ESL Discussion Questions About Travel

Instructor: Amanda Wiesner-Groff

Amanda has created and taught English/ESL curricula worldwide, has an M.Ed, and is the current ESOL Coordinator for the Saint Louis Public School District.

If you are teaching ESL, chances are, conversation is a big part of your daily routine. Take a look at this lesson for engaging discussion questions and ideas centered on a travel theme. Read on to learn more about getting your ESL students talking!

Conversation in the ESL Classroom

Whether teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) overseas or teaching in the States, chances are a majority of the people in your classroom will have some type of interest in traveling. Regardless of age or language level, there are many ways to get students' involved in a conversation; it is just a matter of sparking his or her interest. This lesson will focus on discussion questions and ideas that can be used in the classroom, in order to engage students in conversations about travel. Grab a notebook, maybe even a globe, and let's get started.

Ideas for Sparking Interest

Before you begin discussions or conversations, it is a good idea to understand the comprehension levels of your students. You may be in a class with students of various comprehension levels, or you may be in a class with students who are within the same range of comprehension. Either way, know where your students are so you can plan your discussions, questions, and vocabulary accordingly.

Next, when you know your topic, spark students' interests by personalizing the first round of questions. You can do this by having students fill out a discussion questionnaire. If students are not old enough to complete the questionnaire on their own, consider asking the questions orally, and writing the answers in for the students. Some example questions are:

  • Have you ever gone on a vacation? If so, where?
  • What is the longest journey you have ever made?
  • Where would you like to go on vacation? Give three reasons why.
  • What are five things you would have to take with you?
  • Who would you want to go on a vacation with? Why?

You could use these questionnaires as a think/pair/share activity to help students engage with classmates, and then have students come together for whole group discussion.

Themed Questions

To further travel-themed discussions, you can group questions into various travel themes, so conversations do not get off track. Students can answers these questions on their own, with partners, or in small groups. If having students converse in pairs or small groups, consider joining together for a whole group reflection, where all students can share their final thoughts. In this situation, implement discussion guidelines, like a talking stick, where the only person holding the stick is allowed to talk, in order to keep discussions under control.

Take a look at the following themed questions; however, modify as needed to best suit your students' language and comprehension levels.

Adventure

  • What type of adventure would you like to go on? Why?
  • Who would you bring with you? Why?
  • What are some things that could be dangerous about this type of vacation?
  • What would you have to do to prepare for this vacation?
  • What is something scary, but adventurous, you would do?

Relaxation

  • Where is the best place to take a relaxing vacation? Why?
  • What activities would be nice to do?
  • Would it be better to take this vacation alone or with a group? Why?
  • What would you NOT want to do on this vacation? Why?

Transportation

  • What is the best way to travel for a vacation? Why?
  • What is the scariest way to travel for a vacation? Why?
  • Would you rather travel by boat, helicopter, or train? Why?
  • Do you think it would be difficult to use foreign public transportation? Why?

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