1,000+ Language Exchange Topics (Vocabulary Builders)

After creating our first two lists of language exchange conversation topics, I realized we had a big gap.

While the other two conversation topic lists were super interesting and lead to some amazing stories, they weren’t very helpful for working with my tutors on improving my vocabulary.

And thus: this list of language exchange topics was born!

🏆 The goal of this list is to force the speaker to use low-frequency words and discover gaps in their vocabulary.

It can be used to reinforce an existing lesson or to drill troublesome vocabulary sets.

 ⭐ To use this list effectively, use it at the end of a unit with a teacher or tutor.

For example, if the student just finished a unit about food and dining, use the food section sometime after to refresh and build on what they’ve already learned.

🛑 This list is made to be difficult and is best suited for students working with paid tutors.

 💬 Are you looking for language exchange topics that are more interesting and will keep the conversation flowing?

 👇 Check out our other theme lists!

See Our Other Lists

Most Popular Topics
The Personal / Taboo

A1-A2 Language Exchange Vocab Builder Topics

Time and the Calendar

  1. What is the date and day today? What time is it?
  2. What day was yesterday? What day is tomorrow?
  3. Which days do you work?
  4. When is your birthday? What day and time were you born?
  5. When are your parents’ and siblings’ birthdays?
  6. What are your favorite and least-favorite days of the week?
  7. What time do you wake up and go to sleep?
  8. What is the hardest day of the week to remember for you?
  9. Can you say the days of the week backward?
  10. What do you do on each day of the weekend?
  11. What times do you eat?
  12. What months are the hottest and coldest where you live?
  13. What are your favorite and least favorite months? Why?
  14. Where you grew up, what months did school start and end every year?
  15. Do you have a rainy season? What month was it?
  16. What season is your favorite and least favorite?
  17. Do you know what days of the year are the longest and shortest?
  18. How old are you? How old are the members of your family?
  19. What is the longest friendship you’ve had?
  20. What is the longest you’ve lived in one place? When did you live there? How much time in total?
  21. How many years did you study for? Name the dates and how long of a time it was.
  22. Who is the oldest member of your family, and how old are they? Who is the youngest, and how old are they?

Friends and Family

  1. Who is in your immediate family? Can you physically describe them all?
  2. Who is in your extended family? Can you physically describe them all?
  3. What does a typical family look like in your country? How is yours similar or different?
  4. Is anyone in your family divorced? If not, who do you know who’s divorced?
  5. What does divorce look like in your country? What happens with the parents, children, or extended family?
  6. Are there a lot of single parents in your country? What do those families look like?
  7. Where do grandparents typically live in your country? What is their role in the family?
  8. Can you describe a typical wedding in your country?
  9. What was the last wedding you went to like?
  10. Is polygamy allowed where you live? What about polyamory?
  11. Do you have any step-family or family in law? Do you get along, or is there tension?
  12. When do children leave the home in your country?
  13. What is an example of a mixed- or modern-family in your life? What does that family look like?
  14. Who are your best friends? Can you physically describe them?
  15. Who are some acquaintances in your life? What is the difference between a friend and an acquaintance to you?
  16. Did you ever meet any of your great-grandparents? What do you remember or wonder about them?
  17. Are you named after anyone?
  18. Should people be adopted from other countries into new cultures? Why or why not?
  19. Do you think adoption can be traumatic?
  20. Are you close with your cousins? Why or why not?
  21. What are your best memories as a child? Who were you with?
  22. Who is the black sheep in your family?
  23. Do you think the nuclear family model is beneficial or harmful?
  24. Did you ever have a nanny, caregiver, or another babysitter as a child?
  25. Who in your life influences you the most?
  26. What’s the perfect number of children to have?
  27. Do you have or want children? Why or why not?
  28. What kind of aunt or uncle are you, or do you think you would be?
  29. Describe the perfect family. Do you think that’s a realistic expectation?
  30. What personality traits do you look for in a friend?
  31. What makes someone a good life partner? What do you personally need or look for?
  32. Who in your family understands you the best? Who understands you the worst?
  33. Who in your family would you trust with a secret? Who would you never trust with a secret?
  34. What are the most toxic traits in a relationship?
  35. Who is the most interesting member of your family? What are they like?
  36. Which of your friends lives the farthest away from you? How do you stay in touch?
  37. Have you ever had a guest stay overnight in your house? What is the host expected to do in your culture? What about the guest?
  38. Have you ever thrown a dinner party? Do guests bring anything? Do hosts have to do anything special?
  39. Is it normal for people to have boyfriends or girlfriends as teenagers in your culture? Why or why not?
  40. Who was the first person you dated? If you haven’t dated anyone, what do you imagine first dates look like?
  41. Do people get engaged in your culture? For how long, and why?
  42. How long do people normally date for before deciding to get married or break up? Why do you think that is?

Food

  1. What is your favorite dish? Describe everything in it.
  2. What is the dish you make most at home? Give step-by-step directions, like you’re writing a recipe.
  3. What is your least-favorite food? Describe it’s taste and texture.
  4. What is your favorite restaurant? What do you like to get most there? What is your least favorite dish there?
  5. What is one food a family member makes that you love? Describe it in as many details as you can. Do you know how to make it? 
  6. Do you have a food you eat every day? How do you prepare it?
  7. What’s a food that you love but you don’t often eat? Why don’t you eat it more?
  8. What kinds of animals are normally eaten in your culture? Do you eat them?
  9. What is the most typical dish from your region? Describe it like you’re writing a food critique for a newspaper.
  10. Do you know anyone who struggles with an eating disorder? What do you know about eating disorders? (Student may want to skip this question.)
  11. What is one junk food that you love? One junk food that you hate?
  12. What do you think about fast food? What circumstances do you eat it under?
  13. Do you take any vitamins?
  14. How do you eat healthily? How do you eat unhealthily?
  15. Do you know any vegetarians or vegans? What do you think about that choice for yourself or others?
  16. Do you think children should be given soda at school? Why or why not?
  17. Do you like desserts? What is your favorite kind? Describe it in detail, like you’re writing a menu.
  18. What was the fanciest dinner you ever ate?
  19. What’s your relationship with caffeine like?
  20. What’s the most unhealthy food you eat?
  21. What’s the spiciest food you’ve ever eaten?
  22. What’s the sourest food you’ve ever eaten?
  23. Which fruits do you think are most-often sweet and bitter?
  24. What was the saltiest food or dish you ever had?
  25. Do you prefer salty or sweet foods?
  26. What herbs and spices do you most often cook with at home?
  27. What did you eat for lunch yesterday? Describe it in detail like you’re writing it in a book.
  28. What food do you eat when you’re sad or stressed?
  29. Who’s the best cook you know? What is the best food they make?
  30. Who’s the worst cook you know? Why do you think they’re the worst?
  31. Are you a picky eater? What do you think about picky eaters?
  32. Describe a food you ate today without naming it. Have your tutor or teacher guess what it is.
  33. Describe your favorite pizza topping without naming it. Have your tutor or teacher guess what it is.
  34. What is the cheapest meal you know how to make? How much does it cost, and where do you buy the ingredients?
  35. What was in the last meal you cooked for someone else? How did you prepare it?
  36. What’s the strangest food you’ve ever eaten? Describe it like you’re writing for a food blog.
  37. What beverages do you love or hate with a meal?
  38. What are your favorite and least favorite fruits and vegetables?
  39. What is your favorite holiday meal? Why is it so special, and what’s in it?
  40. What’s the most typical seasoning from your culture?
  41. Are you allergic to anything? 
  42. What are the most typical beans or nuts to eat in your culture?
  43. What are the 5 most important tools to have in a kitchen?
  44. What is one thing in your kitchen you rarely use but keep anyway?
  45. What do you eat most often: rice, bread, or potatoes? What do you eat it in?
  46. Do you believe “we are what we eat”?
  47. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life what meal would that be? How would you like it prepared?
  48. Do you have any religious or hygienic rituals you do before or after a meal? How do you describe them?
  49. Are there any recipes that have been passed down through generations in your family? What are they?
  50. Do you tip servers in restaurants where you’re from? What do you think about tipping?
  51. What was the most recent new food you tried?
  52. What utensils do you use when you eat most commonly?
  53. Do you have any food that makes you think of your best friend? What is it?
  54. Are there any herbs or spices you hate?
  55. What’s your favorite sauce to add to a meal? Do you know what it’s made of?
  56. Do you often get take-out food? What do you most often get?
  57. What’s one meal that you love but can’t cook yourself? Why do you think you can’t cook it?

