Topics for conversations: Grade 1

These topics have been selected for the usefulness of their vocabulary and grammar. All questions use common, everyday English words. There are not any special or unusual words here. The grammar is typical American or British vernacular and representative of the way Americans, Canadians, and British actually speak. Many questions are repeated in different forms and expressed in different ways, but all of these different forms are in common usage. Students should review these questions to ensure they know all of the vocabulary. These are the questions that will be used in tests and exams for freshmen students. If you know the vocabulary and understand the question, then you will be able to respond well in an exam. There are no “right” answers and “wrong” answers, only “good” responses and “bad” responses.

HOW TO USE: first choose a category for vocabulary practice, then discuss the topics within that category. For example, if you want to practice vocabulary about travel, go to the theme section “travel” and discuss the topics, making use of the travel-related vocabulary you already know, and looking-up any vocabulary you do not know. Use these to test your vocabulary and ability, and to teach yourself new vocabulary so that you will be able to say all you want to say without difficulty in the future.

01: Youth & Old Age

01-01   What do you think is the best age to be (child, teen, adult, senior)?

01-02   If people are  able to (and want to) work, should they still be forced to retire  when they reach a certain age so as to make room for young workers?

01-03   Are there many things that the old people can teach the young or do you think old people are “out of touch” by the time they reach a certain age?

01-04   In Russia, China and many other countries, there is a tradition of choosing leaders who are quite old. Do you think that older people make better leaders?

01-05   China is facing the problem of a “greying population”, i.e. there will soon be more old people than young people. What problems will this cause? How has this affected the one-child policy?

01-06   When a person gets old should he/she be allowed to die whenever he wants rather than slowly dying of old age and disease?

01-07   Should we allow old people to die of “natural causes” (heart attack, old age) or should we try to keep them alive for as long as possible?

02: Animals & Pets

02-01   Do you think it is acceptable to test cosmetics on animals?

02-02   How do you feel about the use of animals for medical research?

02-03   If you could be any animal, which animal would you choose to be? Why?

02-04   Do you think animals have souls?

03: Annoying Things

03-01   Do you get annoyed when someone cuts in front of you when you are waiting in line?

03-02   Do you get annoyed when other people display bad manners?

04: Beauty & Physical Attractiveness

04-01   Does beauty affect one’s success in life?

04-02   Which is it better; to be physically attractive, or intelligent?

04-03   Which is it better; to be physically attractive, or wealthy?

04-04 Do people spend too much time and money on their appearance?

05: Celebrities

05-01  Which celebrity would you most like to meet? What would you do if you could spend a day with this person?

05-02  Do you think famous people have the right to have a private life?

06: Children

06-01   If you could have as many children as you want, how many children would you like to have?

06-02 What is the most important thing that we need to teach children?

07: Cities

07-01   Which is your favorite city in China? Why?

07-02   Which city anywhere in the world would you most want to visit?

08: Classrooms

08-01   Do you think the teacher should assign seats to students in the classroom, or should students be free to sit where they want?

08-02   Do you enjoy changing classrooms for different classes, or would you rather do all of your classes in the same room?

08-03   Do you think students should be told to turn off their phones in class?

08-04   Do you think that the students who sit at the front are the smartest or best?

09: Clothing Styles

09-01   Do you think that the clothes we wear reflect what is inside of us?

09-02   Why is it acceptable for women to wear men’s clothing, but not for men to dress in women’s clothing?

10: Clothes & Fashion

10-01   Do you think that, as a student, it is important to wear fashionable clothes?

11: Colours

11-01   Do you think colors affect your mood?

11-02   Different cultures have different meanings for colors. What do the different colors mean in your culture?

11-03   Which is your favourite colour?

12: Crime

12-01   Do you think people who use illegal drugs should be put in jail?

12-02   Do you think that the punishment for violent or serious crimes should be the same for children as for adults? Why/why not?

12-03   If a person steals a loaf of bread because he needs to feed his starving family, should he be punished and put in jail?

12-04   What do you think is the worst crime a person could commit? Why?

