200+ Language Exchange Questions (Personal & Vulnerable)

Language Exchange Questions: Personal & Vulnerable

These language exchange conversation questions are built to have creative, meaningful, and difficult discussions.

Our main list of questions was designed to make sure no discussion would be offensive despite religion, politics, income, or social status.

But the goal of these language exchange conversation questions is different. Here, you’ll be pushed to express yourself in a very intimate and vulnerable way in order to find your true voice in your target language.

These questions are not provocative on purpose or to “play devil’s advocate”. They are designed to push the speaker to think deeply and honestly about things they have never spoken before in the language.

Why?

Because using a new language can be an amazing opportunity to find new parts of ourselves we never knew existed--but unless we’re given the opportunity, we may never get to explore those sides of who we are.

This list might not be for everyone (and in that case you’ll see links to our other conversation lists below.)

But I invite everyone who is excited about knowing themselves to bravely use this list with people they trust. 

🛑 This list of language exchange questions is NOT for large groups or new partners who don’t know each other yet. I strongly recommend this for friends or groups of 3-4 people who already know each other.

 👇 For larger exchanges or new exchange partners, please see our other lists below. They are equally interesting but were made for comfortable, non-confrontational conversations.

Some Quick Language Exchange Tips

This menu of language exchange questions was created by language lovers who actually use these questions regularly.

So not only are we constantly editing the questions lists, but also have learned from our own mistakes plenty of times.

Here are a few quick tips for using language exchange questions that are this difficult:

  1. You don’t have to translate every question word-for-word. Talking around words or grammar structures you don’t know is a skill by itself!
  2. If a language exchange topic intimidates you, use the questions as writing-prompts the week before your exchange. Are you nervous about certain grammar or vocabulary? Or just about having to process complex thoughts while speaking another language? Use the questions as journaling prompts throughout the week and prepare yourself.
  3. With this list, don’t feel like you have to answer every single question. Unlike our most popular list, these language exchange questions might require high levels of language use. If something is too complicated for you to answer, feel free to skip it and move on.
  4. Don’t over-correct your partner. Unlike our vocab building list of language exchange questions meant to help with technical language skills, this one is meant to be more personal. Unless they specifically want to get a bunch of corrections or need a word, let them work the thoughts out by themselves and encourage them to express themselves to their fullest ability.
Additional Language Exchange Resources We Recommend
Want to practice your target language with native-speakers AND enjoy a Black-centric, pro-justice, pro-LGBTQ+ space? Check out the Language & Diaspora Conversation Clubs!
 

Building Friendships

This section of language exchange questions was adapted by Ingrid from SecondHalfTravels.com for language exchange conversation partners from the NY Times article The 36 Questions That Lead to Love.

We recommend starting with this section to start building up trust with your language exchange conversation partners.

  1. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
  2. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
  3. What would be a “perfect” day for you?
  4. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
  5. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
  6. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
  7. Name three things you and your conversation partner appear to have in common.
  8. For what in your life do you feel the most grateful?
  9. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
  10. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
  11. What do you value most in a friendship?
  12. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are living now? why?
  13. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
  14. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash and save any one item. What would it be and why?
  15. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
  16. Alternative sharing something you consider a positive characteristic in your conversation partner. Share a total of five items each. (In a group, go in a loop, each person giving one compliment to everyone else in the group, until everyone has had a total of 3 turns.)
  17. Make three true “we” statements each. (For instance: “we are both in this room feeling…”)
  18. Tell your conversation partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
  19. If you were going to become a close friend with your conversation partner, please share what would be important for him, her, or them to know.
  20. Share with your conversation partner an embarrassing moment in your life.