Language Exchange Questions about Music

  1. What genres of music do you like and not like?
  2. Do you have experience playing any musical instruments? When and why?
  3. What do you think about music videos? What makes a good music video or a bad music video? What is the value of them?
  4. Have you ever done karaoke? Why or why not?
  5. Do you think there is a relationship between certain drugs and certain types of music? Why or why not? What about violence and music?
  6. What is your all-time favorite band? Can you talk about when you first discovered them?
  7. Where do you get your music from today? Do you have any physical collections of music?
  8. What is the most under-rated music? What about the most over-rated?
  9. What kind of music was popular when you were in high school? What do you think about that now, looking back?
  10. What kind of music did your parents listen to? Do you have any feelings or memories attached to that genre or those bands?
  11. How have your music tastes changed over time?
  12. What’s your favorite language to listen to music in?
  13. With online streaming, it’s becoming increasingly hard for musicians to make a living. Have you ever supported a musician financially in any way? Have you ever pirated music?
  14. Do you think animals can enjoy music? Why or why not?
  15. If you’ve ever played an instrument, what were the most difficult parts of learning it?
  16. What do you think the most beautiful sounding instrument is?
  17. Do you think drugs increase a musician’s ability to be an artist, or harm it? Can you give examples?
  18. What can you learn about a culture through their music?
  19. If you could meet any musician in the world, who would it be and why? (You can use a time machine if you need.)
  20. What do your think the hardest part about making original music is?

Books and Literature

  1. Who do you think the most important writer of all times is in your language? Why?
  2. What are your favorite and least favorite genres of writing?
  3. Do you think movie adaptations are better than the original books? Why or why not?
  4. What were the best and worst movie adaptations you’ve ever seen? What made them that way?
  5. What makes a love story good or bad?
  6. What is the role of the library in today’s day?
  7. How can you use literature to get to know a culture?
  8. What makes a book a “classic”?
  9. What was the most recent book your read? Can you describe the plot in detail without spoilers?
  10. What was the last book you quit reading before you finished it? At what part did you quit it, and why?
  11. Do you collect books? Why or why not?
  12. What is your favorite book you’ve ever read and why?
  13. What makes a book a best-seller? Is being a best-seller a sign of a book’s value?
  14. What was the most recent book you read? Can you describe the plot in detail?
  15. Who is the best character in any book you’ve ever read? Why?
  16. Who was the worst character in any book you’ve ever read? Why?
  17. How do you decide if you will recommend someone a book or not? 
  18. What does your ideal reading space look like? Describe it in detail.
  19. What’s the most important piece of writing that’s ever been written? Why?
  20. Do you lend books to your friends? Why or why not?
  21. What was the most interesting thing you ever wrote about in school or university?
  22. Have you ever written a book? What was it about?

Movies and Series

  1. What is your all-time favorite movie? Why do you love it? What’s the plot, without any spoilers?
  2. What is your all-time favorite show? Why do you love it? What’s the plot, without any spoilers?
  3. Do you like horror movies? Why or why not, exactly?
  4. What do you think is the most difficult part of movie production? What do you think is the easiest?
  5. If you were to make a movie, what role would you want to play? Director, actor, or something else?
  6. Who do you think plays the most important part in making a movie or show? Directors, writers, actors, or someone else? Why?
  7. What do you think of the reality shows?
  8. What was the last movie you watched? What was it about, in as much detail as possible?
  9. What was the last show you watched? What was it about, in as much detail as possible?
  10. What do you think we can learn from fictional films or series?
  11. What was the last movie or series you saw that made you cry?
  12. What rating systems exist in your country for movies or TV? How are they created and what do you think about them?
  13. What is the most classic movie of all times from your language or culture? Why do you think it’s so popular?
  14. What is the most beautiful movie or show you’ve ever seen? What made it so beautiful?
  15. What makes a good actor? What about a good director?
  16. What clichés happen too often in movies?
  17. If you could live your real-life inside any TV or movie universe, which universe would it be? What would be the first thing you’d want to do and the thing you would look forward to most? What would be the worst part?
  18. What details ruin a movie for you?
  19. What food or drinks are sold in movie theatres where you live? What are your favorites?
  20. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of animated films over live-action films?
  21. How do you decide what movie you want to see when picking one?
  22. What was the most boring movie you’ve ever seen? How would you have improved it?

Language Exchange Questions about Sports

  1. What are your favorite to watch or play? Explain the rules like your speaking partner has never heard of the game before.
  2. What is the most boring sport to play or watch? Explain what you dislike the most about it like your speaking partner has never heard of the game before.
  3. What makes a sport exciting or boring to watch?
  4. Have you ever played a sport before? What did you do for practice? What did you do in a competition? Answer in as much detail as possible.
  5. Should all children play sports? Why or why not?
  6. What are the most common sports for children to play where you’re from? Why? What about adults?
  7. Is golf a sport? What about car races?
  8. What are the seasonal sports where you live? Why do you think there are certain seasons for them?
  9. What happened at the last match you went to? Can you describe the game or competition in as much detail as possible?
  10. What do you think about gambling on sports?
  11. Who are your favorite athletes? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  12. What do you think about the Olympics city selection process? What about the local economic devastation after the games?
  13. What are the benefits of sports on your body? What about on your mind? Name as many as you can.
  14. Are there any sports that you would like to do if you had more money? What makes them so expensive?
  15. What characteristics separate a professional athlete from an amateur? Do you think everyone has what it takes, or is there a natural talent involved?
  16. What skills does a good coach or trainer need? Where do they learn those skills?
  17. What makes a bad referee? Give 3 examples of bad calls you’ve seen in your life.
  18. How do steroids affect an athlete’s body? Explain in as much detail as possible.
  19. Should we allow a sports league or event where steroids or performance-enhancing drugs are allowed? Just to see how far humans can go with science? What are the potential benefits or dangers in that?
  20. In your favorite sport, what can an athlete have a penalty for doing? Give as many examples as possible.
  21. Who is the greatest athlete of all times? How do you qualify greatness?
  22. There have been cases of judges disqualifying certain moves in some sports (Surya Bonaly’s figure skating backflip; the Korbut flip in gymnastics) because they cannot be done by all athletes so they are considered “too dangerous”. What do you think about that?
  23. What new sports do you think we will see in the Olympics in 20 years? What do you think about those changes?

Jobs and Careers

CAREER QUESTIONS

  1. What professional field do you work in, and why did you choose it?
  2. What is a typical day like at your job, in as much detail as possible?
  3. What was your first job? What were your responsibilities, in as much detail as possible?
  4. What was the worst day of work you ever had, in as much detail as possible?
  5. what was the best day of work you ever had, in as much detail as possible?
  6. What are some employee-protection laws where you live?
  7. How does the average company pay their employees, in as much detail as possible?
  8. What kind of skills are required for your job? Where would you suggest someone learn them?
  9. What is the best career advice you’ve ever been given?
  10. What kind of equipment, technology, or programs do you work with?
  11. What makes a job satisfying to have? Have you ever had a truly satisfying job?
  12. What is one job you’d love to have for just one day? Why?
  13. What do you think the hardest job in the world is? Why?
  14. How do you invasion your retirement, in as much detail as possible? What will your daily life look like? What do you need to do to get there?
  15. What’s the difference between a hard worker and a workaholic?
  16. What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a job outdoors?
  17. What was the hardest project or task you’ve ever been given at work? Describe it in as much detail as possible.
  18. If you could start over, what decisions would you make differently in education or your career?
  19. What are the most unfair labor practices in your country?
  20. What qualities should a good boss have?
  21. What are the most common questions to get asked in an interview?
  22. How are work relationships and friendships different in what you discuss together, how you act, and when you see each other? Compare and contrast in as much detail as possible.

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

  1. Can you tell me something about yourself?
  2. What are you looking for in a new job?
  3. What was the last job you had, and why did you leave?
  4. Do you like to work on a team or independently?
  5. What do you think are some of the most important trends in your professional industry?
  6. What professional podcasts, blogs, magazines, or papers do you subscribe to and why?
  7. What did you study at university?
  8. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  9. What is the best work environment for you?
  10. What do you do in your free time?
  11. What do you think of your last boss?
  12. What is one thing you can do that no one else can?

