List of Controversial Questions for ESL Conversations

Published on January 14, 2023 | Updated on April 15, 2024

In this post, we will be providing a compilation of controversial questions that can be used to spark interesting and engaging conversations in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes.

These questions are designed to challenge students’ perspectives and encourage critical thinking.

These controversial questions can also help to improve students’ fluency and confidence in speaking English. However, it is important to remember that these questions can be sensitive in nature and should be used with discretion and respect for all participants.

I hope you find this list useful and that it adds some excitement and depth to your ESL conversations.

Considerations When Using Controversial Questions

It’s essential to handle controversial question with care, considering the language proficiency, cultural backgrounds, and sensitivity of your students.

Here are some considerations when using controversial questions in an ESL classroom:

  • Level of English Proficiency: Ensure that the language level of the students is appropriate for discussing these topics. Complex vocabulary and nuanced arguments might be challenging for beginner ESL students.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: Be aware that what is considered controversial or acceptable can vary significantly across cultures. Some topics may be highly sensitive in certain cultures, so it’s essential to approach them with cultural sensitivity.
  • Create a Safe and Respectful Environment: Establish ground rules for respectful discussion and debate. Emphasize the importance of listening to others’ viewpoints without judgment or personal attacks.
  • Provide Context: Before diving into a controversial topic, provide background information and context to help students understand the issue better. This can include statistics, historical context, or different perspectives on the matter.
  • Encourage Critical Thinking: Encourage students to think critically and analyze the pros and cons of each argument. Encourage them to support their opinions with evidence.
  • Balanced Topics: Ensure a balance of controversial topics to avoid any perception of bias or one-sided discussion. Cover a wide range of issues that can spark diverse opinions.
  • Keep Emotions in Check: Remind students that emotions can run high when discussing controversial topics. Encourage them to express their emotions in a constructive way and not let them derail the discussion.
  • Sensitivity to Individual Experiences: Be aware that some students may have personal experiences related to the topic that could make discussions emotionally charged. Encourage empathy and understanding in such cases.

List of Controversial Questions

These are some controversial questions

  • Should euthanasia be legal?
  • Is climate change caused by human activity?
  • Should the death penalty still be used?

  • Should abortion be legal?
  • Is the current economic system fair to all citizens?
  • Is it ethical to conduct animal testing for scientific and medical research?

  • Should vaccines be mandatory?
  • Should there be limits on free speech?
  • Should religion play a role in government?

  • Should the government provide free healthcare?
  • Should there be stricter gun control laws?
  • Should same-sex marriage be legal?

  • Should the US have open borders?
  • Should there be a minimum wage?
  • Should there be a maximum wage?

  • Should marijuana be legalized for medicinal and recreational use?
  • Should governments limit the size of families through policies such as the one-child policy?

  • Is nationalism a positive or negative force in society?
  • Is the current education system adequate for preparing students for the future?

  • Is the government’s surveillance of citizens necessary for national security?
  • Should performance-enhancing drugs in sports be allowed in sports?
  • Is the current healthcare system accessible and affordable for all citizens?

  • Should schools have the right to teach creationism alongside evolution?
  • Is it ethical for companies to collect and use personal data for commercial purposes?

  • Should adult sites be banned?
  • Should adult sites require registration?

Manuel Campos

Manuel Campos

I am Jose Manuel, English professor and creator of EnglishPost.org, a blog whose mission is to share lessons for those who want to learn and improve their English