One of the most beneficial things to do in your target language is to write a text and then have it corrected – for example for free on Lang-8. This way you will
- know what vocabulary you’re missing
- test out new grammar that you’re not sure about
- learn a lot from the corrections
- be prepared for a conversation on the same topic, where you won’t have as much time to think
I personally love this exercise, but I’m not a creative person and I never know what to write about…
Just now I signed up for the Super Challenge and one of the requirements is to write 100 texts in the target language (Chinese in my case). So to stop the “Don’t know what to write about” excuse dead in its tracks, I have compiled a HUGE list of possible topics. By the way, these topics also work if you’re looking for something to talk about with your language partner..
I have roughly sorted them into topics. Even so the list can be quite daunting. I suggest deciding on a general topic beforehand, then thinking of a random number n and scrolling down the list until you reach the n-th item in that category, then taking that as a topic.
Ideas for laws
Health & Environment
If you had to choose a few words to describe yourself, what words would you choose and why?
Do you like the town you’re living in? What makes it a good place to live?
Where have you always wanted to go and what would your dream holiday there be like?
Under which circumstances would you move abroad (to spend most of your life there) and to where?
What would you do with a million dollars? Would you stop working?
Do you prefer cooking or going to a restaurant? What kind of food do you like?
Describe a friend. (Can be used for more than one text)
What are your goals?
What are the 6 things you can’t live without, and why?
What are the 6 things you can live without, and why?
Which of the four seasons of the year appeals to you the most? Why?
What is your biggest passion?
What’s on your bucket list?
If you were given one month to work on one project and one project only, what would it be?
If your doctor told you that you had only a few months to live, how would you alter your way of life?
What’s your biggest secret?
What’s your biggest fear?
How does your public image differ from your private self?
If you could have a conversation with a famous person (living or dead), whom would you choose?
If you were to be deprived of one of your five senses (sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing) which one would you most hate to give up?
Do you function best in the morning, afternoon, or evening? Explain.
Why did you choose the career you chose / are preparing for?
What do you hope to accomplish within the next ten years?
If you could make one scientific discovery in your lifetime, what would it be? Why?
If you could hold any job for one year, what would you choose?
What is your most prized possession? Why? (Do NOT write about a person.)
What is the best advice you ever got?
Do you think of yourself as a “goal-oriented” person?
Which of your talents do you value most? Why?
Do you read the newspaper every day? Why or why not?
If you could participate in only one extracurricular activity, which would you choose?
What is your favorite holiday? Why?
If you had the power to do one thing to improve the world, what would you do?
If you could buy one very expensive thing, what would it be?
What situations are most stressful for you?
What do you do to cope with stress?
What is your favorite source of entertainment? Explain why.
Discuss the influence that a relative (other than a parent) has had in your life.
Given the choice, would you rather live in the mountains or near the beach?
If you were to set up a personal museum of the most significant objects you own, what would you include and why?
Do you like surprises?
What kind of person really annoys you? (Can be used more than once)
What have you been promising to throw out for years but just cannot seem to part with?
People dress to project an image or to follow trends or to be comfortable. Discuss why you dress the way you do.
Name some of your family’s traditions (perhaps concerning holidays, birthdays, vacations, or other activities) and discuss why they are important to you.
How are you different from your parents (or other adults significant in your upbringing)?
Do you like being in the presence of small children? Discuss why or why not.
How is your generation different from your parents’ generation? Discuss.
If your need for sleep were reduced to only one or two hours, what would you do with the added time while others are sleeping?
What kinds of people do you enjoy most?
What things about yourself would you most like to improve?
If you suddenly found that your home was on fire and you had time to rescue only a few belongings, what would you save?
If you could take one entire year off from your responsibilities of school or work, how
would you spend that year?
If you could begin next year with one new ability, what would it be?
If you could be a fictional character who could walk off the page of a book, what character would you become and what would you do? Explain.
When you are unhappy, what do you do that usually makes you feel better?
What animal do you like (or dislike) the most?
Would you rather spend a weekend with your friends or your family?
If you could wake up tomorrow as someone else, who would it be and why?
How are you different from your best friend?
Are you motivated more by external rewards (such as money or grades) or internal rewards (such as self-esteem or integrity)?
If you had to live life as an animal, which animal would you prefer to be and why?
Describe your day today or yesterday. (Can be used more than once)
What’s something interesting/funny/awesome/embarassing that happened to you or a friend recently? +
What are you most proud of?
Who was your favourite or least favourite teacher at school, and why?
What was your favourite vacation experience so far?
If you could change one thing about your childhood, what would it be?
What was the most important event of your life? Discuss why this event was so important.
Which do you believe has been more influential in your life — good luck (chance) or good decisions?
If you could relive one day in your life, which day would it be?
Discuss a New Year’s resolution that you actually kept (or wish you had).