Schools

  1. What is the most useful subject students study? How many real-life applications can you name?
  2. What was the least-useful thing you learned in school? How much of it can you still remember and explain?
  3. What was your favorite subject? What was your favorite unit or lesson you took in it? Try to teach it as best as you can, or give a summary.
  4. What do you know about the scientific method? Explain it as well as you can.
  5. What roll did you play in group projects in school? How did you feel about projects like that?
  6. What was your favorite place in your last school or campus? Describe it in detail.
  7. What was your study schedule like when you were a student? What techniques were most and least helpful for you?
  8. Why should someone not go to university? Try to persuade your lecture partner not to go back.
  9. What is the most important reason to go do university? Try to persuade your lecture partner to get an additional degree.
  10. What kind of scholarships exist where you’re from? Name as many types as you can.
  11. How are levels, grades, or marks measured where you live? Describe the difference.
  12. If you were principal of your last school or president of your last university, what is the first change you would make and why?
  13. What were the most common types of assignments given where you studied?
  14. What is your best memory of being a student?
  15. what is your worst memory of being a student?
  16. What kind of student organizations are normal where you live? Did you ever join any?
  17. What does a typical school lunch look like? Describe the food, the room, and everything else about the break as if your conversation partner has never had a school lunch break.
  18. What was gym class like? List all of the activities you can remember and what you did or thought of them.
  19. What would make a teacher good or bad?
  20. Who was your best teacher, and what is your best memory of them?
  21. Who was your worst teacher, and what was your worst memory of them?
  22. What did classrooms in your last school or university look like?
  23. What do uniforms or dress codes typically look like? What are some common dress code violations?

Clothing and Fashion

  1. What were the last 3 pieces of clothing you bought, and what did they look like?
  2. What are some of the ethical and environmental problems associated with fast fashion?
  3. What are the most uncomfortable pieces of clothing?
  4. What does your favorite outfit look like? Describe it in detail.
  5. If you had $1,000 and had to spend it all on clothing, what exactly would you buy with that full budget?
  6. What is the process for designing, manufacturing, and selling clothing like? Go step-by-step.
  7. What was/is the worst fashion trend you’ve ever seen? Describe it in detail like your conversation partner has never seen it before.
  8. What is one trend from the past you hope comes back soon? Describe it in detail like your partner has never seen it before.
  9. What makes clothing high quality?
  10. In what ways do your grandparents dress? Compare and contrast how they dress and how you dress in detail.
  11. What are the 3 most harmful fashion trends or judgments of all times? Why?
  12. What are the advantages and disadvantages of buying second-hand clothing? Compare and contrast.
  13. Describe what you’re wearing right now in as much detail as you can, like you’re describing yourself in a fashion magazine.
  14. What do you know about the bootleg or knock-off fashion brand industry? What do you think about it?
  15. Describe what “casual attire”, “formal attire”, and “business attire” in detail, like you were writing a workplace manual.
  16. What would you wear if you went to an extremely elegant party, assuming money isn’t an option? Describe your detail in length, like you’re being interviewed on a red carpet to a person who can’t see you.
  17. What do you think “traditional clothing” from your country is? Give some examples with great detail, like your partner has never visited before.
  18. How should a king and queen dress, according to tradition? What would you wear if you had to meet the King and Queen of England?
  19. Who is the most fashionable person you know, and what does their best outfit look like?
  20. What kind of hair styles have you had in the past? What is your favorite way to wear your hair now?
  21. In what situations are fashion and style important? When are they not important?
  22. What type of clothing should someone wear to a funeral in your culture? Describe it like you’re giving very detailed information to a friend who needs advice and has no idea.
  23. When is wearing fur or leather acceptable or not acceptable? What are the environmental and social costs?
  24. What should you never wear on a first date? Explain it in detail like you’re giving advice to a friend who is from a different culture and really nervous about an upcoming date.
  25. What are the most comfortable clothes to wear in extreme heat? And extreme cold? Compare and contrast in detail.
  26. What should you never wear to someone’s wedding? Explain it in detail like you’re giving advice to a friend who is from a different culture and has no idea.

Places and Transportation

CARS

  1. What do you know about how cars are built and how they run? Describe it in as much detail as possible.
  2. What are the 3 most dangerous things about travel by car?
  3. What are the most expensive things about having a car? Is having a car worth it?
  4. What are all of the driving laws, local to you, that might be different from those in other countries?
  5. Who is the worst driver you know? What things do they specifically do that make them a bad driver? (Describe their driving to your exchange partner like you are trying to convince your partner not to get in a car with this person.
  6. What are some reasons you should or shouldn’t honk your horn at another driver?
  7. What should someone do if they are lost in a new city and their GPS/phone stops working?
  8. What are the best and worst parts about travel by car?

PLANES & TRAINS

  1. What are the 3 worst things about air travel?
  2. Where are the 2 best and 2 worst places to sit inside of a plane? Describe them in detail and justify your answers.
  3. What do you think the hardest and easiest things about flying a plane are?
  4. What are the steps off checking onto a plane, from when you arrive at the airport to when the plane takes off with you in it? Describe them in detail like you are assuring a nervous friend who has never flown before.
  5. What are 5 ways airlines try to save money?
  6. A plane ride between two cities would take 45min, but a car ride between those two cities would take 6hrs. Discuss the pros and cons of each option, without revealing which one would be your preference.
  7. What was the largest airport you’ve ever been to? Describe it in detail like you’re writing for a travel magazine.
  8. What was the smallest airport you’ve ever been to? Describe it in detail like you’re writing for a travel magazine.

GENERAL TRAVEL

  1. What are your 3 favorite and 3 least-favorite modes of transportation?
  2. What are the 3 least popular modes of transportation in your country? Explain why you think they should be popularized (even if you don’t really think so).
  3. Would you rather take a 10hr boat ride or 10hr plane ride? Give 5 reasons why.
  4. How do you typically pack for travel?
  5. What kind of travel infrastructure exists in your city? What kind doesn’t your city have, but you wish it did?

Daily Routine

  1. Describe everything you’ve done today in as much detail as you can as if you’re being interrogated by a police officer and the more details you give the more credit your alibi will have.
  2. If someone had the exact opposite routine as you, what would that look like?
  3. If you had 1hr less free time in a day, what are the parts of your day you would change?
  4. What are the 3 worst and 3 best chores you do during the week? Why do you feel that way?
  5. What was your routine like when you were a child? Compare and contrast that routine with your current one.
  6. What are the main differences between men’s routines and women’s routines? Compare and contrast the two.
  7. When you retire, what do you think your routine will look like?
  8. What are the 3 most important things you do for your health every day?
  9. What are the 3 most cosmetic parts of a routine someone could do, that have no affect on their health or wellbeing?
  10. What is one unpopular opinion about daily routines?

B1-B2 Language Exchange Vocab Building Topics

Houses and Homes

  1. What are the most common rooms in every house, and what function do they serve?
  2. What are 3 rooms that only the hyper-rich have in their homes?
  3. What are the most beautiful things in your home or room?
  4. What is a sign that someone has good taste in home design?
  5. Describe what your dream home would look like if money wasn’t an option.
  6. What are the most important things to have in a kithen? What are the least practical things?
  7. Describe the nicest bathroom you’ve ever seen in real-life, in a movie, or online.
  8. What do you think of minimalist homes? What about them is good or bad?
  9. Do you watch home-improvement shows? What are the biggest clichés in them?
  10. Who has the nicest home you know? Describe it in as much detail as you can, like you’re writing for a home improvement magazine.
  11. How have homes changed where you live over the past 100 years?
  12. What are 3 things you think all homes of the future will have?
  13. What are the main differences between homes that have children and homes without children?
  14. When you were a child, what did you want your dream house to look like? What are the biggest difference with what you would want now? What do both those dreams have in common?
  15. What kinds of flooring are popular where you live? Which are your favorite and least favorite types?
  16. What are 3 advantages and 3 disadvantages of living in a house vs an apartment? 
  17. What is the most annoying room to clean? What is the easiest room to clean? Why?
  18. What makes a home beautiful from the outside?
  19. What does the typical home in your neighborhood look like? Be as descriptive as possible, like you’re writing for a real estate magazine.
  20. What region of the world has the prettiest type of architecture for homes? Describe it in detail like you’re writing it for a travel magazine.