13: Culture

13-01   What do you think is most interesting about Chinese culture?

13-02   What has surprised you most when you’ve met people from other countries?

13-03   How are your foreign language teachers (who are not from your country) different from your domestic language teachers?

13-04   If you could change one thing about Chinese culture, what would it be?

14: Death & Dying

14-01   Are you afraid of death?

14-02   Are you afraid of dying?

14-03   What do you think would happen if people never died, but just kept living  forever?

14-04   Do you think people should be cremated or buried?

15: Dreams

15-01   Do your dreams ever affect your moods?

15-02   Do you believe that dreams can sometimes predict the future?

16: Drugs

16-01   Do you think alcohol is a drug?

16-02   Should there be punishments for using illegal drugs?

16-03   Cancer patients find that marijuana stops their pain. Should it be legal for them to use marijuana as a medicine?

16-04   At what age should it be legal for young people to drink and smoke?

16-05   Why is it that some drugs, like alcohol and tobacco, are legal, but other drugs, like marijuana, are not?

17: Education

17-01   Do you think it is easier to learn as a child or as an adult?

17-02   Why is it helpful to learn a second language?

17-03   Once you graduate from university, should you stop studying and learning?

17-04   Does university education guarantee a good job?

18: Environment & Pollution

18-01   Do you think cars should be banned from city centers?

18-02   Which is more important, increasing people’s standard of living, or protecting the environment?

18-03   Who do you think is more responsible for preventing pollution, individual people or the government?

18-04   What is the most important problem facing the environment today?

19: Family

19-01   Are friends more important than family?

19-02   What do you think of married couples who decide not to have a child?

19-03   What impact has modern day living had on the traditional family?

19-04   Which do you think is more important: following the dreams your parents want for you or following your own dreams?

20: Favorites

20-01   Which is your favorite city in China?

20-02   What is your favorite day of the week? Why?

20-03   What is your favorite food?

20-04   What is your favorite holiday? Why?

20-05   What is your favorite season? Why?

20-06   What is your favorite time of day?

20-07   What is your favorite vegetable? Why

20-08   Who is your favorite super-hero? Explain why.

20-09   Who was your favorite teacher in middle school? Why?

21: Fears

21-01   Are you afraid of ghosts?

21-02   Are you afraid of getting old?

21-03   Do you think young children should be allowed to watch horror movies?

21-04   Is there any person you are afraid of?

21-05   What is your greatest fear?

22: Food & Eating

22-01   Do you like to eat at fast food restaurants?

22-02   Do you like to try new food and drinks from other parts of China?

22-03  Do you think a vegetarian diet is better than a diet that includes meat?

22-04   If you were living abroad, what is the food that you would miss most from China?

22-05   Is there any food that you really dislike to eat? Why?

22-06   Why do you think obesity is becoming such a problem throughout China?

23: Friends

23-01   Do you think it is a good idea to borrow money from a friend? Why or why not?

23-02   How are your friendships different now than they were when you were a child?

23-03   What makes friends different from family?

23-04   What qualities do you think are important in a friend?

23-05   What things should friends never do?

23-06   Do you think it is possible to have a best friend of the opposite sex without becoming a girlfriend or boyfriend?

23-07   Do you think it would be possible for you to still be friends with an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend?

23-08   Do you believe your parents should be your friends?

23-09   What are some ways your best friend has influenced your life in a positive way?

24: Future

24-01   What do you think the future will be like?

24-02   Will robots replace human workers in the future?

24-03   Do you think we create a new problem with each new invention?

25: Gender Roles

25-01   Do parents have different expectations for sons and daughters?

25-02   Should boys and girls be brought up differently?

25-03   Should boys and girls be treated differently by their parents?

26: Generation Gap

26-01   When you are old, do you think you will treat your grandchildren the same way that your grandparents treat you?

27: Goals

27-01   What is your main goal in life? How do you plan to achieve that goal?

27-02   What are your “short term” goals?

27-03   What are your “long term” goals?

27-04   Should parents help their children to set goals?

27-05   Why are goals important?