Jobs and Careers

  1. Did you have a dream job in high school? When did you decide to pursue it or not pursue it? Is that your job now?
  2. Are you where you wanted to be at this stage of your life?
  3. Who was the best mentor you ever had in your academic or professional life? Do they know that’s how you feel? What do you still carry from them?
  4. Can you talk with your friends about how much money you make?
  5. When are you most dissatisfied with your job, school life, or retirement? What triggers that feeling?
  6. What piece of professional advice would you want to give your younger self if you could?
  7. Who or what might have stopped you from reaching your full potential?
  8. Is it harder to find a job that you love or someone you love?
  9. What was the biggest lesson you learned in your last job?
  10. What’s one interesting piece of information only someone in your line of work would know, and why do you know that?
  11. When someone asks you “what do you do for a living”, how do you respond and how does it make you feel?
  12. What was the biggest mistakes of your career? What was the best decision?
  13. Are you afraid of ageism in your field? Have you ever witnessed it?
  14. What job would you like to have, just to try it, for one day?
  15. What would it take for you to switch careers now? What career would you want to switch to? Would it be worth it?

The Arts

  1. Did you ever want to be a kind of artist or creator when you grew up? What kind? Why did you want to be one?
  2. Do you believe you’re bad at something like drawing, dancing, or singing? When did that belief begin, and what caused it?
  3. Have you ever read or seen a character that reminded you of yourself? Who was it, and what was that experience like?
  4. Have you ever secretly written or wanted to write a book? What was/would it be about? What was/would it be like?
  5. What artist, author, director, or creator has impacted your life the most? How did they do it?
  6. What’s one song that makes you cry every time you hear it?
  7. Do you take selfies of yourself? Why or why not?
  8. Has a series (book or TV) ever changed how you see the world?
  9. What was the best movie you’ve ever seen?
  10. How has your taste in music changed (or not) since high school? What do you think about that?
  11. What is one unpopular opinion you have about movies?
  12. Do you have any songs that make you think of someone in your life? Is it good or bad?
  13. Are you now or have you ever been embarrassed by your music taste? When and why?
  14. What is one fictional character that you have strong feelings for (hate, love, annoyance, anything) and why?
  15. In what period of your life did you read the most? Why?

Gender and Feminism

  1. Are you a feminist? Why or why not? Did you always have that belief?
  2. When was the first time you saw or experienced sexism in your life? How do you think it affected you?
  3. If someone were to ask, what would you say your gender is? How do you identify with that gender?
  4. What don’t you identify with of your gender?
  5. What’s one view you’ve had on gender or feminism that has changed as you’ve gotten older? How do you feel about that change?
  6. How does misogyny affect your life?
  7. What women and/or gender-non-conforming people have paved the way for you in your life?
  8. What did your family expect from you because of your gender growing up? How do you think that affected you?
  9. What are the gender roles like in your house now? What about your other relationships outside of the house? How do you feel about that?
  10. How do you think your culture’s perception of gender has influenced your life for good and bad?
  11. What do you do in your day-to-day life to work towards gender equality? (And of nothing/not much: why not?)
  12. Do you try to read or watch things written by non-male creators? How important are different perspectives for you?
  13. Have you ever, on purpose or by accident, made sexist comments or assumptions? Why? What do you think now?
  14. Would you ever not travel to a certain place because of a fear of gender-based violence?
  15. Do you support gender non-conforming people? (Trans, nonbinary, etc) If you do, how? If you don’t, why not?

Language Exchange Questions about Family

  1. How much do you know about your great-grandparents? Do you know anything about the generation before them?
  2. Do you have kids or plan on having them? Why? Have you ever been shamed for that decision?
  3. Who is your coolest family member and why?
  4. What do you owe to your parents? What do you have despite your parents?
  5. If you could join anyone else’s family, who’s family would you join? Why?
  6. What is your best memory with your sibling(s)? (If you have no siblings, then any family member.)
  7. Have you ever cut off a family member? What would it (or does it) take for you to cut someone off?
  8. What’s one great family story that you or your family love to tell?
  9. How have your family helped you in life? How have they held you back?
  10. What do you think your ancestors would think about you? Is that important to you?
  11. Do you judge parents for how they raise their children? Have you ever been judged (if you have children)?
  12. Do you have “chosen family” in your life? Do you think they’ll really be around forever?
  13. In English, we say “blood is thicker than water”--that family is more important than other people. Has that been true in your life? What do you think about that?
  14. Have you done a DNA test, or do you have any information about your family tree?
  15. How do you act around the small children in your life? Why is that the way you relate to them?
  16. Do your family know a lot about your personal life? Why or why not?

