One of the most common problems learners of English have during language exchanges is not knowing what to talk about, especially for the first meeting. Both you and your partner are probably feeling extra nervous during that first conversation, and it can be hard to think of things to talk about. That is why it is good to prepare a list of general topics to talk about for your first few conversations. If the conversation flows naturally and you don’t need them, that’s great! But you will feel more confident if you know you have some conversation topics to fall back on.
General advice for choosing language exchange topics
Unless you know someone well, you should talk about safe topics, topics that aren’t likely to be too emotional, sensitive, or raise strong feelings. Topics to avoid include: politics, wars, health-care policies, religion, personal finances, people’s appearance, gun control, abortion laws, corruption, democracy (or lack of it), crime, international relations between specific countries or regions, questions about gender identity, terrorism, racial issues, etc. None of these topics are advisable to talk about with people you don’t know.
Tips for keeping a conversation going
Ask follow-up questions.
If you have something to add to the conversation, say it! Don’t just ask questions. It’s natural in conversations for people to take turns asking and answering questions.
Feel free to change the topic if you get stuck. Normal conversations change topics all the time.
List of English language exchange topics
Talking about the weather
How’s the weather there today?
What’s the weather like today?
It’s really hot/cold/rainy/cloudy/snowy/stormy/windy/smoggy here today. What’s the weather like where you are?
Follow-up weather questions
Do you like rain/snow/hot weather/cold weather/windy days?
What is the weather like in the spring/summer/fall/winter where you live?
Do you have a favorite season? What do you like about it?
What have you got planned for this weekend?
Do you have anything special planned for the weekend?
What are you going to do this weekend?
What would be the perfect weekend for you?
Do you have any pets? (Tell me about them…)
Are you more of a dog or cat person?
Entertainment / fun
What do you do for entertainment? (read books, watch cat videos on youtube, watch films and tv series).
Do you watch much TV / Youtube?
Do you have any favorite TV series / films / movies?
What kind of movies/films do you like?
Do you have a favorite character from TV or film? Why do you like him/her?
What’s the most memorable movie you’ve seen recently?
Do you listen to music? What kind of music do you like?
Do you play any games? (WoW, MInecraft, etc.)
Sports, recreation, hobbies
Do you do any sports?
What do you do for exercise?
What sport do you think seems the most difficult or hardest to learn?
Do you like to watch any sports?
What do you like to do in your free time?
Do you sing or play a musical instrument?
Food and drink
What kind of foods do you like?
Are there any foods you’ve never eaten that you would like to try?
Is your area known for any special foods? (What are they…do you like them…etc.)
That should be plenty of questions to get you started. Good luck with your English practice!