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Conversation Topics (PDFs)

Topics for Getting to Know Each Other

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Building the Relationship

  • Greetings and age
  • Personality and hobbies  
  • Birthday and birthday traditions
  • Do you have a lot of friends or a few that you are very close with?
  • Do you spend time talking with friends or are you a person that prefers to be active with your friends? (face-to-face vs. side-to-side)
  • Residence/Hometown: What is your favorite thing about where you live and why? What is your least favorite thing?
  • Family tree exercise: Draw a Family Tree. Email or use your computer to show pictures of your family members. Discuss in the target language who each of your family members are.
    • What they do for a living
    • Their personality
    • Something interesting about them

Spoken Language and Body Language

  • How do you greet people in your country? What are the cultural norms for people of different genders and of the same gender?
  • Are there signals and cues that people use a lot such as making the peace sign, waving, kissing, hugging, or holding hands?
  • Discuss why this is an important area of culture in your opinions and what effects body language have in different situations.
  • Watch movie clips together that show human interaction. Discuss if the film clips give an accurate portrayal of culture.

Food and Meals

  • What is your favorite food?
  • What do you typically eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and at what times?
  • Historically, mealtime is great way to absorb and observe culture, is it important in your country? Do people eat at restaurants or at home more in your culture?
  • What is your favorite restaurant where you live?
  • Is it culturally appropriate to eat on the street and in what ways does food play a role in cultural celebrations and/or holidays?
  • Cook a meal together or go out to a restaurant that serves food from the culture of your partner. Discuss the names of spices and foods and what you have for typical meals.
  • Watch a cooking show in the target language and then make a meal together based on what you watched and utilize the vocabulary you learned from the show.  

Asking Questions and Giving Answers

  • Discover cultural differences and similarities. Ask questions!
  • Use this opportunity to discuss misconceptions or to further investigate new cultural information by asking the Who, What, Why, When, and Where questions.
  • Bring a computer and watch commercials on YouTube for popular products in the country where the target language is spoken.
    • Discuss the commercial in the target language. Does it differ from commercials in your country? What about the product?
  • Watch two music videos together in both languages by artists that you like.
    • Discuss the meaning of the song and the video itself. How are the videos different? How are they alike?

Friendship and Dating*

*depending on the partnership, this topic may be better discussed between people of the same gender.

  • Are there any “rules” in your culture regarding dating and friendship?
  • Do people have friends of both genders?
  • Do people date casually or are there more conservative cultural norms?
  • If people do date, who pays and who generally asks?
  • Is it necessary to have dates for certain functions like weddings or school dances?
  • Do people double date?
  • If appropriate, talk about gender norms and the level of equality between men and women and if there is or isn’t a gay community. Remember to reserve judgments and try to remain unbiased.

Work and Play

  • Do people take vacations often in your culture; if so, where is a typical place to go? Do people have cabins or summer homes that they spend time at? 
    • Show pictures of your dream vacation or a vacation that you have been on.
    • Discuss why you want to go to that place/have been to that place. Is it culture? weather? Family and friends who live there?
  • What is a typical job in your country? Do students have jobs? How much is a usual amount that people make?
    • Discuss the culture of work in country A as compared to country B, and get each others opinions for work and leisure.
    • Discuss your partner’s dream job and why they interested in them.

Holiday Traditions and Celebrations

  • Discuss your holiday traditions. How do you and your family and friends celebrate big holidays? What about birthdays? Bring pictures if you can.
  • Do you go to festivals? If so, are they music festivals, art, film, historical, religious?
  • What is your favorite memory of a holiday celebration?