Relationships

  1. What people in your life can you be 100% yourself with? What does that version of yourself look like?
  2. Who are the most important people in your life, and why?
  3. What was the best evening you ever had, and who were you with?
  4. What are some deal-breakers in a friendship for you? What about a romantic relationship?
  5. Who is the oldest friend you’ve had, and how has your relationship changed over time?
  6. Are you able to comfortably talk about sex with anyone in your life? Why or why not?
  7. What were the best and worst dates you’ve ever been on?
  8. Can other people come to you with their problems? Can you give examples?
  9. Who in your life do you regret losing touch with?
  10. Could you invite people from different parts of your life to the same dinner party? Why or why not?
  11. What about you makes it hard to be your friend? What about you makes it easy to be your friend?
  12. Can you be friends with an ex?
  13. Have you ever cheated? Have you been cheated on? How important do you think fidelity is, or is infidelity inevitable?
  14. Are other people’s first impressions of you accurate?
  15. Have you ever seen a friend disappear after getting into a relationship or be the one who disappeared on their friends in a relationship? What was that like?

The Future

  1. What is the scariest part about climate change for you?
  2. What level of personal responsibility do you feel for use of plastic or meat? Do you act according to that feeling?
  3. Are you worried about surveillance? Have you ever had privacy problems because of technology? What do you do to protect yourself?
  4. What are you most optimistic about in the future? What are you most pessimistic about?
  5. What hopes do you have for future humans?
  6. Do you think humans will have water as a human right in 50 years? Do you think individuals, farmers, or companies deserve this right? Where do you draw the line?
  7. What is your biggest dream for yourself? What would you have to do in order to achieve it?
  8. What do you think your generation’s legacy will be like 100 years from now?
  9. Do you think your day-to-day decisions are helping or harming your future self? How or why?
  10. What are you most excited for in the next 20 years of technology or culture? Why?
  11. At what age will you be (or did you become) “old”? What do you think and feel about that?
  12. What is one thing you wish you could communicate to future generations? Why?
  13. What is the biggest thing that are you doing now that your future self will thank you for?
  14. What do you hope to be remembered for?
  15. Where do you think humanity will be in 2,000 years in the best-case scenario?

Religion and Spirituality

This section was written by Kara, a language learner and habit-builder who can be found at @TheWaySheLearns on Instagram.

  1. What is the difference between “religion” and “spirituality”? Can you be one without the other?
     
  2. Is the religion and spirituality of an individual influenced by the culture in which one is born into? 
  3. What religion were you raised with? Is that still the same religion you identify with now? Why or why not?
  4. Do you think humans need religion? Or spirituality? Do you personally relate to either one of these?
  5. Do religion and spirituality influence your beliefs and values? What are your beliefs and values?
     
  6. If you are spiritual, what is an example of a way you express your spirituality in your life?
  7. How would you explain the word ‘faith’ to both people who are and are not religious/spiritual?
  8. Do religion and spirituality influence your purpose in life? If so what is your purpose?
  9. Karma is a common term in society. If you believe in Karma does that mean you are religious/spiritual?
  10. What is your belief as to how and why language was created and bestowed onto humans? 
  11. Do you believe words have meaning? And if so are they are tied to a greater deeper plan for our lives? Could we exist (function as a society) without language and communication?
  12. Why does this world and the human species exist? 
  13. Do you believe in the afterlife? 
  14. Is wisdom something given to us by a higher power? Why or why not? If not how does one achieve wisdom?
  15. What is ‘morality’? Are morality and religion tied together?
  16. What is a ‘moral compass’? How does one develop a moral compass in their lives with or without religion and a higher power?
  17. What are some moral and ethical decisions you have had to make in your life?
  18. Does your religion influence your political choices? Why or why not.
  19. What does it mean to have a “religious experience”? Have you ever had a religious experience?

