Below is a collection of conversation questions that require students to understand and use some common idioms.
Tell us about a time you got ripped off. What happened? Did you try to get your money back? What was the end result?
Do you know anyone who makes a living doing something unusual? What does he or she do? Do you think you’d enjoy making a living doing what this person does?
Do you think it’s harder to make ends meet now than it was 25 years ago? Why or why not?
What brand of smart phone do you think gives you the most bang for your buck? Why?
Tell us about a time you felt like you weren’t getting your money’s worth?
Do people often pay off government officials in your country? Do these officials ever get punished for their actions?
Idioms about Money Practice Exercise
Who is the most down-to-earth person you know? Tell us about him or her.
Have you ever tried to do something that you simply aren’t cut out for? What was it?
Is there anything that you eat, sleep, and breathe?
Do you fit in with the rest of your family or are you the black sheep in the family? Does your family have a black sheep? If so, who is it?
Are you outgoing and sociable or do you tend to keep to yourself? Have you always been this way?
Do you know anyone who has a chip on his/her shoulder? Tell us about this person.
Is your neighborhood more blue collar or white collar? Is it a mix of both?
Idioms for Describing People Practice Exercise
Tell us a rags-to-riches story about someone from your country. Does this person’s story inspire you?
What are some things your company does to stay ahead of the curve? Are you involved at all?
Have you ever felt like you were on top of the world? Tell us about it.
Tell us about something difficult that you had to do that you were somehow able to pull off. How were you able to pull it off?
Tell us about an experience you had that didn’t live up to its expectations. Tell us about an experience you had that did live up to its expectations.
Tell us about a win-win situation at work. How did everyone benefit?
Tell us about something you (or your team, organization, company) knocked out of the park? How did you feel afterwards?
Tell us about a time someone saved the day at work? What would have happened if this person hadn’t saved the day?
Do you know anyone who has come a long way? Where did this person start out? What is he/she doing now?
Idioms about Success Practice Exercise
Tell us about something you only do once in a blue moon? Why don’t you do this activity more often?
Have you ever been in the right place at the right time? Tell us about it. Have you ever been in the wrong place at the wrong time? Tell us about it.
Tell us about something you worked on that was a race against the clock. Were you able to finish in time?
When you were in school, did you usually wait until the last minute to finish your assignments, or did do them ahead of time? Do you normally procrastinate and wait until the last minute or do you try to complete tasks right away?
Do you normally have time to kill or are you typically pressed for time? Explain. Would you rather have too much work or not enough work? Why?
Is there anything difficult you’re doing now that will be worth it in the long run? Tell us about it.
Tell us about someone old fashioned who needs to get with the times? What makes this person old fashioned?
Tell us about something you’re okay with for the time being but that you would eventually like to change.
Idioms about Time Practice Exercise
Feelings and Moods
Tell us about a time you felt like a fish out of water. Why was the situation so uncomfortable or unfamiliar?
Do you normally get butterflies in your stomach when you have to speak in front of a group? Is there any part of your job that really makes you nervous?
Tell us about a time one of your coworkers wasn’t a happy camper? What happened?
Is there anything you’re on the fence about right now? What are the pros and cons of each option?
Has anyone ever told you something that made your day? What was it?
Tell us about a time you had your heart set on something that you ended up not getting. How did you feel?
What do you do to blow off steam after a tough week at work? What are some healthy ways to blow off steam? What are some unhealthy ways to blow off steam?
What really makes your blood boil? Why?
Tell us about a scandal that had people in your country up in arms.
Tell us about a time that people were on edge at work? Why?
Have you ever witnessed someone fly off the handle for no reason? Did he or she apologize after the incident?
Idioms about Feelings and Moods Practice Exercise
Negotiations and Disagreements
Tell us about two people you’ve worked with who didn’t see eye to eye? Did one of them eventually leave the company?
Agree or disagree: Sometimes the only way to get what you want is by playing hardball.
In your country, do people typically get down to business right away or do people often talk about other things first?
Tell us about a time someone hit someone else below the belt during an argument.
Is it hard for you to hold your tongue when you’re angry?
Do you typically second guess yourself after you make important decisions?
Tell us about a time you bent over backwards for someone but it wasn’t enough.
Tell us about a time someone didn’t want to do something but you talked him/her into it. Did you help the person make the correct decision? Tell us about a time you didn’t want to do something but you were talked into it. Do you think you made the right decision?
Tell us about a time someone was going to do something but you talked him/her out of it. Did you help the person make the correct decision? Tell us about a time you were going to do something but you were talked out of it. Do you think you made the right decision?
Tell us about a negotiation in which you clearly had the upper hand? Why did you have the advantage?
Idioms Related to Negotiations and Arguments Practice Exercise
Adversity, Challenges, and Failure
Do you ever feel like you’re spreading yourself too thin? Explain.
Tell us about something you did that opened a can of worms. Do you regret doing it?
Have you had to bite the bullet recently? What did you have to do?
Tell us about a time you were fighting a losing battle? What was the end result?
Tell us about someone at work who was clearly in over his/her head? Why was he/she put in this position? Did anyone help this person?
Who has been with you through thick and thin? What would your life be like without this person?
Has anyone stuck his/her neck out for you recently? What did he or she do?
Do you tend to take things in stride or do you let adversity and criticism affect you? Do people in your industry need to be able to take things in stride? Why or why not.
Tell us about an opportunity that you didn’t let slip through your fingers. What would your life be like if you hadn’t taken advantage of this opportunity?
Tell us about a sink-or-swim situation you were in. Were you able to succeed? Why or why not?
Tell us about a time a friend helped you out of a tight spot. Did you return the favor?
Tell us about a time you set a goal for yourself but came up short. Why do you think you came up short?
Has your government ever had a plan that had disaster written all over it? Did most people think that the plan would work? What was the end result?
Idioms about Adversity, Challenges, and Failure Practice Exercise