skeleton questions

There are a handful of websites where you can get conversation questions arranged by topic. These seem to be the most popular ones, prompted by an “esl conversation questions” search query on Google.

Conversation questions for the ESL/EFL Classroom

ESL Conversation questions

ESL Discussions


English Current

ESL Gold

Basically these sites (or sections within the sites) provide a menu of arranged categories by topic and lists of questions for each of the topics. You will have to sieve through the questions, as some might not be very engaging or conducive to discussion. Conversation questions for the ESL/EFL classroom features close to 200 questions for the topic of money and shopping but I wonder whether the students will have much to say about this:

– Do banks pay a higher percent of interest here or in your country?

– Do you have a credit card? If so, do you have more than one?

– How much does it cost to get a haircut in your country? Here?

And, quite frankly, I would personally steer away from the million dollar question:

– If someone gave you a million dollars, what would you do with it?

At any rate, these sites can be useful to pick and choose questions that might work for your students, if you want them to have discussions around those topics.

And here is the tweak. Once you have chosen a handful of questions, instead of reading them out for the students to copy or writing them down on the board or displaying on a screen, simply provide the key words (mostly nouns and verbs) for the students to figure out the full questions. Here are some skeleton questions from the same source. Can you figure out the questions in full? (check at the bottom of the post)

– ever/find/money/if so,/what/do

– something/want/buy/never/will

– most expensive/ever/buy

– different/taxes/country


Allow some time for the students to work individually first and then they can stand up and compare their full questions with their classmates. It’s not essential that their questions match exactly the original ones. For instance, for the third skeleton question, they may generate questions such as “What’s the most expensive thing/gift/gadget that you have ever bought/that you may ever buy? Have a look at their questions as the students pair with each other and point at possible question making mistakes. Finally elicit the full questions and write them (or have a student come to the front to do the job) on the board.

– Have you ever found any money? If so, what did you do?

– What is something you want to buy but you never will?

– What is the most expensive thing you have ever bought?

– What are some of the different taxes in your country?

– What is the next “big” thing you are going to buy?

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