  2. Which of the following natural disasters do you think is the most frightening: earthquake, forest fire, volcanic eruption, hurricane, tornado, flood? Why?
  3. What natural disasters have you (or someone you know) experienced? Tell about what happened.
  4. What's the worst natural disaster your country has ever experienced? What happened? How much damage did it cause? How did the community respond?
  5. Do you know how the following natural disasters are caused: tsunami, drought, tornado, forest fire?
  6. Would you rather live in a climate that is very hot or very cold? What natural disaster risks would you encounter in each?
  7. How has the weather changed during your lifetime? For example, do you think it's gotten more extreme? What do you think will happen with the weather in the 21st century?

Conversation Questions: Socializing & Friendship


  1. Who was the last friend that you met? How did you meet them?
  2. How did your parents meet?
  3. Describe a perfect night spent with friends.
  4. Describe your best friend from when you were a child.
  5. How are your family members also your friends? Tell about one person.
  6. When did you last go out with friends? What did you do?
  7. How often do you go to a bar? Who do you usually go with?
  8. When you're with a group are you outgoing or quiet? Why do you think this is?
  9. What do groups of friends usually do when they go out together on weekend nights in your country?
  10. Do you usually hang out with a few close friends or many different people?
  11. How do you think your social habits would be different if you had grown up in the U.S.?
  12. How much do you socialize with people from work? What do you usually do?
  13. How many friends have you kept from childhood? Tell about them.
  14. In your language, is there more than one word for friend? If so, how are these words different?
  15. Are there things that people do for fun in other countries that you would like to see more of in your country?
  16. How do you think that the way people socialize changes when they drink alcohol?
  17. Tell about the last party you went to.
  18. In your opinion, how do humans socialize differently from other animals? How about the same?
  19. Who's your best friend? How did you meet him or her?
  20. How are the social habits of people who live in the countryside different from people who live in cities?
  21. On average, how long are you usually friends with someone?
  22. Would you rather watch TV alone or with other people? How about going to the movies?

Conversation Questions: Adventure


  1. If you could go back to another time and place, what time and place would you choose and why?
  2. Do you have any tattoos? If so, tell about how you got them. If not, would you ever consider getting a tattoo? Why or why not?
  3. Who's the most adventurous person in your family? Describe what they do.
  4. If you were offered a trip on the space shuttle, would you go? Why or why not?
  5. Have you ever picked up a hitchhiker? If so tell about it.
  6. How much is life an adventure?
  7. Tell about a road trip that you've taken.
  8. Have you ever tried any of the following: bungee jumping, snowboarding, parachuting, hanggliding? If so, tell about it.
  9. When you visit other countries, do you go as a tourist or a traveler?
  10. Tell about an adventure you've had on public transit.
  11. Would you want to climb Mt. Everest? Why or why not?
  12. Have you ever moved to a place far from your family and friends? If so, where did you go and why?
  13. Do you consider yourself an adventurous person? Why or why not?
  14. What's the most exciting thing you've ever done? Tell about it.
  15. How has your idea of adventure changed with age?
  16. Do you think that adrenaline is addictive? Why or why not?
  17. What's your favorite adventure story, movie, or book? Tell about it.
  18. What countries (other than your own) would you like to live in? Why?

Conversation Questions: Animals & Pets


  1. Are cats better pets than dogs or are dogs better pets than cats? Why?
  2. If you could be any animal in the world, what would you be and why?
  3. Do you think it's morally acceptable for scientists to do genetic experiments on animals? Why or why not? What about other types of medical research?
  4. Do you have any pets? If so, tell about them.
  5. What's the most interesting animal you've ever eaten?
  6. What wild animals do you find most interesting? Why?
  7. If you could observe an extinct animal for an afternoon, which one would you choose and why?
  8. Would you like to go on an African safari? Why or why not?
  9. Which animals do you think dream? Why?
  10. In your country, do dogs usually sleep inside or outside?
  11. What pets are most popular in your country?
  12. How are humans like other animals? How are they different?
  13. How many different pets have you had over your lifetime? Which was your favorite?
  14. What do you like most about going to the zoo? What about least?
  15. Can pets become part of a human family?
  16. How can pets help people emotionally?
  17. What was your first pet and how did you get it?

