ESL Dialogues & Debate Topics to Help You Teach Conversational Skills

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Conversational skills are crucial when it comes to learning a foreign language. Being able to orally express thoughts in English is especially important for nonnative speakers who are going to move to an English speaking country.

The most efficient ways to develop conversational skills are ESL dialogues and ESL debates. In this article, we will give some examples of English conversation dialogues and ESL debate topics that will help you teach conversational skills to English language learners.

English Dialogues Example #1: Asking for Directions

  • Excuse me, could you please tell me how do I get to the train station/do you know where the train station is?
  • Yes, sure. Go straight ahead for two blocks and then turn right. After that, cross the road at the traffic lights and then turn left near the book store building. The train station is two more blocks away from the book store.
  • Thank you so much! Could you please show it on the map?
  • Yes, sure – here it is. It is a big building with a clock, you will recognize it.
  • Thank you once again! Have a nice day.
  • Thank you, you too. Bye!

For more examples about asking for directions, see this piece.

ESL Dialogue Example #2: Restaurant Vocabulary

  • Hello and welcome to our restaurant. Do you have a reservation?
  • Hello! No, we haven’t made a reservation. Maybe you have a table for two?
  • Just a moment, let me check… Yes, now we have two free tables, one inside and one at the terrace. Which one would you prefer?
  • We’d like the one at the terrace.
  • Great, then let me walk you to your table.
  • (in a couple of minutes) Hello, would you like to order something to drink?
  • Yes, two red wines, please.
  • Nice choice! I will come up later when you are ready to order your meals.
  • Ok, thank you.

Need more examples? Check out our article about food vocabulary.

ESL Conversation Dialogues Example #3: At the Doctor’s Office

  • Good afternoon. I have an appointment at 10 am.
  • Good afternoon. May I have your insurance policy please?
  • Yes, sure, here it is.
  • Great, thank you. Mr. Smith, right?
  • Yes, that’s correct.
  • Please have a seat in the waiting room. We will call you when the doctor is ready.
  • Ok, thank you.
  • (in a couple of minutes) Good afternoon Mr. Smith, how are you today?
  • Good afternoon! I’m feeling not very good. I have constant headaches.
  • How long have you been having them?
  • For about a month.
  • Ok, now let’s measure your blood pressure. I see that it’s quite low. The weather has changed many times this month, so maybe your headaches are caused by low blood pressure due to frequent changes of weather. I will make you a prescription – this medicine should help. If it doesn’t, then please schedule another appointment and we will see if you need further examinations.
  • Ok, thank you very much.

ESL Dialogue Example #4: At the Hairdresser

  • Hello! I would like to make a haircut and dye my hair. Do I need to schedule an appointment?
  • Hello! You are lucky – one of our clients has just cancelled their appointment, so we can take you right now.
  • That’s great, thanks!
  • You are welcome. Please have a seat. Which haircut would you like?
  • I just want to trim my hair a little and refresh my current hair dye.
  • Ok, great! I’ll cut off about an inche, right?
  • Yes, exactly.
  • As for the dye – I guess I have exactly the same shade. Let me check… Yes, here it is.
  • Yes, that’s exactly what I want. So let’s start.

These are only a few of the sample ESL dialogue scripts that your students can act out in the classroom in order to get used to everyday English conversations.

ESL debates make students think critically and begin use language with more conviction. Now we will give you some ESL debating topics that your students can discuss in the classroom. Of course, you should adjust those topics to the age, level, and cultural backgrounds of the students.

ESL Debate Topics

  • Online Communication vs. Real-Life Communication
  • Death Penalty: Yes or No
  • Animal Testing: Yes or No
  • Smoking in Public Places: Yes or No
  • Plastic Bags: Yes or No
  • Internet of Things: Helpful or Dangerous?
  • Artificial Intelligence: Helpful or Dangerous?
  • Are Smartphones Good or Bad?
  • Dress Code in the Office: Yes or No
  • School Uniform: Yes or No
  • Public Schools vs. Private Schools
  • Living in the City vs. Living in Suburbs
  • Second Hand vs. New
  • Paper Books vs. E-Readers

Have you ever tried any of these ESL debate topics?

These are different than ESL conversation topics, because a debate suggests elevated, persuasive speaking. Have you ever tried this with you students? How did it go? Please use the comments section as a platform for discussion.


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