Language Exchange Questions about Education

  1. What are the 5 most important reasons to get higher education?
  2. Why might a government fear an educated population?
  3. What are the most enriching fields of education?
  4. Why are business degrees worth more than arts degrees if we enjoy things like film, music, and books more than we enjoy work?
  5. What is your most unpopular opinion about higher education?
  6. What is one institutional change you would make in your country’s educational system in children’s schools?
  7. What is one institutional change you would make in your country’s university system?
  8. What were the 3 most interesting classes you’ve ever taken? Name the most interesting thing you learned in each class.
  9. Do you think you would be a good or bad teacher? What training or characteristics do you have that make you believe that?
  10. What kind of training do university professors have in your country? What do you think about that?
  11. What are the university graduation requirements like in your country? What do you think of that system?
  12. What is the role of technology in education today? What do you think about that?
  13. What are some of the pros and cons of handwriting vs typing notes? Compare and contrast.
  14. What is one class that everyone should take as an adult?
  15. How do you think other languages could be better integrated into schools?
  16. How do you think the scientific method could be better integrated into schools?
  17. How do you think advanced writing skills and critical thinking could be better integrated into schools?
  18. In parts of the US, students of public schools must learn algebra, geometry, and calculus in order to graduate. Defend why that much abstract math is important in general education.
  19. What are 3 benefits and 3 liabilities in quitting your job and returning to university as an adult?
  20. What were the most popular degrees at your university? What were the least popular ones?
  21. In your field, what degrees are standard? What are the terminal degrees?

Discrimination

  1. What are 5 of the most common types of discrimination where you live?
  2. What are 3 wants discrimination manifests itself in the workplace?
  3. Can you name 4 micro-aggressions that reveal racism, sexism, ableism, or homophobia?
  4. What is one stereotype you used to believe, but now you know better about?
  5. Can you name 3 laws that enforce discrimination?
  6. Can you name 3 laws that discourage discrimination?
  7. If you could change one law regarding discrimination, what would you change?
  8. Who are the most discriminated-against people in your society, and what proof do you have?
  9. Who benefits from racism? Who is hurt?
  10. Who benefits from sexism and homophobia? Who is hurt?
  11. Defend why immigration laws are not a form of racism.
  12. Defend why immigration forms are a form of racism.
  13. Where do you think racism comes from? Why is it still a problem?
  14. What are the differences in individual sexism and institutional sexism?
  15. What effects have same-sex marriage have on society?
  16. What are 3 things an individual can do in their daily life to make society more accessible for disabled people?
  17. How do you think different discriminated-against groups can come together to build a more just world?
  18. What country on your continent has the most discriminatory laws? What facts can you cite to justify that opinion?
  19. Do you think the internet will become a human right one day? What will happen if it does? What will happen if it doesn’t?
  20. How is discrimination magnified by the prison system?

The Internet

  1. Do you know how the internet works?
  2. Describe every step of logging onto a computer in detail, starting at turning on the computer.
  3. What are some of the security features of a computer, program, or website?
  4. What are 3 rules that can help keep kids safe on the internet?
  5. What technology is on your desk right now?
  6. When you turn on a new computer, what are some of the settings or preferences you like to change?
  7. What are the most common questions your older relatives (or you) have about computer problems? How would you describe the solutions to them if you were on the phone together?
  8. What are the best and worst computer brands? Why?
  9. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the major cell phone brands?
  10. What are the best and most annoying features of your email server?
  11. What do you understand about data collection and privacy on social media? Explain these policies in as much detail as you can and explain your thoughts about these policies.
  12. What steps do you take to keep yourself and your information safe online?
  13. What do you know about the dark web?
  14. What do you understand about cryptocurrencies?
  15. What do you think the Internet will look like in 5 years? 10 years?
  16. What do you think smartphones will look like in 5 years? 10 years?
  17. What is your strongest memory of your first computer? What did you use it for?
  18. What do you think about technology burnout? What are the symptoms?
  19. What do you know about internet and gaming addiction? What are the most addicting things about the internet and gaming?
  20. What are the tools, apps, hardware, and software that are used in your job? Why do you use those things?
  21. Do you know how to spot fake news, deep fakes, or photoshopped images?
  22. What does media literacy mean in today’s age?
  23. What types of threats exist online to international security? Do any of them worry you?

The Human Body

  1. What are some of the most common illnesses where you live?
  2. What are some simple health problems that we now have cures for that were very dangerous 100 years ago?
  3. What do you think about antibiotic use and abuse?
  4. How do vaccines work? What do you understand about the science behind them?
  5. Who are the important types of healthcare workers?
  6. What is the most important medical advancement of the past year? 10 years?
  7. What is one medical advancement you’re hoping for in the next 10 years?
  8. What are the most reckless daily activities someone can engage in for their health?
  9. What role does food play in health?
  10. What parts of your body benefit the most from exercise?
  11. What are the most common parts of a first aid kick? What do you have in your home or office?
  12. If you have a health emergency in a public place, who can you ask for help?
  13. What safety equipment or first aid do you take with you when you travel? Why?

PERSONAL PRACTICE

(The student speaking should confirm that they want to have this conversation since, while the vocabulary can be very helpful, it’s also very personal. The student should feel empowered to opt-out of any or all questions.)

  1. What is your strongest body part? What is your weakest body part?
  2. What are 3 things you love about your body?
  3. What health issues run in your family? Do you do anything to protect yourself against them?
  4. What are the worst injuries you’ve ever had in your life?
  5. What are some common things you might need to talk to a doctor about when traveling? Explain it to your speaking partner so they can ask you questions about the issue and so you can have a practice conversation.
  6. What are some medications or pre-existing conditions you have that you might have to notify a doctor or hospital worker about while traveling? Explain it to your speaking partner so they can ask you questions about the issue and so you can have a practice conversation.
  7. Have you ever hurt yourself or gotten sick while traveling? What did you do? What did you use to fix yourself up, or what treatment did you seek?
  8. Are there any prescriptions you might need to get filled while abroad? How would you ask for them? (Role play.)

Sleep, Dreams, Nightmares

  1. How often do you remember your dreams? What about your nightmares?
  2. What was your most recent dream? What can you remember about it? Describe it in detail, including what things looked and felt like.
  3. What do films do to indicate something is happening in a dream?
  4. How do books and literature indicate that something is happening in a dream?
  5. What kind of dream scenes in books or films do you think are cliches? What do you like? Where do you draw the line?
  6. Why do you think we dream?
  7. How do we dream?
  8. What was the nicest dream you ever had? How much do you still remember, and why do you still remember it?
  9. What was the worst nightmare you ever had? How much do you still remember, and why do you still remember it?
  10. Did you ever have any reoccurring dreams or nightmares? What were they like? How did they make you feel?
  11. What are the 3 weirdest feelings, sensations, or images you experience when dreaming?
  12. Have you ever dreamed about someone who has died? Do you think that’s a good thing or a bad thing?
  13. Have you ever slept walked? Tell that story in as much detail as possible, like you’re writing a story.
  14. Do you remember any dreams from your childhood? What do you still remember?
  15. What is the difference between a daydream and a dream at night?
  16. Where is the line between a dream and a nightmare? Can you think of any situations where that line gets blurry?
  17. What languages have you dreamt in? Can you give any examples?
  18. How are walking thoughts and dreams at night similar and different? Compare and contrast in at least 5 points.
  19. How is daydreaming healthy? How is daydreaming unhealthy?
  20. Can you control your daydreams, or do you find yourself getting pulled into them against your will? What causes you to daydream?

Manners and Politeness

  1. If you went into a restaurant or cafe where you live, what would you do in order to be perceived as polite by the waiter/waitress or barista.
  2. When you think of a rude customer, what are 5 rude things they might do?
  3. When you go to someone’s house for dinner, how do you act in order to be polite?
  4. How do you feel if you accidentally do something rude or impolite?
  5. When you’re sitting down with someone to eat, what are 5 things you should never do?
  6. Hope do you greet a stranger, and how do you greet a best friend? Compare and contrast with at least 5 differences.
  7. What do you understand about politeness in your target language?
  8. What questions do you have about politeness in your target language?
  9. What culture shocks have you had about politeness when traveling?
  10. Can you think of any words, phrases, or grammar that we use to indicate politeness in your native language and the target language?
  11. What culture do you think is most polite and why? What about least polite?
  12. What are some ways to be polite or impolite when driving?
  13. What are 4 pieces of politeness advice you would give a foreign friend when they are visiting your culture?
  14. What are some of the ways you can show politeness on the internet? How can you subtly show rudeness?
  15. How do older people in your culture show politeness? How is that different than what your generation does?
  16. To what extent does the idea of “good manners” control women in society? Give 3 examples.
  17. What social repercussions can happen if you don’t use good manners?
  18. When can being rude be advantageous, and what does that look like?
  19. Do you think it’s ok to be rude to certain people? What about people who disagree with you politically? What about to racists? What about to religious extremists? To people who are transgender? Where do you draw the line?
  20. How should children act politely? How is this healthy for them and unhealthy for them?