Conversation Questions: Art


  1. Have you ever seen an opera? Have you ever been to the symphony? If so, tell about it.
  2. Tell about the last time you visited a museum. What did you see? Who did you go with?
  3. How much does your country's government support funding for the arts? How important is this expense?
  4. When eating out, what's more important to you: the way the food looks or tastes? Why?
  5. Do you own any original artwork? How did you acquire it?
  6. When you visit another city, do you go to art museums? What's the most famous art museum you've ever been to?
  7. What is traditional art from your country like? How much do you know about it?
  8. What's your most creative pastime? For example, do you like to paint, draw, or take photographs?
  9. Do you consider moviemaking an art form? Why or why not?
  10. What's a famous building in your country? Why is it famous?
  11. Who is your favorite artist? Describe their work.
  12. Do you own any books about art? How often do you look at them?

Conversation Questions: Sleep and Dreams


  1. Do you usually remember your dreams? Tell about a recent dream you remember.
  2. What do you know about dream interpretation? What might the following dreams represent: a dream in which you're flying, one where you're paralyzed, one where you're naked? Have you ever had any of these dreams?
  3. Do you think that animals dream? Why or why not?
  4. Have you ever slept outside for an entire night? If so, tell about the experience.
  5. How many hours a night do you usually sleep? Would you like to get more sleep or less?
  6. Do you believe that dreams can help us solve our problems? Do you try to understand the meanings of your dreams?
  7. Do you ever take naps? If so, when?
  8. Have you ever had the same dream more than once?
  9. Are you a light sleeper or can you sleep on airplanes, trains, and buses?
  10. Have you ever had a dream that later came true? Why do you think this might happen?
  11. Do you prefer to go to sleep late or wake up early?
  12. Have you had dreams in other languages? How often do you dream in English? Would you like to?
  13. Have you ever known anyone who walked in their sleep? If so, tell about it.
  14. Describe a nightmare that you remember from childhood.
  15. Have you ever experienced insomnia? What can you do to treat insomnia? What do you think causes it?
  16. If you could have an operation that would allow you to get only two hours of sleep each night, would you have it? Why or why not?

Conversation Questions: Crime and Justice


  1. Do you always lock your house? What about your car?
  2. How have science and technology changed what crimes are committed? How about the way we solve them?
  3. Do you think that men and women are punished the same for the same crimes? Why or why not? How should it be?
  4. Should users of illegal drugs be put in jail? Why or why not? What about the people who sell them?
  5. Do you think it's possible to prevent certain kinds of crimes? If so, which ones and how? Why do you think that there have been so many school shootings at high schools in the United States?
  6. What do you think are reasonable penalties for people who commit environmental crimes*? *environmental crimes--for example, killing an endangered animal, being responsible for a major industrial accident like Chernobyl or Bhopal, polluting a river, etc.
  7. Have you (or anyone you know) been the victim of a crime? What happened?
  8. What do you think of the death penalty?

Conversation Questions: Drugs and Medicine


  1. Do most people in your country prefer traditional medicine, modern medicine, or a combination of the two?
  2. Do you think there are any legal drugs that should be illegal? What about illegal ones that should be legal?
  3. Do you think that teas and natural herbs can be just as effective or more effective for treating certain illness than modern medicine?
  4. What type of treatment would you recommend to a person who has the flu?
  5. Do you have to pay for medicine in your country? What about other types of heath care?
  6. Do you feel uncomfortable using medicine from a foreign country?
  7. Should doctors be allowed to prescribe a lethal dose of medicine to patients who want to end their lives?
  8. Do you consider alcohol a drug? Do you drink?
  9. Should doctors be allowed to prescribe marijuana? If so, to whom and for what reasons?
  10. Do you think men are more likely to use illegal drugs than women? Why or why not? What about legal ones?
  11. Have you heard any stories of faith healers? If so, tell about one.
  12. What should happen to a person who is caught using illegal drugs? What about selling them?
  13. What would you recommend to treat a hangover?
  14. Can a person become addicted to prescription drugs? Which ones? Are there any illegal drugs that a person can't become addicted to?
  15. Why do you think it takes so long for certain prescription drugs to become available in the US?

