ESL Natural Disaster Discussion Questions

Instructor: Shanna Fox

Shanna has been an educator for 20 years and earned her Master of Education degree in 2017. She enjoys using her experience to provide engaging resources for other teachers.

Getting your ESL students talking may seem like a challenge. Additionally, broadening their understand on a variety of topics is essential. Help your ESL students of any level communicate about natural disasters by using these discussion questions.

Natural Disaster Discussion Questions for ESL Students

An essential component of working with ESL students is to get them talking about a variety of topics. These discussion questions will help you broaden their understanding of natural disasters and be comfortable talking about many different aspects of the topic. These questions can be used with any level of students, although younger students may need additional assistance breaking them down. You could also provide additional support by introducing some essential related vocabulary before launching into the discussion.

You may choose to use these questions in a one-on-one conversation with a single student or provide a list of questions to student teams. Additionally, you could use these questions as a springboard for a whole group discussion. You can also help your ESL students achieve their writing goals by providing a few questions as a summative assessment, after discussion is complete.

Natural Disaster Defined

  • What is a natural disaster? Give some examples.
  • Have you ever been involved in or affected by a natural disaster? Describe.
  • Do you think one type of natural disaster is worse than another? Explain your answer fully.
  • Describe how different types of natural disasters happen in different parts of the world.
  • What are the common natural disasters in your area?
  • Select a natural disaster and explain how it happens. For example, what causes an earthquake? How does a hurricane form?


  • How can people prepare for a natural disaster?
  • Is the preparation different depending on the type of natural disaster?
  • Have you ever prepared for a natural disaster? If so, how did you do it?
  • Knowing a natural disaster is coming can be a scary thing. However, some natural disasters are sudden and unexpected. Which one is worse - expecting it or being surprised by it? Explain your reasons.
  • Why do some people choose not to prepare for a natural disaster? For example, sometimes people do not evacuate areas that may be flooded in a hurricane. What could their reason(s) be?

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