Hair, Makeup, and Lifestyle

  1. What is the role of makeup in society?
  2. What things do you do to make yourself look good on a normal day?
  3. What grooming do you do on a day where you really need to look nice?
  4. Do you use makeup? Why or why?
  5. What makeup do you use and why?
  6. What was the most daring haircut or dye you ever got?
  7. How would you describe your hair if you were an author writing a book?
  8. What does facial hair look in your culture?
  9. Do you have any favorite facial-hair styles in general?
  10. What piercings are seen as acceptable or unacceptable in your culture? Where is the line, and do you know the history of them?
  11. What was the worst trend in makeup historically?
  12. What was the worst trend of personal grooming in history?
  13. What is one thing about hair or makeup you wish would make a comeback?
  14. Who do you get your sense of style from? What do they do that you relate to?
  15. What is the worst hair, makeup, or grooming trends at the moment?
  16. How do you think hair trends or grooming standards discriminate against certain people or harm people?
  17. Do you think makeup is a positive or negative thing for society?
  18. In what circumstances can changing your hair, makeup, or grooming habits be something radical?
  19. What are the most useless cosmetic pressures on people in your culture?
  20. In covid quarantine, how did your grooming habits change? What do you think about that?

Language Exchange Topics about Gardening

  1. What do most gardens, lawns, or landscaping look like where you live?
  2. What do some of the most beautiful gardens near you look like?
  3. What makes a garden good for the environment?
  4. What makes a garden bad for the environment?
  5. Do you do any gardening? If so, what does it look like? If not, why exactly?
  6. What do you think the future of gardening looks like?
  7. What kinds of foods or herbs can people in your neighborhood cultivate? What kinds of restrictions, legal or practical, are there?
  8. In what kind of ways can you nourish plants? Is anything encouraged, discouraged, or illegal where you live?
  9. What do you think the role of landscaping is in urban life?
  10. What role do you think wild plants should play in urban or suburban landscaping?
  11. What is the weirdest aesthetic gardening or landscaping trend you’re aware of, now or in history?
  12. What part of the world has the most beautiful gardens? What do they look like?
  13. What would your dream garden in your house look like?
  14. What are the prettiest plants that someone can put in their garden? (Be as specific as you can.)
  15. What’s an example of something really kitsch or in bad taste for a garden?
  16. What’s the most annoying thing about having a garden?
  17. Why should everyone have a garden, no matter where they live? (Debate this idea with at least 3 argument points, whether or not you agree with it.)
  18. Have you ever had a hydroponic garden? What do you know and think about them?
  19. How important (or not important) is organic gardening if you’re not going to eat the plants? What about if you do eat the plants?
  20. What is a good indicator of a garden’s health?
  21. What do you do to keep pests and animals out of your garden? 
  22. What kind of preditors or illnesses exist for plants in your area?

Money and Banking

  1. What economic system does your country have now? What has it had in the past?
  2. What benefits does a planned economy have? Name 3.
  3. What disadvantages does a planned economy have? Name 3.
  4. What protections do banks or the government offer individuals where you live?
  5. What examples can you give of how banks or lenders hurt individuals?
  6. What does someone need to do in order to buy a house where you live?
  7. Do you invest your money? How and where?
  8. What is the best financial advice you’ve ever gotten?
  9. What good financial decisions do you regularly make? What about bad ones?
  10. What role does the stock market play in your life?
  11. What currency do you have, and what is it’s rough exchange value to the Euro, Mexican Peso, or Australian Dollar? (Use Google if you need, but answer in full sentences to practice that grammar.)
  12. What social security programs exist in your country?
  13. How are banks organized in your country?
  14. What role do loans play in your country’s economy? How common are they?
  15. Between Norway (totally free universities) to the US (most expensive universities in the world), do you know where your country falls? What do you think about that?
  16. What are the riskiest investments someone can make?
  17. What are the most financially sound investments someone can make?
  18. What does someone need to retire?
  19. What is the role of government bonds in society or your life?
  20. How does your government measure a healthy economy? How do you personally measure a healthy economy?
  21. When have inflation and deflation impacted your life?
  22. What do you understand about hedge funds? Explain them to your speaking partner to your best ability.
  23. What do you understand about market futures? Explain them to your speaking partner to your best ability.
  24. What do you understand about trust funds? Explain them to your speaking partner to your best ability.

C1-C2 Language Exchange Topics for Vocabulary

Computers and Technology

  1. What does technology literacy mean in the 21st century? Are you technologically literate?
  2. What is the most important technological skill an adult can have in today’s day? Why? What proof do you have?
  3. What is the most overrated technological skill an adult can put on their resume in today’s day? Why? What proof do you have?
  4. What was the biggest technological advancement in travel/transportation of the past 10 years?
  5. What was the biggest technological advancement in engineering or urban infrastructure of the past 10 years?
  6. What was the biggest technological advancement in your work industry of the past 10 years?
  7. How will you be affected, positively and negatively, by artificial intelligence in the next 20 years?
  8. What do you think the wars will look like in 10 years? What proof do you have?
  9. What do you think medicine will look like in 10 years? What proof do you have?
  10. What types of technology do you think will be invested in to stop climate change? Will it be enough?
  11. What do you think the future of space exploration will be in 10 years? What proof do you have?
  12. Have you ever used a self-driving car? What do you think of them, and what facts can you use to justify that opinion?
  13. Do you use a voice assistant in your home or office? What are the benefits of having one over the privacy concerns? When are they worth it?
  14. Do you use any smart accessories to track your health or fitness? What are the benefits of having one over the privacy concerns? When are they worth it?
  15. What are the 3 most recent examples of automation you’ve seen? Describe what the job was like before and what it’s like now.
  16. Who are the world’s technology leaders? What proof do you have to justify this opinion?
  17. Is Chinese an important language for tech workers to learn? What evidence do you have of that opinion?
  18. What should the limits of artificial intelligence be?
  19. What were the most important computer languages 10 years ago? What are they now? What will they be in 10 years? Why do those languages change so quickly?
  20. What does net neutrality look like where you live? What are the consequences of the laws as they are right now?
  21. What companies have technology monopolies in today’s day? What effect does that have on the world?
  22. What countries have technology monopolies in today’s day? What effect does that have on the world?

Drugs and Addiction

  1. What is the social price of addiction in your country, and how does your country relate to this?
  2. What are some treatments for drug and alcohol addictions where you live? What does the process look like and what does the larger system look like?
  3. What are the differences between a “soft” drug like weed and “hard” drug like heroin or cocaine? What are the similarities?
  4. What are the differences between alcohol and caffeine? What are the similarities? Why is one regulated and one not?
  5. What are some drug-related laws where you live?
  6. How easy is it to buy drugs where you live?
  7. What do you understand about the biology and psychology of addiction?
  8. What is it like to get prescription drugs where you live? What is the difference between prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs?
  9. What are some natural or historic remedies for illness or ailments in your culture? Do you know any, or if they’re still used today?
  10. How can doctor-supervised drugs benefit a person’s life? How can they harm a person?
  11. Do you think it is a good idea to have safe, legal injecting rooms for intravenous drug users, where they can use clean equipment and sterile water?
  12. Do national policies like “The War on Drugs” (which severely criminalize and punish the sales of drugs) harm or help addicts? What about poor communities? What about youth?
  13. What role do drugs play in your country’s prison system?
  14. What groups are harmed the most by large-scale drug use in a country or society?
  15. Who is profiting from large-scale drug trades?
  16. What types of drug education programs exist where you’re from? Are they effective? What proof do you have?
  17. What populations are most susceptible to drug use? What causes this? What proof do you have?
  18. If you could change laws in your country regarding drugs, what would you do? 
  19. What countries have the best and worst policies about drugs? How do you measure best and worst? What proof do you have?
  20. What are all of the negative health effects of drug use, from least-severe to most-severe?
  21. What are all of the negative social effects on an individual of drug use, from least-severe to most-severe?
  22. What role (if any) does the medical system in your country have in addiction?