Social Justice

This section was written by Jamila, who leads the Language & Diaspora program by Jamii Linguists. Language & Diaspora can be found at @jamii_linguists on Instagram.
 
If issues of justice and equity are important to you, it may feel challenging to build close connections with those who don’t speak your native language when you can’t truly communicate who you are and what you believe.  We all have experiences and beliefs that are core to not only who we are, but also how we connect with others and navigate the world.
 
For #MultilingualFreedomFighters and social justice advocates who want to connect and create change in more than one language, here are 16 language exchange questions that will directly or indirectly trigger dialogue related to social justice.
  1. Describe who holds power in your community/country. Do you believe they use their power correctly? Why/why not?
  2. What groups of people would you say have less power in your community/country? Why is that the case?
  3. What values are important to you?
  4. Do you feel free to live life the way you want to? Why or why not?
  5. What changes in the world would positively impact your life?
  6. Are there any jobs you believe would be hard for you to get hired for because of an identity or feature you were born with? (e.g., skin color, hair texture, body type, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc etc) NOTE: doesn’t matter if you actually want the job or not…hypothetically speaking.
  7. Do you and your friends/family often talk about things like “social justice”? Why or why not?
  8. Who is a freedom fighter you admire and why?
  9. What do you think the elders in your community could learn from the younger generation?
  10. What do you think young people in your community could learn from the older generations?
  11. What stories have the elders in your community/family told you about their experiences growing up? How do their experiences differ from yours?
  12. What are offensive terms used towards people in your language that you think I should be aware of (and avoid using)? (e.g., racist, sexist, homophobic language)
  13. What organizations and community groups are engaged in organizing and activism in your community? How do you feel about them?
  14. What are some laws you think should be changed (or created) in your country/community? Why?
  15. Are you politically active in your local community? Why? Why not?
  16. Is there a recent change that occurred in your community/country that you’re really excited about?

Languages

Thank you again to Ingrid from Second Half Travels for her contribution to this section and the next!

  1. Have you ever quit a language? Why? And if not, what’s the closest you’ve come to quitting one?
  2. Can you think of any examples of discrimination built into a language you’ve studied? What could be a possible solution?
  3. When have you felt feelings of imposter syndrome? What triggers it?
  4. Do you feel your personalities change in different languages? What are your personalities like in your languages? Why do you think that is?
  5. Do you think there are any bad reasons to learn a language? What are they, or why not?
  6. Do you identify as bilingual, a polyglot, or multilingual? Why or why not?
  7. How do people normally react when you say you speak various languages? How do you feel about those conversations?
  8. Have you ever seen any form of discrimination in the polyglot community? How did you react?
  9. Do you stereotype or discriminate against some accents? Where do you think those kinds of biases come from?
  10. Have you ever been discriminated against or has anyone treated you differently as a second language speaker? What’s that like for you? Have you tried to change their opinions somehow?
  11. What frustrates you the most in a language teacher or tutor? What bad experiences have you had?
  12. Who was the best language teacher or tutor you ever had? What made them so good?
  13. What’s an embarrassing mistake you’ve made speaking a second language?
  14. What is your strategy for maintaining your second language(s)?
  15. Have you ever held stereotypes against speakers of a certain language, or people who have a certain dialect/accent in your language? How have those views changed (or not)?

Travel

To keep this section challenging, these questions will assume everyone in your language exchange can financially and legally travel abroad. (And we know this isn’t true for citizens of many countries.)

For travel questions that anyone from any country can answer, check out our popular topics page instead.