27-06   Is having a goal in life useful in becoming successful?

27-07   Is having a goal helpful in motivating a person?

27-08   Do you think people have fewer goals as they get older?

28: Gossip & Rumors

28-01   Why do people like to gossip about the rich and famous?

28-02   What are some ways which gossip can be harmful?

29: Health

29-01   Do you think keeping a pet is good for a person’s health?

29-02   How can you reduce stress in your life?

29-03   Should smoking in restaurants be banned?

29-04   What are some things people can do to keep healthy?

29-05   What disease frightens you the most? Why?

29-06   What do you think is the most serious health problem in China today?

29-07   Would you consider donating your organs after your death?

30: Holidays & vacations

30-01   Where is the best place to be for the holidays?

30-02   What was the most enjoyable thing that you did during your last vacation?

30-03   What was the most interesting thing that you did during the last vacation?

30-04   Where is your favorite place to go on vacation?

30-05   Where in the world would you most like to go for your next vacation?

31: Home

31-01   What makes ‘a house’ into ‘a home’?

31-02   What is your “dream house”?

31-03   What do you think houses in the future will be like?

32: Hometowns

32-01   After you graduate do you want to live in your hometown? Why or why not?

32-02   When is the best time of year to visit your hometown?

32-03   Do you hope that someday your hometown would be world famous for something?

33: Internet

33-01   Do you think our lives have been improved by the Internet?

33-02   Do men and women use the internet for different purposes?

33-03   What are some of the ways the Internet can be used for education?

33-04   What is the best thing about the Internet?

33-05   Is it dangerous to meet people on the Internet?

33-06   Would you like to go on a date with someone you meet on the Internet?

33-07   Do you think governments have the right to censor the Internet?

33-08   Can you believe all the information that is published (available) on the Internet?

33-09   Do you think that it is a good or bad habit for young people to play computer games?

33-10   Why should you be careful about giving out personal information to people that you meet in chat-rooms?

33-11   How does the Internet help people from different countries to get to know each other?

33-12   How do we stop young children from looking at Internet sites that have inappropriate content?

33-13   Some web sites hold very dangerous information, for example how to make a bomb. How can we control these Web sites?

33-14   Do you think foreigners use the Internet for different reasons than Chinese?

34: Jobs & Occupations

34-01   Which do you think it is more important, to make a lot of money or to enjoy your job?

34-02   Do you think it’s acceptable for women to be in the military?

34-03   If you could own your own business, what would it be?

34-04   Would you like to do the same job for the rest of your life?

34-05   If money weren’t a problem for you, which job would you prefer to have?

35: Love, Dating & Marriage

35-01   At what age do you want to get married?

35-02   Do you believe in love at first sight?

35-03   Do you think getting married means giving up freedom?

35-04   Do you think if you get married that you will change?

35-05   Do you think it is better to be single or to be married?

35-06   Do you think it is okay for a couple to live together before getting married?

35-07   Do you think it is okay to marry someone of a different culture?

35-08   Do you think people change after getting married?

35-09   How long do you think couples should know each other before they get married?

35-10   If you had to marry either a poor person whom you really loved, or a rich person whom you did not love, which would you choose?

35-11   If you had to marry either an ugly person whom you really loved, or a beautiful person whom you did not love, which would you choose?

35-12   What age do you think is best for getting married?

35-13   What would your parents think if you don’t get married?

35-14   Would you marry someone that your parents didn’t like?

35-15   How would your parents feel if you married someone from a different country?

35-16   Do you think that it is good for children to have parents from two different countries? Why? Why not?

35-17   If two students love each other very much, do you think it is okay for them to get married before they graduate?

35-18   Should universities provide housing for married students?

35-19  Does the easy access to condoms encourage sexual behaviour among teenagers?

36: Manners

36-01   Which culture do you think is the most polite? Explain.

37: Martial Arts

37-01   Do you think it’s useful to study martial arts?

37-02   Do you think it’s important to preserve tradition in martial arts?

38: Memory

38-01   Do you have a good memory or a bad memory?