Mental Health

  1. What are the perceptions of mental health in your society? How are your views different? How are your views similar?
  2. What are some psychology-based treatments for mental illness in your community? When are these used?
  3. What are some chemical treatments for mental illness in your community? When are these used?
  4. Who’s responsibility is mental healthcare in your society?
  5. What are some incorrect stereotypes of depression and anxiety that you’re aware of?
  6. What are the 3 most stigmatized types of mental illness you’re aware of?
  7. What are some of the historically worst treatments for mental illness? What do we understand now about why these were ethnically or scientifically bad?
  8. What laws in your society exist to protect individuals who have mental illness? What laws exist to harm those individuals?
  9. If an individual can’t control their mental illness, is there any biological difference between something like bipolar or schizophrenia and cancer or a physical disability? What proof do you have?
  10. How might telling others about their mental illness help an individual? How might it harm them?
  11. What do you understand about how mental illness is diagnosed? Who is in charge of the diagnosis and how do they rate and report it?
  12. What are the most dangerous types of mental illness to the individual? How do you qualify “dangerous” and what proof do you have of this opinion?
  13. How do you think treatment opinions could or should be improved to help both individuals and your society? What would you need to do in order to put them into practice?
  14. Who decides what is or isn’t a mental illness in your society? In the world?
  15. Are there any types of “mental illness” you think shouldn’t be treated?
  16. How and when are students educated about mental health in schools where you live? Do you think it should be done differently?
  17. What are some of the long-term effects of mental illness on an individual? On a community?
  18. Have you ever taken a psychology class? What was your favorite thing to study?
  19. What role do social workers play in your society?
  20. Are therapists doctors?
  21. What makes a good therapist? What makes a good therapist?
  22. What makes addiction different than other mental illnesses? What makes it similar to other illnesses?
  23. What is the difference between healthy eating, disordered eating, and an eating disorder? Where is the line?

Science and Medicine

  1. What does scientific literacy mean in the 21st Century? Do you believe you are scientifically literate, and if you are what proof do you have?
  2. What is the biggest challenge for medical scientists and researchers right now?
  3. In what ways are a medical doctor and scientific research similar and different? Compare and contrast in at least 5 points.
  4. What kind of training does someone need in order to become a medical doctor in your country? Describe it in as much detail as you can.
  5. What kinds of discrimination exist in your country’s medical system?
  6. Is plastic surgery a type of medicine?
  7. What are your country’s attitudes toward preventative medicine?
  8. What is the most costly health issue in your society that you can think of? When does an individual’s health become a social problem?
  9. Should smokers pay more for healthcare than non-smokers? What about for just respiratory-related problems? Should meat-eaters pay more for cardiac care than vegetarians or vegans?
  10. Do you understand how vaccines work? Explain in as much detail as you can.
  11. In what ways has science failed to advance over your lifetime?
  12. How are the sciences taught where you live? What do you think about this approach?
  13. What are some common medical misdiagnoses you’re aware of in your culture? What are the costs for the individual and society?
  14. What are the biggest health and medical threats that climate change poses to humans?
  15. How do you think infectious disease political policies are changing or have changed since 2020? What hasn’t changed?
  16. What are some unpopular truths about medicine that people don’t want to hear? How do you know that these are the truths?
  17. Should genetic engineering be available for humans on the free market? Why or why not?
  18. What should the role of stem cells be in research for cancers, vaccines, or life-saving treatments? What scientific evidence do you have to justify this opinion?
  19. What forms of birth control are available where you live? What are the most popular and least popular?
  20. Should forced birth control programs like those in Puerto Rico by the US government be punished as eugenics or genocide? What scientific or legal evidence do you have to support your opinion?
  21. What will a post-antibiotic world look like? Who is responsible for antibiotic resistance, and what can still be done?

Crime and Justice

  1. What are the limits of free speech?
  2. Can speech be terrorism? Under what conditions?
  3. What is the causation or correlation between higher rates of incarceration and violence in certain countries?
  4. What is the role of the police in the country you live in? How does that affect the population, and what proof do you have?
  5. Is it better or worse for humanity that so many countries have nuclear warheads vs if only one country had them? By that logic, is it better that only the government/police be armed vs if civilians are also armed?
  6. What constitutes a crime against humanity?
  7. Are European and North American countries violating the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights when they refuse entry to refugees? Why or why not?
  8. What responsibilities do the US or Europe have for the refugees of a country which they invaded? What about for countries which their private businesses use for mining or cheap labor? Where is the line?
  9. How should a prison system look like for maximum rehabilitation? What facts do you have to back this up?
  10. If a citizen of Country A commits a small crime in Country B then flees back to Country A, does Country A have the responsibility to extradite them to Country B for trial? What about for assault? For murder?
  11. If a soldier from Country A is deployed to Country B to fight against Country B’s government but commits a war crime against unarmed citizens Country B, which country should bring that soldier to trial?
  12. If a law is unjust or inhumane, do humans have the moral responsibility to follow it? Who decides if a law is unjust or inhumane? What if a population is divided on whether or not a certain law is unjust or inhumane?
  13. How do you define torture? Where is the line? Who decides?
  14. What are the most unjust laws that you think future humans will be horrified at?
  15. What industries need more regulation? What industries need less regulation?
  16. Is it true that crime is legal for the rich? Give 3 points for or against.
  17. The saying goes: “ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law.” Is that reasonable? If not, how could laws be enforced? If so, how can someone keep up with how quickly laws change?
  18. What is the difference, if any, between China putting Muslims in work camps for not following state-approved religions (the law) and European countries letting African immigrants die in the Meddetaranian for not having immigration paperwork (the law)? Give 5 points comparing and contrasting.
  19. When is the use of force justified in an arrest? What kind of force, and under what kind of circumstances?
  20. What does your country define as a serious or extreme crime? How are those types of crimes dealt with?

The Natural World

  1. What kind of climate(s) does your country have? What about neighboring countries?
  2. What are 5 problems plastic is causing the environment?
  3. How will food production and distribution change with climate change?
  4. What was the first event that you remember that made you personally feel the effects of climate change?
  5. How old is the Earth, and how do we know?
  6. In 2059, the Antarctic Treaty expires and several countries are already laying claim to various parts of the continent. What do you think should be done with it?
  7. What political questions does fresh water and its scarcity (or abundance) raise in your country?
  8. What are some protected species in your country? What is their importance?
  9.  What do you understand about the greenhouse effect? Explain it in as much detail as you can. 
  10. What are all of the threats currently facing the oceans? Name at least 5.
  11. Do individuals have the right to build dams on the property they own? What about if it affects people downstream? What about corporations? Governments?
  12. How important is biodiversity?
  13. Who can buy or own water rights where you live? What do you think of that?
  14. If no country owns the oceans, should harmful fishing practices (overfishing; whale hunting) be illegal? Who should enforce them?
  15. If the whole world benefits from the Amazon and the polar ice caps, is it fair that the countries who have those things in their borders (Brasil, Canada, Russia) destroy them for the benefit of that country’s citizens? (Cattle farming, oil mining, etc)
  16. Can crimes against the environment be crimes against humanity? Under what circumstances? Where do you draw the line?
  17. What are the most important species that must be protected against climate change? (Either plants or animals.) Why?
  18.  What are the 3 most harmful laws (anywhere in the world) for the environment that currently exist?
  19. What are the 3 most important laws (anywhere in the world) for the environment that currently exist?
  20. What are the 3 biggest problems caused by the use of oil?

Faith and Faithlessness

GENERAL

  1. What are the major religions where you live? What books, spaces of worship, and traditions do they use?
  2. What is the relationship between religion and the government where you live?
  3. Who are the most-discriminated religious (or non-religious) groups where you live? What proof do you have?
  4. What is the role of skepticism in religion, if any?
  5. How much evidence is needed by a religion? What are some examples can you think of?
  6. What are some examples of monotheistic and polytheistic beliefs?
  7. In 10 years, will a higher or lower percentage of the human race be religious? What proof do you have?
  8. What are some of the most interesting religious practices you’re aware of?
  9. Are governments who rule with religion more powerful or less powerful than secular ones? What proof do you have?
  10. Where is the line between a devoit religious person and a religious extremist? Give some examples.

PERSONAL FAITH

  1. What books or writings do you ready, study, or follow? How are they integrated into your life?
  2. What does your worship space look like?
  3. What are 5 similarities and/or differences between religion and spirituality?
  4. Do you dress, eat, or behave in a certain way because of your religion? Describe these things in detail.
  5. What qualifies as a religious experience?
  6. What are some important rights of passage in your religion? How would you describe them to a stranger?
  7. Are there any sects or groups in your religion you don’t want to be associated with? What of their practices do you want to separate yourself from?
  8. What does religious hypocrisy look like to you?

PERSONAL FAITHLESSNESS

  1. What are 5 ways spirituality and science can or cannot co-exist?
  2. What is your relationship with science?
  3. Where do you think religion comes from historically? Personally? What proof do you have?
  4. Are there any atheists or agnostics you don’t want to be associated with? What about their action makes you feel that way?
  5. Can there be extremists atheists? What do they (or would they) look like?