  16. Conversation Questions: Entertainment


    1. What do you usually do on the weekends? What did you do last weekend? Do you have plans for this weekend?
    2. What kind of music do you like? Is there any kind of music that you can't stand?
    3. What types of music do people listen to in your country? Is there any type of music that you can only hear in your country?
    4. How popular is live music in your country? When was the last time you went to a concert or live show?
    5. How many different movie genres can you name? Which is your favorite? Least favorite?
    6. What's the last movie you saw? When did you see it? What was it about? Did you like it?
    7. Which American movies have been popular in your country?
    8. How often do you visit museums? When was the last time you went to a museum?
    9. What do you do for entertainment when you're on vacation that you don't usually do?
    10. Do you like to gamble? When was the last time you were in a casino? Did you win or did you lose?
    11. When was the last time you went to a play? What about an opera, a symphony, or a ballet?
    12. How much do you like to dance? When was the last time you went dancing? Did you enjoy yourself?
    13. How often do you drink? What's your favorite drink? Where do you usually drink it?
    14. How often do you go to parties? Have you ever hosted a party? What was it like?
    15. What's the worst party you've ever been to? What made it bad?
    16. Would you rather go to a bar, a party, or a nightclub? Why?
    17. How often do you eat in a restaurant? What's the best restaurant you've ever been to? What's the best cheap restaurant you've ever been to?
    18. Do you have a favorite bar or cafe? Why do you like it?

    19. Conversation Questions: Dating and Relationships


      1. What qualities are most important to you in a partner? For example, intelligence, sense of humor, money.
      2. Would you like to have a boyfriend or girlfriend who was a lot more attractive than you? What about a husband or wife?
      3. If you cheated on your partner, would you tell him or her? Why or why not?
      4. Would you move to a place far from your family and friends to be with the person you loved? Why or why not?
      5. Describe a perfect romantic evening. Is it common for couples to live together before marriage in your country? Would you want to live with someone before marriage? Why or why not?
      6. How old were you when you went on your first date? Who was it with? Where did you go and what did you do?
      7. Would you continue to date someone you really liked if your parents did not like this person? Why or why not?
      8. Would you ever consider using the personals to find a date? Why or why not? Do you know anyone who has had an arranged marriage? Do you think marriages based on love are more successful than those that are arranged?
      9. Have you or anyone you've known ever met someone over the Internet? Do you think that these types of relationships can be successful? Why or why not?
      10. (TO A GIRL) Would you ask a man out? Why or why not?
      11. (TO A GUY) Would you like it if a woman asked you out? Why or why not?
      12. Do women usually work after getting married in your country? Why or why not?
      13. More than half of American marriages end in divorce. What do you think are some of the reasons for this?

      Conversation Questions: The Environment and You


      1. Do you turn off the water when you brush your teeth?
      2. How often do you use public transit? How often do you drive?
      3. Does your community offer a recycling program?
      4. Do you think recycling is an important service for communities to provide?
      5. How often do you throw gum wrappers, cigarette butts, etc. onto the street?
      6. Who usually cleans this up in your community?
      7. What types of energy are popular in your country? For example, coal, gas, nuclear power. What does your house or apartment use?
      8. What temperature do you usually keep your house at?
      9. When you travel, do you usually drink bottled water? Why or why not?
      10. What about when you're at home? In your opinion, what can cities like Sao Paulo and Los Angeles do to improve their air quality?
      11. How are products packaged in your country? For example, how do you usually buy milk, electronic equipment and clothing?
      12. Do you think companies are more or less environmentally responsible now than they were in the past?
      13. Tell about one thing you do to help the environment.
      14. How often do you turn off the lights when you leave the room?