  1. What was the first time you left the country you were born in? Do you remember it?
  2. What have been your personal experiences of homophobia, ageism, racism, ableism, sexism, or other types of discrimination in other cultures?
  3. What was the best night you ever spent while traveling?
  4. What was the scariest moment you ever had traveling?
  5. Have you ever felt held back from traveling or experiencing another culture because of fear of discrimination?
  6. Are there certain countries you wouldn’t feel safe traveling to because of discrimination? Which and why? Or why not?
  7. Are there countries you’re not interested in visiting for any other reason? Would you be willing to change you mind?
  8. Have you been stereotyped because of your nationality abroad? What have people said to you?
  9. Do you prefer to travel alone or with others? What would make someone an amazing travel companion for you?
  10. When was one time you had to step out of your comfort zone to experience something new?
  11. What is one place you’ve visited multiple times? Why do you go back?
  12. What attracts you to the cultures you love best? What do they offer that your native culture doesn’t?
  13. Could you live in another country for the rest of your life? Why or why not?
  14. Describe an interesting person you’ve met on your travels.
  15. Do you travel with a lot of baggage or travel light? What are some essential things you always bring?
  16. Have you ever had a romance while traveling?
  17. Are there any countries whose citizens you find especially attractive?
  18. Have you had experiences with overtourism (in pre-pandemic times)? Is there a solution to overtourism?
  19. Do you ever take tours -- walking tours, day tours, or longer tours? Do you enjoy them?
  20. How do you pass the time traveling on a plane, bus, or train?
  21. Have you ever had a bad experience with a travel partner?
     

Pandemics, Wars, and Life Changes

  1. How has your life change since, both negatively and positively, the beginning of the covid pandemic?
  2. What did you learn about yourself during the covid quarantines? What did you learn about other people in your life?
  3. What’s the best part about getting older?
  4. What wars have your country been through in your lifetime? Have they (or your country’s military policy) affected you?
  5. Who has it easier: your parents’ generation or your generation?
  6. What was the biggest societal crisis you ever lived through? What did you learn, or how did you yourself change?
  7. Have you ever tried to move out of your country for good? Or: what would the government have to do in the future in order to make you do so?
  8. Do you think everything happens for a reason?
  9. What was the smallest decision you ever made which impacted your life (for the better) in a big way?
  10. What was the best change that ever happened in your life that you had no control over? How would you life look if it had never happened?
  11. Do you have any personal heroes that you look to in a crisis? What is it about them? (And if not: who do you lean on in a crisis?)
  12. Do you feel like you ever have to apologize for or explain your government’s actions when speaking to citizens from another country?
  13. What about your life today (innovation, comfort, or safety) would your ancestors be most amazed by?
  14. Why do you believe humans start wars?
  15. What is one story of hope that gives you faith in humanity?

LGBT+ Conversation Questions

This section is specifically for queer conversation partners and may be difficult for other people to be able to answer.

We’ll also be using the terms “queer” and LGBT+ interchangeably, although for some people those might be exclusive categories. 

  1. How do you currently identify? Is that how you’ve always identified?
  2. Were there any moments as a child where you should have known who you are today, looking back?
  3. When did you first come out?
  4. How do you navigate coming out to people today?
  5. Does compulsory heterosexuality still affect your life as an out queer person?
  6. Are you involved in the queer community, locally or online? Why or why not?
  7. How has bi-phobia impacted your personal identity, relationships, or dating life?
  8. How do you identify across the languages that you speak? Do you find that your identity has to change to fit grammar or vocabulary?
  9. How do you relate to hetro film, TV, and literature? Do you regularly seek out LGBT+ movies, TV, and books? Why or why not?
  10. In the 90s and early 2000s, there was talk of “no one would choose to be gay! It’s not a choice!” But would you choose to be cis and straight if you could?
  11. Do you think heteronormativity exists in same-sex or queer couples? Why or why not? Where does it come from and what does it mean?
  12. What is the place of corporate or product sponsorship at Pride? Would you want to change that?
  13. What is your first memory of how an LGBTQAI+ character was portrayed on TV or in a film? What impact did that make on you?
  14. Has anyone in your life ever had a gender reveal party during a pregnancy? How did you react, or how would you react in the future?
  15. Would you consider traveling to a popular tourist destination like Dubai or Barbados if that place has anti-LGBT laws? Why or why not? 
  16. Are there queer spaces in your local community? What do they look like?
  17. How do you think being a lesbian and being gay are stigmatized differently? Do you think one has it worse than the other?
  18. What do you hate most about how your identity is stereotyped? (Ie: all gay men are flamboyant, all bisexuals are cheaters, etc.)
  19. How do you tactfully ask if someone is part of the community? Do you often ask, or do you have another way of trying to figure it out?
  20. What good things has coming out brought to your life?