Safety and Emergencies

  1. What kinds of safety equipment do you use when you work? Why?
  2. What kinds of safety equipment do you use (or have you used) when playing sports? Why?
  3. If you have an accident in your own home, what do you need to do? Who do you talk to, what are the steps for getting help? (Explain it in detail like you’re explaining it to a foreign friend.)
  4. What is the difference between a medical emergency and a medical need? Where is the line? (Give 4-6 concrete examples.)
  5. Who are “first responders”, and what kind of training do they all need?
  6. Who pays for public emergencies? Who should pay?
  7. What are some objects that a person can buy to keep their home safe from accidents?
  8. What does home security look like, in detail, where you live?
  9. What kind of objects can you carry on you to keep you safe? Have you (or anyone you know) ever had any of these?
  10. Does your immediate community do anything as a group to keep itself safe? What do you think about that? Would you change it if you could?
  11. What are the most dangerous driving practices where you live?
  12. What responsibility does the government have over the safety of its citizens in every-day situations? 
  13. What are 3 common examples of victim-blaming you can think of?
  14. Do you think you live in a safe part of the world? What concrete examples do you have of that opinion?
  15. What options do people in your community have to leave an unsafe living situation? (Victims of abuse, children in unsafe houses, etc)
  16. What types of first-aid objects do you have in your house? Why?
  17. If there’s a national disaster where you live, what do you have to do to stay safe?
  18. What are some safety features in cars? Airplanes? Boats?
  19. What are some safety features that must be built in large buildings where you live?
  20. What signs are you aware of that someone might be living in an unsafe living situation? What should you do if you know that person?
  21. Do you know the signs of human trafficking? What are they? (If not, look them up and translate them into your target language.)
  22. What is the responsibility of a bystander if they suspect they see someone in a public place who might need help, but hasn’t said anything? If it’s a medical emergency? If it’s a case of abuse or trafficking?
  23. What are some of the most dangerous jobs that don’t look dangerous at all? Why are they actually dangerous? (If you don’t know any, look them up and translate them into your target language.)

Art and Design

  1. What do you think are the most important elements of good design?
  2. What is your favorite art movement?
  3. What is your least favorite art aesthetic?
  4. What materials do you like to work with when making visual art?
  5. How do you define “user experience”?
  6. What is the difference between fine art and commercial art?
  7. What is the most important thing happening in art and design right now?
  8. Should private individuals have the right to buy words like the Mona Lisa, Starry Night, or The David, if they are rich enough? Why or why not?
  9. What piece of art has had the biggest impression on you in your life? Describe it in detail, and how you felt when you first saw it.
  10. Is design art? What about app design? What about newspaper ads? Where do you draw the line?
  11. If society values music, fashion, and film so highly, why does it discourage people from becoming artists?
  12. Where does the starving artist myth come from?
  13. How does design impact your daily life?
  14. What exciting technology do you think the design industry has to look forward to?

EXERCISES: Look up the following pieces of work on Google. Describe them in detail, and make sure to use the included vocabulary prompts (but be encouraged to talk about more than just what’s listed.)

  1. Starry Night, Van Gogh. Describe it’s lines, colors, contrast.
  2. From Slavery Through Reconstruction, Aaron Douglas. Describe it’s composition, patterns, textures, contrast.
  3. Blessed Agostino Novello Triptych, Simone Martini. Describe it’s perspective, movement, repetition, forms.
  4. Untitled #397, Cindy Sherman. Describe it’s lighting, composition, colors, materials used, feeling.
  5. The Dinner Party, Judy Chicago. Describe the use of line, color, forms, textures, and materials in individual parts of the installation.
  6. The Swing, Fragonard. Describe it’s light, composition, use of positive/negative space.
  7. Acidquiat, Basquiat. Describe it’s movement, textures, colors, balance.
  8. Detroit Industry Murals, Diego Rivera. Describe the use of architecture, composition, forms, shapes.
  9. Breakfast in Fur, Meret Oppenheim. Describe the materials used, composition, viewer experience.
  10. The Calling of Saint Matthew, Caravaggio. Describe it’s movement, light, textures, focal point(s).

EXERCISES: Compare and contrast each of the pairs in as much detail as possible

  1. Madonna and Child, Duccio + Madonna and Child, Bouguereau. (Possible prompt: how art evolves over time.)
  2. Les Demoiselle D’avignon, Picasso + Baule masks artisenary. (Possible prompt: international influences.)
  3. Power to the Posse, Shepard Fairey + Down with Whiteness poster, Rupert García. (Possible prompt: intellectual property and plagiarism.)
  4. Shelfish cover, Kim Kardashian + White and Blue Flower Shapes, Georgia O’Keeffe. (Possible prompt: form, texture, and sexuality.)
  5. Dogu Figurine (Japan) + Venus of Willendorf (Austria). (Possible prompt: the human form.)

Social Justice

  1. What are the similarities and differences between current and past civil rights movements?
  2. What does legal discrimination look like? What about illegal discrimination?
  3. What could today’s young activists learn from history?
  4. What is the role of “silence” in movements for social justice?
  5. What does “by any means necessary” mean to you?
  6. Do you think humans will one day live in a society free of systematic discrimination? What about personal discrimination?
  7. What are the biggest social justice issues in your country right now? What about globally?
  8. What legal actions can someone take in your country if they feel they are being discriminated against professionally?
  9. What is the role of money and the economy in racism? What about in sexism?
  10. How can a social justice movement in one country work with movements in other countries?
  11. What role does monolingualism play in racism?
  12. What are the similarities differences between historic and contemporary colonialism? Make at least 4 points.
  13. What role do banks play in modern colonialism?
  14. At what point does systematic racism become genocide? Where do you draw that line? Give examples and evidence.
  15. Where is the ethical line in “I’m just doing my job”? Who does and who doesn’t have to take responsibility for their employer’s actions? Give concrete historic examples.
  16. When is a boycott effective? When is it not effective? Give at least 4 examples.
  17. What are some forms of migration control that governments use, and why do they use them? (Papers, check-points, borders, etc.)
  18. What are the most important labor laws where you live? When were they made, what was their intent, and what is their relevance in modern times?
  19. Who are the most important civil rights leaders in history, and what exactly did they do? What are some incorrect myths about them?
  20. What is the role of linguistic suppression in genocide? Give several historic or current examples.

Farming and Agriculture

  1. Do farmers have the human right to water? Almond farmers? Corporate slaughterhouses? Where do you draw the line?
  2. What are some of the least sustainable modern agricultural practices? What about them makes them so unsustainable?
  3. What are some of the most sustainable modern agricultural practices? Why?
  4. What are 3 myths and facts about GMOs?
  5. What responsibility do South American agrobusinesses have for the deforestation of the Amazon? What about individual farmers? What about individuals around the world who buy that meat?
  6. What does local agriculture look like where you live, in as much detail as possible?
  7. What are the benefits and dangers of using dams for large-scale irrigation?
  8. How has climate changed already affected farming and agriculture? How will it affect it in the next 10 years?
  9. How can local wildlife like birds, bats, or insects be incorporated into agriculture for sustainable farming?
  10. What will the future of farming technology look like?
  11. What could amazing urban farming look like?
  12. What threats do globalization pose to local agriculture? What are some solutions? Give at least 3 examples.
  13. What were the biggest historic advances in agriculture? What were the benefits and negative consequences?
  14. What does the food supply chain look like where you live, in as much detail as possible?
  15. What is the role of transportation technology in agriculture? Give concrete examples.
  16. If food is one of our most basic needs, why are agricultural workers so underpaid? Give at least 3 concrete facts or examples as evidence.
  17. What is the difference between a weed and a vegetable, in terms of agriculture?
  18. What role has agriculture had in the historic development of certain countries? Pick any country/countries, but give concrete examples.
  19. With the growing desertification of parts of the world, what hope does land reclamation give us? How practical or impractical would those efforts be?
  20. What is the role of fertilizer play in the destruction of local sea life? What alternatives do farmers or the agricultural industry have?