38-02   Have you ever forgotten something important, like your keys or your phone?

38-03  Have you ever forgotten an important date, like a friend’s birthday or an anniversary?

39: Money & Shopping

39-01   Are you good at saving money?

39-02   Do you sometimes buy things that you don’t need?

39-03   If someone gave you a lot of money, what would you do with it?

39-04   Some people say that “money makes the world go around.” Do you agree?

39-05   How do you think money helps make us happy?

39-06   Should children get an allowance (pocket money) from their parents?

39-07   If you found 100,000 yuan in a bag on the street, what would you do?

39-08   Why do people often want more money, no matter how much they have got?

39-09   Why are poor people in many cases more generous than rich people?

40: Music

40-01   What do you think the world would be like without music?

40-02   Why is music so important to people and culture?

40-03   Do you think music can help to heal sick people?

40-04   Do you think that animals can enjoy music?

41: Single Life

41-01   Why do you think some people remain single?

41-02   What are the advantages of being single?

41-03   Do you think that single people are happy?

42: Social Problems

42-01   Do you think people should be allowed to smoke in public buildings?

42-02   In an overpopulated world, should people have the right to have as many children as they want?

42-03   What do you think is the most serious social problem in the world?

42-04   Does poverty cause crime?

42-05   If you were the President of China, how would you deal with the problems of rich/poor?

43: Stress

43-01   Do you think stress is ever good, useful, or necessary? Why or why not?

43-02   What are some positive ways people deal with stress?

43-03   What do you think is the greatest cause of stress for most people?

43-04   Which would you choose: A stressful job with very high pay or a relaxing job with considerably low pay? Why?

43-05   Is being single less stressful than married life?

44: Supernatural, Ghosts & Superstitions

44-01   Do you believe in ghosts?

44-02   If one of your friends told you they had seen a ghost, would you believe him/her? Why/Why not?

44-03   Do you believe that houses can be haunted?

44-04   How do you know if a ghost is near you?

44-05   If you were a ghost, who or what would you haunt?

44-06   Do you believe in horoscopes?

44-07   Do you think that dreams can help us solve our problems?

44-08   Do you believe that there are many things in our universe that cannot be explained?

44-09   Do you believe in reincarnation?

44-10   If you saw a UFO but were alone and had no proof would you tell anyone?

44-11   What would you do if you were taken aboard a UFO?

44-12   Do you believe there is life on other planets?

44-13   Do you believe in angels?

45: Terrorism

45-01   Why do people use terrorism?

45-02   Why is terrorism used more in some countries than others?

45-03   Do you think terrorism is ever justified?

46: Time

46-01   Are you good at getting things done on time?

46-02   What would you do if you had a few extra hours in a day?

46-03   What would you do with the extra time if you never had to sleep?

46-04   Would you rather have more time or more money?

46-05   Do you think people in America are too concerned with time?

46-06   If time travel were possible, which period of world history would you like to return to? Why?

46-07   If time travel were possible, how far into the future would you like to travel if you could? What do you hope to see?

46-08   If you had a Time Machine, on your time travels, you can take 5 objects to show people what life is like towards the beginning of the 21st century. What five objects would you take? Why?

47: Travel

47-01   How do you spend your time when you are on holiday and the weather is bad?

47-02   If you traveled to South America, what countries would like to visit?

47-03   What are some countries that you would never visit? Why would you not visit them?

47-04   What place anywhere in the world do you want to visit someday?

47-05   Would you rather visit another country or travel within your own country?

47-06   Would you rather travel to a place where there are a lot of people or to a place where there are few people?

47-07   What are some benefits of travel? Why do people travel?

47-08   Do you travel with a lot of baggage or do you like to travel light?

47-09   If you had 100,000 yuan, where would you go on holiday?

47-10   If you are going to live alone on a desert island for one year and can only take 5 things with you, what will you take?

48: Weather

48-01   How can extreme weather conditions affect the economy and social life in countries?

48-02   Do you think weather patterns are changing?

48-03   What do you think is causing global warming?

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