      Conversation Questions: Food


      1. What's your favorite dessert? How often do you eat it?
      2. Do you think you have a generally healthy diet? What have you eaten so far today?
      3. If you could only eat three meals for the rest of your life, what would they be?
      4. If you visited countries where people ate the following foods, would you try any of them: monkey, snake, dog, insects? Why or why not?
      5. What's the last meal you cooked for yourself? How do you make it?
      6. What's a big holiday in your country? What foods do people typically eat on this holiday?
      7. Describe an everyday meal from your country and tell how to prepare it.
      8. What's the strangest thing you've ever eaten? Where were you? Why did you eat it? Would you eat it again?
      9. What foods do you think are most romantic? Why are they romantic?
      10. What foods do you eat when you feel sick or depressed?
      11. In your opinion, which countries have the best cuisine? The worst? Why?
      12. Do you think a vegetarian diet is better than a diet that includes meat? Why or why not?
      13. When did you last go a nice restaurant? What did you order?
      14. When you are eating dinner at a friend's house, do you ever ask for seconds? Do you accept seconds if they're offered?
      15. What is your opinion of American food? Have you tried any regional American cooking?
      16. Are there any foods that you would not eat as a child that you now like? Why do you think this is?

      Conversation Questions: Houses and Architecture


      1. Do you think that old buildings are more beautiful than new ones? Why or why not?
      2. What's your favorite room in the house? Why?
      3. Describe a well-known building in your hometown.
      4. Tell about the last time you visited a famous building or monument. What was it? How did it look?
      5. How important are monuments (like Big Ben or the Statue of Liberty) in defining a nation?
      6. When was the house/apartment you now live in built? How do you think it has changed since then?
      7. Describe your dream house. Describe a building you dislike. Why don't you like it?
      8. Describe your house or apartment. How many rooms does it have? How many bathrooms? Who lives there?
      9. What was the last improvement you made to your house or apartment? Tell about it.
      10. Would you prefer to own a single family house or an apartment? Why?
      11. What city's architecture has impressed you the most?
      12. How do you think ancient civilizations (for example, the Egyptians, Mayans, and Greeks) constructed large buildings?
      13. What do you know about American houses? How are they different from houses in your country?

      Conversation Questions: Learning Languages


  17. What languages have you studied? How well can you read, write and speak each of them?
  18. Have you ever had a friendship with someone who spoke a different language? What language(s) did you use to communicate?
  19. How did it affect your relationship?
  20. Which language do you think is the most difficult to learn? Why?
  21. How do people who come from different regions of your country speak differently?
  22. Do you think it's ever possible to speak a language like a native? Explain your reasons.
  23. What kinds of judgements do you make about people based on their accent or dialect? What does accent or dialect tell you about someone's education, background, or income?
  24. What do you find most difficult to learn in English?
  25. Are some languages more beautiful to listen to than others? If so which? Are there any languages that you really don't like the sound of? Why?
  26. Why do you want to improve your English? For example: work, travel, pleasure.
  27. How is your personality different when you speak another language? For example, are you more or less outgoing?
  28. In what major ways is English grammar different from the grammar of your native language?
  29. At what did you begin studying a second language? Do think age affects a person's ability to learn a new language?
  30. What's the best way to learn a language?
  31. Do you think you learn more English inside or outside the classroom? What do you on your own to improve your English?
  32. Do you like to listen to music in other languages? Do you make an effort to understand the words?
  33. How often to you read in another language? What kinds of things do you read? Why?

Conversation Questions: The Media


  1. How often do you read the paper or watch the news on TV? How important is it for you to keep up with current events?
  2. In your opinion, what has been the single biggest news item from this past year? How did the media cover this event?
  3. Do you think that news reporting has gotten better, gotten worse, or stayed the same over your lifetime?
  4. Do you think a politician's private life is newsworthy? Why or why not?
  5. Are there certain things journalists shouldn't report on? Why?
  6. How do you feel about censorship? Are there times when the news should be censored?
  7. Who owns the newspapers and TV stations in your country? Do you think this has an effect on the news that you hear?
  8. Do you think that the media covers too much bad news and not enough good news? What was the last "good news" story you heard?
  9. How has technology effected the way that we receive news?
  10. Have you (or anyone you know) ever been in the newspaper/on TV? If so, what for?
  11. Do you think that most newspapers print what's really important, or what will make them sell more newspapers? What about TV news?
  12. Why are people so interested in the private lives of celebrities?
  13. Do you think that the media is objective? Why or why not?
  14. What's happening in the news right now, both in your country and abroad? Where did you hear about it?

