'What changes do you see in wild life and natural habitat where you live?'
This is a great topic, it can cover all the different animals, plants, trees. It also lets people explore their fears, such as global warming, the loss of animals and plants and their own fears for the future. The differences between cultures and attitudes about how to treat animals/plants.
This can be used as a launching topic too for other classes as it naturally leads on to so many other topics. People do not have to be an expert to have an opinion on what they see around them.
Witchhunting in the media i.e. the McCann case.
haha amen stella, except i'd go with talking about politics, mostly illegal immigrants
Maybe start out transactional conversation like hello, the weather is lovely today etc, if they're beginners. And then maybe talk about interesting, like historic events, maybe one that you know about or just anything you're interested in. That will make learning English interesting for them aswell.
You can make conversation about themselves and what they do and like - travel, food, jobs, hobbies, sport.
You could use visual aids such as a set of pictures - even ads from magazines will do - and ask them to describe what they are seeing and imagine themselves in that situation - as one of the characters.
Break up periods of talk with written or physically active elements(charades) I know that sounds naff but it can work if it suits your clients. Business men are boring.
I think family life is always an interesting topic. You could start by talking about your own family, and open it up for your students to share and talk about their families. This is a good topic because it gets people involved emotionally as well as intellectually. If you go in simply with the topic and see where it takes you, you can improvise (which I am hardly a big fan of) from there (based on what kinds of responses they give you verbally and non-verbally). For example, if someone says they have family in the US, then you could open up the possibility to talk about US immigration policy, etc. Or if they talk about food, then you could discuss different kinds of foods...etc. If this is simply conversation, you might be able to find some lesson plans that could help you.
I also find www.breakingnewsenglish.com a valuable/excellent newsworthy reference. (If you need pinned down lesson plans, like I do).
Discussing culture is always fun in English class. It more attracts students to study English as a second language when we talk about other cultures and social life.
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