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ESL Discussion Questions About Culture

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

Food, history, and traditions all combine to make up the unique cultures around the world. The ability to talk about culture is an important skill for ESL students. This lesson provides teachers with culture-related discussion questions specifically designed for use in an ESL classroom.

Conversations About Culture

Culture is a significant topic for English as a second language (ESL) students, particularly because sharing and discussing their individual cultures is a great way to practice communicating. When students ask and answer questions about culture, they must use the listening and speaking skills they have been developing in class.

The questions in this lesson are divided into levels of difficulty, so be sure to choose questions that meet the level of your learners. It's unlikely that students will know all of the terminology in the questions, so remind them to write down and look up new words in order to increase comprehension. It can also be helpful to read the questions aloud so that students can hear the correct pronunciations of new and unfamiliar vocabulary.

There are three primary ways to use these questions:

  • As an assessment tool to test student understanding and application of material you have taught in class.
  • As speaking practice for pairs or small groups of students. If you use this method, be sure to switch the students around every few minutes so that they can hear and respond to different opinions and viewpoints.
  • As an individual exercise in which students prepare and rehearse responses to specific questions. After a few minutes you can ask volunteers to share their answers with the class.

Easy Culture Questions

  1. Describe an important custom from your culture.
  2. What is your favorite holiday or festival?
  3. If you could change one thing about your culture, what would it be and why?
  4. Would you ever marry a person from another culture?
  5. What culture would you like to learn more about?
  6. Describe something interesting or surprising about your culture that most people don't know.

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