Engaging ESL topics

Top ten engaging topics for ESL lessons

As an ESL teacher, you’re always on the hunt for engaging topics for ESL lessons!

As teachers, we always try our best to ensure that the topics chosen range across a broad spectrum yet are interesting enough for the students to actively participate. Suppose you are teaching online or even in physical classes, the students that you have typically come from various ethnicities and nationalities. Bold or controversial topics should be avoided so there is no offense given or potential for misinterpretation.

In this article, we aim to alleviate your worries while choosing the topic. We have compiled the top ten engaging topics for ESL lessons that will make your class fun, interesting, and a session full of experience. It can also help you continue finding online English teaching jobs in the future. 

Holidays (engaging topics for ESL lessons)

ESL holidays

Holidays are an engaging topic for all ESL lessons. Every student, no matter from which nationality or ethnicity they belong, has probably experienced the richness and enjoyment of holidays. You can discuss with them generic questions such as where did you go for the holidays? What places are fun to spend holidays in? Do you think one enjoys holidays with family or alone? Vocabulary lists with pictures or short videos for specific holidays are also helpful. This emphasizes the aesthetic appeal of the lesson to keep engagement.  

The student can engage and share personal experiences and content with you.

It’s always fun to have the student do a “show and tell” with an item they have in their home from one of the holidays they celebrated with their family. 


ESL future

This is a topic every individual, from basic to advanced, can learn from. The things you can discuss here can be about how the students see themselves in the upcoming five or ten years and their goals and aims. Similarly, you can also take this into a broader sense. What do the students think will happen in the future? What will technology be like in the future, and how would people behave? Here the students can use their imagination to create and participate in creative writing or storytelling. It’s also a milestone for learning tenses. You can find many ESL games to incorporate for this topic. The future is a great way to make your students brainstorm while providing an engaging platform of thought for your ESL classes.


ESL family

Family topics are always engaging for ESL lessons. This is another general yet specific topic for ESL lessons where the students can shower some of their ideas and facts. You can ask them about How big your family is. Who is the dearest to you in your family and why? Also, you can ask broader questions about family for more advanced students, like do you think a nuclear family is the ideal type of family? What do you think are the ideal family roles etc.

The students are typically keen to talk about their personal experiences and life to the teachers. It is something that they can speak about with ease. Creating a colorful family tree on the digital screen or on paper is also great fun for the students. 


That is another topic that you can review with most of the students. You can discuss various types of jobs with the student and give opinions on how tough or easy they are. You can ask about what jobs the student’s family members have? What is the ideal job the student would like to have? Vocabulary lists with job titles adorned with pictures are always helpful to get the ball rolling. 

Also, look for more ESL jobs online HERE.

Music (engaging topics for ESL lessons)

Another interesting topic for ESL activity for the students is some music. You can simply play music with its lyrics for the students and then discuss the difficult words, rhyming words, what the writer is trying to say through it, etc. Also, you can interpret the difficult words with the student and ask them to make a few creative lyrics like it too. It can work out as an indulging listening activity with a topic known to almost everyone.


Another engaging topic that can attract ESL students is food. You can tell your student to write a complaint or a compliment against a restaurant. Also, it can be a good speaking activity where you can ask the student about their favorite restaurant, the type of cuisine they like, the restaurant’s environment, and they can describe its setting, etc. This is also a good topic to open chambers of some delicious vocabulary.

A great game to play is server and guest. The student can create a fake menu for a fake restaurant. The student will be the server and the teacher can be the guest. The teacher can order from the students created menu like a real-life scenario.


Another creative topic that allows ESL students to use their imagination is superpowers. It is an interesting topic on which the student can speak about their favorite superpower. You can ask about which superpower they would like to have and why. Would they use it for good or bad? In this way, the students can learn a lot of vocabulary, they can activate their imagination, and can easy be turned into a fun game by creating their own superhero. 

You can check out an easy list of superpowers HERE. This can help with reading, speaking, and vocab. 


The next on the list is sports. You can let the students share about their favorite and least favorite sports as an engaging topic for ESL classes. Popular sports from the student’s country can be discussed. You can ask the student to explain how a game is played. Not everybody is into sports but it’s a topic everybody knows a little bit about. 

More ESL games from YouTube HERE.


ESL money

The discussion of money is an engaging topic for ESL students of all ages. It allows the teacher to see a small glimpse into the philosophies the students hold in their minds. You can ask, “Do you think money is the key to success? What would you do if you become very rich? Can money be a menace?”  Such thought-provoking questions can be a great start to making your ESL lessons engaging. A topic on which each student can express their views. You can ask them to create a speech or article or simply do a speaking activity on this evergreen topic. For younger students, you can create fake money. You can make a list of food or shopping vocabulary and put a price tag on all the vocabulary terms then allow them to purchase it if they can speak the word correctly. More games for ESL money classes HERE

Would you rather? (engaging topics for ESL lessons)

ESL would you rather

Last but not least, this topic is more like a game rather than a topic. All you have to do is give two choices to the student, between which he has to choose one. For example, would you rather have sweet or spicy food? And Why? It can be a writing or speaking activity. In this way, not only would there be fun but a lot of learning for the student. 

Would you rather game HERE.

So, these were some engaging topics for ESL lessons where you can give students the freedom to express their opinions in detail. Try incorporating ESL games and ESL activities to make class a fun place to learn!

Top Ten Engaging Topics for ESL Lessons

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