Conversation Questions: Movies


  1. Who is your favorite actor? Who is your favorite actress? Do you ever wish that they were together in real life?
  2. Describe the best movie set you have ever seen. If you could live on that set, would you? If not, what movie set would be your dream house?
  3. What kinds of movie costumes do you like best? Have you ever worn a costume?
  4. What is the worst movie you have ever seen? Why was it so bad? What would have made it better?
  5. Did you ever imagine becoming an actor/actress? Who would you want to be your leading man/woman?
  6. Do you watch the Academy Awards? Do you ever wish you could go to an awards show and dress up in a fancy dress? Have you ever been to one?
  7. Do you read movie reviews? Do you usually agree with the reviewers' opinions?
  8. Do you think movie stars should be paid millions of dollars? Do you think they are more or less entertaining than sports stars?
  9. What is the best movie of all time? Why is it so good?
  10. What is your favorite line or scene from a movie? What about it makes you remember it so well or like it so much?
  11. Which actor or actress do you think is the most overrated in Hollywood today? Which is the most underrated?
  12. What movie do you wish they would release on the big screen again? What movie would you most like to own on video?
  13. Are videos or DVDs popular in your country? How do people see most movies, at the theater/cinema or at home?
  14. How have TV, cable and the Internet changed the movie industry?

Conversation Questions: Music


  1. How popular is live music in your country? When was the last time you went to a concert or live show?
  2. What kind of music do you like? Is there any kind of music that you can't stand?
  3. What types of music do people listen to in your country? Is there any type of music that you can only hear in your country?
  4. Do you play a musical instrument? What instrument? Did you take lessons?
  5. How many CDs do you own? What kind of music do you have the most of?
  6. Do you listen to music on the radio? How often? Do you have a favorite station? Why do you like this station?
  7. What musician would you most like to meet? Why?
  8. Do you prefer music in English or in your own language? Why?
  9. Why do you think English language music is so popular?
  10. Can a band be a worldwide hit if they don't sing in English?
  11. Do you like to sing?
  12. Have you ever sung karaoke?
  13. Do you ever like to listen to loud music? When?
  14. Do you listen more to words or lyrics? How is this different in your native language and in other languages?
  15. Do you think CDs will ever become obsolete? What will replace them?
  16. How has your opinion of good music changed over your lifetime?
  17. Is there anything you liked years ago that you would not like now?

Conversation Questions: Politics & Government


  1. How are government officials chosen in your country? Do you think this method is fair?
  2. In your opinion, how much should governments contribute to university education?
  3. How interested are you in politics?
  4. What type of information--if any--do you think a government should keep from its citizens?
  5. What do you think is the most important political issue right now? Why is it important?
  6. How much does a politician's personal life effect their ability to do their job? Why do you think the media pays a lot of attention to politicians' personal lives?
  7. Tell about an important political event in your country's recent history.
  8. Why do you think the US government doesn't do more about guns?
  9. What do you think of American politics? Tell about a political person you admire.
  10. How successful do you think the European Union has been/will be?
  11. Is military service required in your country? Do you think it's a good idea?
  12. Do you think it's important for a country to have a strong military? Why or why not?
  13. What do you think of President Barack Obama?
  14. Have you ever been to a political demonstration or rally? If so, tell about it.
  15. Why do you think there aren't more women in politics?
  16. Do you think people pay more attention to female politicians than male ones?
  17. What can governments do about poverty?
  18. The US has one lawyer for every ten people. Why do you think this is?