Health and Medicine

  1. Have you ever been to therapy? What was that experience like?
  2. Do you trust doctors?
  3. What do you think about cosmetic surgeries? Are plastic surgeries to look more attractive the same as braces? Where do you draw the line?
  4. Will you (or did you) take the covid vaccine? Why or why not? What would it require to change your mind?
  5. Are you an organ donor? A consistent blood donor? Why or why not?
  6. What role do you think diet and exercise play in health? Do you follow that with your own actions?
  7. What healthy habit are you most proud of?
  8. What medical advancement has in the past 100 years has been the most important for your life? Why?
  9. What is your relationship with food like?
  10. Are you worried about the cancers or diseases linked to eating meat, smoking, or the ingestions of microplastics? Do you still eat meat, smoke, or use plastic in your kitchen?
  11. Do you think health care is a human right? If so, would you be ok with your tax dollars going to help deliver medicine to a country poorer than yours?
  12. What is the single least healthy trend or habit at the moment that future humans will be horrified by?
  13. Do you have any funny or terrible stories involving drugs or alcohol? (You can pass on this question if you want.)
  14. Do you make accommodations for people with disabilities in your life? How, or why not?
  15. How do you feel your brain and body are connected? What do you do to keep that connection healthy?

Death and Dying

  1. What do you think happens after we die?
  2. How do you feel when you visit graveyards?
  3. Who is the most important person to you who has died? Why was their life important to you?
  4. Would you rather a sudden death or one you knew was coming?
  5. What does the word “mourning” mean to you? How has mourning looked in your life?
  6. Are you afraid to die?
  7. Do you have any risky or bad habits that might endanger your life? (Smoking, riding without a seat belt, certain sports, etc) Why do you do these things, and are they worth it?
  8. Would you consider a medically-assisted death if it was available to you? (Sometimes called “medically assisted suicide” or “death with dignity”.)
  9. If you could sell a year of your life for cash, what would the minimum price be? (And is that any different than working a job you hate?)
  10. What do you hope the last years of your life will look like?
  11. Do you do or have anything that honors your ancestors? Is that connection important to you?
  12. What are your final wishes? Do you have a will prepared?
  13. Is legacy important to you? How do you see yours after you die?
  14. What do you think makes a good funeral?
  15. If you knew you had one year left to live but would live it in good health, what would you do during that year?

You've Completed This Language Exchange Questions List!

This was by far the most personal of our language exchange question series.

If you haven’t already done our 400+ popular questions, make sure you head there next!

And if you want to really drill into vocab, check out our 1000+ vocab builder questions--perfect for you and a tutor.

Happy Exchanging!

Multilingual Marissa

I'm Marissa, and not only did I fail out of high school Spanish, but I also managed to forget my native language (Polish) in the process. After 10 years of establishing my career in the arts I decided to give language learning one last chance, and many years (and languages) later, I now help others online learn or relearn languages. I now speak English, Spanish, French, Catalan, Portuguese and am relearning Polish, my heritage language. I've also studied Italian, German, and other languages to low- or intermediate-levels for fun. If you want to relearn a language, I'd love to help!

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