ESL Discussion Topics About Education

Instructor: Jesse Richter

Jesse holds two masters, a doctorate and has 15 years of academic experience in areas of education, linguistics, business and science across five continents.

Guided discussions are a great way for ESL students to improve both language and critical thinking skills. This lesson provides a variety of education-related topics that ESL students may discuss with classmates or answer on their own.

Discussing Education

As teachers, we use a variety of teaching approaches, methods, and techniques to support our students. In addition to general education objectives, ESL students require guidance in their quest to learn English. One way of providing this guidance is to discuss education topics as a regular part of classroom instruction. This is particularly effective as it also creates rich opportunities for speaking and listening practice. Let's explore potential discussion topics about education.

Ready-to-go Discussion Topics

Here are some discussion topics that are ready for implementation. Certainly feel free to modify and customize these according to your own teaching objectives and students' needs.

How Do You Prefer to Learn?

Prep students by providing some ideas. For example, you might explain that learning commonly happens through processes of listening, observing, hands-on practice, and experimentation.

Why Is Education Important?

Encourage students to think about how education impacts not only their personal lives, but also their families, communities and the economy (if age and level appropriate).

How Is Education Different from One Place to Another?

Have students discuss their experiences in other school systems as well as what they may have heard about other schools from friends, family, home countries, etc.

Can Everyone Have Education? Why or Why Not?

This is a good critical thinking exercise to help students reflect on issues of equity, resource availability, and globalization. Even younger students can process these concepts in basic ways.

If You Were a Teacher, How Would You Teach?

This is a great way to personalize instruction and allow students to express their points of view.

What Would You Change or Improve in Your School?

This is very open ended and may lead to some especially interesting conversations!

How Far Do You Want to Go with Your Education?

Get students thinking about future opportunities. Perhaps they have dreams about going to college, graduate school, and beyond.

How Will You Use Your Education in the Future?

This is a way to connect classroom-based education with real-world professional endeavors. You may prompt the students by asking questions such as: Who wants to be a teacher? ...a doctor? ...a musician...? artist? ...a scientist? The possibilities are endless!

Final Tips

Regardless of the discussion topic, you will need to keep in mind the following considerations.


For all recommended discussion topics, you as the teacher may want to pre-teach relevant vocabulary to get the students started. Perhaps make a list of key terms on a display board or worksheet and ensure student comprehension of all terms.

Instructional Context

Be aware of the instructional context and adjust your methodology accordingly. For example, you may find some teaching methods to be more effective and appropriate depending on if you are teaching language learners inside of an English-speaking country versus students in their non-English speaking native countries.

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