Conversation Questions: Science and Medicine


  1. Who is the most famous scientist from your country? What did he/she do?
  2. In what ways has science most advanced society?
  3. In what ways has science had a negative impact on society?
  4. What do you think about evolution and other theories of natural selection?
  5. Do you like studying science? Why or why not?
  6. What natural disasters occur in your country? Explain why they happen.
  7. How do you feel about cloning? Do you think it's ethical for scientist to clone animals? What about human organs?
  8. In your opinion, what's the greatest medical advancement of the past century? Why?
  9. How has science influenced the way detectives investigate crimes?
  10. Do you think there is life on other planets? If so, how close is it and what does it look like?
  11. What's your favorite branch of science? For example, biology, physics, astronomy.
  12. Do you know how your computer works? If so, explain how.
  13. How have you personally benefitted from developments in modern medicine?
  14. What do you think will be the greatest medical breakthrough in the next ten years?
  15. What scientist do you respect the most and why?
  16. If you could contribute something to science or medicine, what would you do and why?
  17. In your opinion what has been the most important scientific discovery ever? Why?
  18. How would society be different if scientists hadn't discovered and developed electricity?
  19. How has science helped people to have children? What do you think of this?

Conversation Questions: Shopping


  1. What was the last thing you bought for yourself? Where did you buy it? Why did you buy it?
  2. Do you enjoy shopping?
  3. How often do you go shopping?
  4. How much time do you spend each time you go?
  5. What was the last thing you bought for someone else? Where did you buy it? Why did you buy it?
  6. When you buy something, do you read the label? Why or why not?
  7. What's your favorite place to shop? Why?
  8. Are you a price conscious shopper? What is your opinion of discount stores?
  9. Have you ever been to an outlet store? If you have, where was it and what did you think? If not, would you like to shop at one? Why or why not?
  10. What stores have you shopped at in ___________? What store did you like best and what store did you like least? Why?
  11. Are thrift stores popular in your country? Do you enjoy shopping at thrift stores?
  12. How important is good customer service when you are shopping?
  13. Do you compare prices at different stores when you shop?
  14. How important is it for you to be up to date with the latest fashions?
  15. Is it important for you to own designer clothes? Why or why why not?
  16. What kind of clothes do you like best?
  17. Do you have a favorite type of fabric?
  18. Are a lot of your clothes one color or pattern?

Conversation Questions: Space and Space Travel


  1. When do you think people will visit Mars? What do you think they will find there?
  2. Have you ever used a telescope? What did you look at?
  3. If you could take a vacation to the moon, would you? Why or why not?
  4. Do you wish on stars?
  5. Have you ever seen any of the following movies: ET, Alien, Star Wars? Which one is your favorite? Why?
  6. Would you like to be an astronaut? Why or why not?
  7. What will make the new international space station successful? Why?
  8. A group of stars is called a constellation. Some examples are Orion, the Big Dipper, and Cassiopeia. What are the names of some constellations in your language? How did they get these names?
  9. Do you think governments spend too much money on space programs? Why or why not?
  10. Do you think people will ever communicate with intelligent aliens? Why or why not?
  11. What do satellites do? How would our lives be different without them?
  12. What can we learn about the earth from studying other planets?
  13. Have you ever taken an astronomy course? If so, tell about something you learned. If not, would you like to?
  14. Can you name the planets in English? Try.

Conversation Questions: Technology


  1. Would you consider dating someone you had met over the Internet? Why or why not?
  2. What invention do you think has had the greatest impact on society? Why?
  3. Do you have an e-mail account? What do you use it for? How often do you check it?
  4. What do you think the world will be like a hundred years from now?
  5. Do you think that people will ever visit Mars? How about live there?
  6. In what ways has technology improved our lives? In what ways has it made life worse?
  7. Imagine that you could only use ONE of the following: a computer, a telephone, or a car. Which one would you use and why?
  8. How has the Internet changed the way you live?
  9. Are there some things that never should have been invented? What are they and why?
  10. Do computers save time or do they just make us waste more time?
  11. How "real" will virtual reality become? How has technology effected the way we fight wars? Do you think it makes war more or less humane?
  12. If you had the possibility to only work from your house via computer, would you do it and why?
  13. How much of a risk are computer viruses?
  14. Are cell phones popular in your country? Do you own one? If so, what do you use it for and why?
  15. Which of the following do you own: a VCR, a DVD player. a microwave oven, a computer, a cell phone, and an electronic dictionary? Which do you use most often?

