10 Ways of Using Discussion Questions in Your ESL Class

I’ve now uploaded quite a few topic-specific discussion questions and, for some topics, some other online and downloadable resources I’ve found to be useful. Here are 10 ways you can use the discussion questions in your classes:

  1. divide your class into groups of 5 and stick them around your classroom, then put your students in small groups and invite them to walk around discussing their answers to the questions. For some reason, this generally makes people talk longer.
  2. divide your class into pairs and give each student a different set of questions for discussion.
  3. dictate some of the questions to your class.
  4. board the topic, divide your class into pairs or small groups and invite them to make their own questions about it. They can then add these to the questions you have prepared.
  5. give each student a complete set of questions. Ask them to choose their top 3/5 questions to ask their classmates. Divide your class into small groups or pairs and let them ask each other their chosen questions and discuss their answers.
  6. scramble the questions so the words are in the wrong order (I use Wordle to make them look pretty, or put each word in a question in alphabetical order; I have an example lesson showing you how to use Wordle here). Put the scrambled versions around the walls of your class, dictate some of them, or give them to your students, and invite them to put the questions in the right order. They can then answer (some of) the questions in pairs or small groups.
  7. make a gapfill out of the questions and invite your students to put in the missing words. Check as a class, then they can they answer (some of) the questions in pairs or small groups.
  8. dictate some useful words or expressions from the questions, check the vocabulary, then divide your class into pairs or small groups and invite them to write questions using those words. They can then answer (some of) the questions they made, or compare them with the questions here and then answer (some of) them.
  9. distribute question halves among your students and invite them to circulate and find the other half of their questions. Check their questions match or are possible, then they can answer the questions in pairs or small groups.
  10. Use questions you think are more controversial to start a debate.

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