Economics

  1. What are the largest flaws in your country’s current economic model?
  2. What are the causes and potential solutions of contemporary inflation?
  3. What are some safeguards governments have to protect themselves, corporations, small businesses, and workers from the free market? What has that looked like historically?
  4. What social questions do water futures on Wall Street pose? How is this similar or different to petroleum futures?
  5. What are the benefits and disadvantages for an individual in investing in an individual company’s stock vs an index?
  6. What role will crypto-currencies play in the next 5, 10, and 20 years? What evidence do you have?
  7. What are the most-worrisome economic threats to a small business in today’s day? What are some possible solutions?
  8. What are the most-worrisome economic threats to a working-class individual in today’s day? what are some possible solutions?
  9. What do you think the ideal economic model would look like from a labor perspective?
  10. What are the differences between a start-up and a small business?
  11. What are some purely-monetary costs of racial inequality on a social or federal level?
  12. What are the various social roles venture capitalists play, outside of their relationship to an individual start up?
  13. What about economics is currently taught in schools where you live? Do you think that should change? How or why not?
  14. Should a corporation be able to own a prison and use prisoners as workers? Why or why not?
  15. What are the lowest and highest risk investments an individual can make? What about a large corporation?
  16. What economic questions will growing automatization pose businesses, governments, and individual workers?
  17. Do boycott slogans like “vote with your dollars” mean the rich have more votes than the poor? What are the economic and social benefits and drawbacks of a boycott campaign?
  18. If Country A has laws against protecting its’ citizens from sweatshops, why can companies in Country A still set up sweatshops in Country B, then sell goods back to Country A’s citizens?
  19. What is the role of financial credit in modern society?
  20. What are some vestiges of feudalism that still exist today? (Try to think of 3-5.)
  21. What are the benefits and disadvantages of contemporary unions for working people?
  22. Do you think most people in your government understand economic science? What proof do you have for your opinion?
  23. What economic questions does the expiration of the Antarctica Treaty ending in 2048 pose for the global economy? (Name at least 3 potential changes.)
  24. What economic opportunities does climate change create and destroy?
  25. Can the free market solve climate change? What proof do you have?

Mysteries and the Unexplainable

  1. What are the local myths that your state or area has? (Forest creatures, haunted spaces, mysterious events?)
  2. If the universe is so large, where is everyone else?
  3. What would aliens on Jupiter look like, and how would they differ from aliens on Mars?
  4. What evidence have you seen or heard of that ghosts exist? (Even if you don’t believe in them.)
  5. Have you or someone in your family ever experienced something supernatural or spiritual? Can you retell that story?
  6. What is one mysterious disappearance you know about? Can you retell that story?
  7. Do you believe in personal paranormal abilities like ESP, voodoo, or astral projecting?
  8. What are the differences between religions and cults? What about spiritual experiences and paranormal experiences?
  9. Do you know any scary stories you can tell?
  10. What interests would governments have in not telling us about paranormal or extraterrestrial discoveries? Do you think they are?
  11. Can science explain the paranormal, or is science used as a cover to normalize paranoia? (Or is there some other relationship?)
  12. What are the 3 most popular conspiracy theories you know of? What proof do people use to support them?

Geography

  1. What are some of the unique geographical features where you live?
  2. Do you know what your local area looked like at the time of the dinosaurs?
  3. How do scientists understand geological time periods?
  4. What uses do ice core samples serve?
  5. Do geological phenomena like tectonic plates or magnetic pole changes pose any threats to human civilization? What proof do you have?
  6. What are the benefits and drawbacks of a civilization living near a volcano? (Name at least 4 points.)
  7. What are some of the biggest changes the world will see over the next million years because of geological phenomena?
  8. What are some of the more unique areas of the world from a geographical perspective? Why?
  9. If the sun will one day burn out, what hope does human civilization really have?
  10. What geological dangers does fracking pose to a local community?
  11. What would the world look like if the magnetic poles suddenly shifted?
  12. What has the role of geography been in human advancement or technology?
  13. How can humans change the geography of a region or country to protect themselves from climate change? What do you think of these strategies?
  14. What are the largest-scale projects engineering projects you can think of? How did they affect the geography of a certain region or country?
  15. How has the availability of natural resources like water, fertile soil, or minerals changed the destinies of some countries? (Compare and contrast North America and South America or Europe and Central Africa.)
  16. How will water availability shape a country’s future?
  17. What is “peak oil” and what will it look like? (Or is it a myth?)
  18. What will other “peaks” look like, such as for certain metals or minerals? 
  19. Where is the Earth’s garbage going? What are the long-term consequences of that? (Name at least 3.)
  20. What are some of the ethical questions posed by the building of hydroelectric dams?

Leadership and Management

  1. What are some myths about good or bad management?
  2. How does leadership look different in work atmospheres where most or all people work from home?
  3. What are the similarities and differences between leaders and managers?
  4. What is the role of human resources in a company? How important is it?
  5. What are some examples of unnecessary management?
  6. How do you quantify or measure good leadership?
  7. What is the difference between high oversite and micromanagement? Give at least 4 examples.
  8. Do you think it’s true that managers rise to their highest level of incompetency? (That is, they keep getting promoted in a job until they finally get to a position they’re not good at, so they stop getting promoted.)
  9. What are some solutions to racial and gender pay gaps? (Give at least 3.)
  10. For a management position, does it make more sense to promote someone who knows the company (but not about management) or to bring in someone who has studied management (but doesn’t have any work experience)?
  11. What are the most important qualities in a hiring manager? (Not the job candidates.) What are some red-flags job candidates should look for?
  12. What are some protections employees have against abusive management? Should they have less or more?
  13. What are some protections companies have against destructive employees? Should they have less or more?
  14. What makes a good company atmosphere where you work?
  15. What are the most and least productive interview questions to ask, from an employer’s point of view?
  16. How do styles of management differ in various cultures?
  17. How do styles of management differ in various industries?
  18. How would you describe your management style? How does that differ from your actual priorities or personality?
  19. How many employees have to complain about a manager for a company to actually listen? How does this differ in theory versus real life?
  20. Can companies screen managers against racism or other types of discrimination? What potential road blocks might they have?

Machines and Engineering

  1. What will the future of prosthetics look like?
  2. What ethical questions does cyber engendering pose?
  3. Why are people afraid of AI? How are these fears justified and unjustified? (Give at least 3 examples.)
  4. Will weather machines exist one day? Why or why not? (Or do they already?)
  5. What will the future of transportation look like in the next 5, 10, and 15 years?
  6. Who should be regulating the economic questions around AI? Give at least 3 pieces of evidence to support your answer.
  7. How do companies hide planned obsolescence in consumer technology?
  8. What technological alternatives exist for rocket ships, as far as space fight go? What are the pros and cons?
  9. What are the future hopes for nanomaterials and technology?
  10. What ethical responsibilities do engineers have for how their technology is used by private companies or governments?
  11. If a parliament or congress have no engineers among their members, how should they govern technology that they can’t themselves understand? (Or what are some alternatives?)
  12. If tomorrow you met a member of a much-more technologically advanced species, what is the first question you would ask?
  13. Is it true that advanced-enough technology is indistinguishable from magic?
  14. What is the role of philosophy in engineering?
  15. What will the computer languages of the future look like? What will coding jobs look like?
  16. What will the limits of human technology be? Give at least 3 pieces of evidence.
  17. What kinds of technology should be prohibited from ever being created?
  18. What are some of the ways in which current humans hope that future technology will fix future generations’ problems? Is this realistic?
  19. What are the pros and cons of mining asteroids? What do you think the future of such mining expeditions will be?
  20. What does the future of energy production and consumption realistically look like?

Migration and International Law

  1. What is your understanding of the history of borders? What are some of the international laws that have fixed borders in their places?
  2. What are the most common causes of human migration in today’s day?
  3. What are the rights of refugees? How protected are those rights?
  4. What roles have technologies played in recent migration waves?
  5. What responsibilities to governments have for refugees living in their borders? What if the refugees are native-born citizens? What if the refugees are coming from somewhere else?
  6. What are the social benefits and drawbacks between integrating immigrants into the new country’s culture vs adding new cultures to the new country? Give evidence to support your claims.
  7. What responsibilities (if any) do the world governments have for genocides? How does this vary in theory and in practice?
  8. How do immigrants contribute to the new society they live in?
  9. What are the cultural and linguistic benefits and drawbacks to intermarrying between two groups?
  10. What do you think migration patterns will look like in 20 years? Why?
  11. Why might an immigrant community choose not to integrate or incorporate itself into the dominant culture?
  12. What are the 5 hardest personal challenges an immigrant faces in a new community?
  13. What do you think a settler/colonizer is? What are some examples of this you’ve seen in human history? What economic or social role do they play in a country?
  14. What does gentrification look like where you live? How are waves of gentrification different and similar to other types of waves of migration?
  15. What are the most and least fair international migration laws? Why?
  16. What are the differences between expats and immigrants? Name at least 6.
  17. What are some possible reasons for humans to migrate from Earth in the future? What do you think about that?
  18. What are the laws your country has regarding migration? What do you think of them?
  19. How can urban planning help new refugee populations?
  20. How can school systems help new refugee populations?

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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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