Conversation Questions: Travel


  1. How many countries have you been to?
  2. Describe the best trip you ever took. Where did you go? Who did you travel with? What did you do?
  3. Where did you spend your last vacation? What did you do?
  4. Describe the worst trip you ever took. Where did you go? What made it a bad trip?
  5. When you were a child, did your family take trips? Would you always go to the same place or different places?
  6. What three countries would you most like to visit? Why?
  7. When you are travelling, do you try to speak the local language?
  8. Do you prefer winter vacations or summer vacations? Why?
  9. Have you ever taken a package tour? If so, tell about this experience?
  10. Would you like to take a cruise? Why or why not?
  11. What type of accommodations do you usually stay in when you travel?
  12. Have you ever hitchhiked? If so, where were you and how was this experience?
  13. Where will you go on your next vacation?
  14. What three countries would you least like to visit? Why?

Conversation Questions: Work


  1. What's your ideal job? Why?
  2. How has technology changed business? Do you think it's created more work or less?
  3. Is it typical for men and women to have the same jobs in your country?
  4. Would you prefer to have an easy routine job or a job in which you made a lot of decisions?
  5. Do you think office romances can be successful? Why or why not?
  6. Do you know of any couples who have met at work?
  7. Do people usually work for one company for a long time in your country or is it common for people to change jobs every few years?
  8. Why do you think people in the US change jobs so often?
  9. Describe the first job you had for money.
  10. Would you prefer to work four ten-hour days or five eight hour ones?
  11. In your opinion, which jobs are most prestigious? Why?
  12. How do people address each other at work in your country?
  13. How do you address your boss? Your co-workers?
  14. What do you think of the idea that at most offices in the US nearly everyone goes by their first names?
  15. What three things are most important for you in a job? Why?
  16. Do women usually work after they get married in your country?
  17. Would you like a job that involved a lot of travel? Why or why not? Have you ever known anyone with one of these jobs? Tell about them.
  18. If you could own your own business, what would it be?
  19. Who in your family or among our friends has the most interesting job? What about the most boring?
  20. How important are clothes at work? How does your job determine what you wear in your country?

Conversation Questions: The Paranormal


  1. Have you ever been to see a fortune teller or psychic? If so, do you think it was worth the money?
  2. Do you believe in ghosts? What are they? Have you ever seen or felt one?
  3. What numbers are lucky in your country? Unlucky? Do you have a lucky number? Unlucky?
  4. Do you know of any haunted places? Have you ever been to one of them?
  5. What do you for good luck? Do you think it works?
  6. Have you (or anyone you know) ever had a dream that later came true?
  7. What sign are you? Do you think your personality reflects this? Do you read your horoscope? If so, how seriously do you take it?
  8. Do you believe in ESP? Can some people know what other people are thinking or feeling?
  9. Have you (or anyone you've heard of) ever had an out of body experience? Do you believe there are people who can see things hidden from view?
  10. What do you know about Nostradamus? Do you think that some people can predict the future?
  11. Do you think that UFOs carry visitors from another planet?
  12. How do people predict fortunes in your country? What do you think of these ways?
  13. Has anything ever happened to you that you cannot explain? What other things exist in the world that cannot be explained?

Modals - Conversation Question Cards

See Ideas for Using Conversation Card Sets for activity suggestions.


  1. Can you do anything creative? For example, can you sing, dance, play a musical instrument, paint, draw, or write poetry?
  2. What could the opposite sex do to make your life easier?
  3. Should gay/lesbian couples be allowed to adopt children? Why or why not?
  4. Should marijuana be legalized? Why or why not?
  5. In your country, what might happen to someone who loses their job?
  6. What are some things you should have done last week, but didn't do?
  7. What must you do in your country to obtain a driver's license?
  8. What could you do to make your life more exciting? Why don't you do it?
  9. Name two things that you couldn't do last year that you can do this year.
  10. How would your parents punish you when you misbehaved as a child? What could you be doing right now (instead of studying English)?
  11. What more could you be doing to practice your English? How would you recommend treating a cold?
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