What influences from the past have helped shape the person you are today?
If you could take back any deed you have done and do it differently, what would it be? Why?
What is the dumbest thing you ever did? Explain why you did it.
Describe a decision you have made that has been particularly significant to you.
During what period of your life have you been the happiest?
What really scared you when you were a child that you now consider humorous?
What is the most frustrating thing that regularly happens to you?
Failure can often teach more than success can. Has failure ever taught you a valuable lesson?
If you wrote a book about your life, would it be a comedy, a tragedy, or a combination of the two?
Have your attitudes changed much in the last five years?
What languages are you currently learning and why?
How do you go about learning languages? What tips can you give newbies? (Can be used more than once)
Would you consider eventually learning an artificial language, such as Esperanto or Elvish?
Are you drawn to dead languages like Latin, Ancient Greek or Ancient Egyptian?
Would you learn an endangered language in an effort to save it?
Could high schools teach foreign languages well?
Should immigrants be encouraged to speak the national language at home as much as possible?
Should every student be required to learn a second language?
Is high school a good place to find out who you really are?
Is too much emphasis placed on grades in our educational system?
What advice would you give to an entering college freshman?
Which courses that you did not take in high school do you now wish you had taken?
What are the characteristics of a good college student?
Should high school students have complete freedom to choose their own courses?
How should public high schools deal with students considered to be constant troublemakers?
“Self-discipline is the most important ingredient for success.” Attack or defend.
What steps should be taken to improve the quality of education in our public schools?
Should college students be required to take physical education courses? Why or why not?
Is it better to know a little about many subjects than to know a lot about one subject?
What are some possible reasons for the decline in the reading skills of high school students?
What could be done to make students more interested in learning about science?
Suicide among high school and college students is on the rise in this country. Discuss possible reasons why young people take their own lives.
Discuss some of the pressures on high school students.
Explain what motivates students to strive for good grades in school.
What pointers could you give to help students with poor study habits?
Is it an advantage or a disadvantage to have a job while attending school?
What types of students do you like to have in your classes?
Should high school students be required to wear uniforms?
Should schools establish dress codes?
Should the school year be extended to include longer hours and more days required to obtain a high school diploma?
Is there anything that teachers can learn from students?
With the widespread availability of calculators, is it necessary for students to learn arithmetic?
Describe a book you read. (Can use this topic more than once)
What kind of book / movie / music do you like? (Can use this topic more than once)
Describe a movie or TV show you watched. (Can use this topic more than once)
Tell a short story, or re-tell one you know. (Can use this topic more than once)
In your opinion, what invention or discovery has brought about the most far-reaching and lasting changes in our civilization?
If you had the power to change any event in history (outcome of an election, who won a war, etc.), which would you choose to change, and why?
If you could live in some other historical period, which would you choose, and why?
What do you consider the most important event of the past decade?
Presidential greatness is often debated by professional historians. Which historic head of state would you identify as the greatest? Justify your selection.
Has the space program benefited the average American?
What was the most useless invention of the twentieth century?
How do you feel about electronic readers, such as the Kindle, as opposed to paper books?
If you wrote a book, would you publish it electronically and why?
“In spite of advances in scientific knowledge, people are still superstitious.” Agree or disagree.
Are people too dependent on the automobile?
Do people seem unable to relax in their leisure time?
Given all the evidence that cigarette smoking is harmful, why do people continue to smoke cigarettes?
What would you place in a time-capsule to allow people opening the capsule 1,000 years from now to understand life in the 1990’s?
It has been said that computers are taking over our lives. Do you agree or disagree?
Is the person without knowledge of computers handicapped?
Would you choose to be an organ donor?
Have computers made our lives easier or more complicated? Explain.
Is the Internet getting better or worse?
Do you think humans will encounter an alien lifeform in the next 150 years?
If you could take a one-way trip to colonize a new planet, would you?
Will our grandchildren’s lives be as different from ours as ours are from our grandparents’?
If the average life span were increased to 150 years, what major changes in society would you expect?
If you could have a household robot, for what jobs would you want it programmed?
If you were among the first colonizers of a new planet in the twenty-first century, what would you NOT want your fellow colonists to transport from the planet Earth?
Would you want to survive a nuclear war?
What should be invented, but has not yet been, that would make your life easier? Explain.
What are some major changes you expect to see in your country during the early part of the twenty-first century?
Ideas for laws
What should the legal drinking age be? (also with regard to the age of getting a license)
How should we deal with minors who commit grave crimes, e. g. murder?
What do you think of compulsory military service?
Should it be legal to kill someone at their request, for example when they’re gravely ill and in a lot of pain?
If you could ban anything in the world, what would it be and why?
If you could pass one law, what would it be?
Should the custom of tipping be abolished?
Do you believe that governments should have the right to prevent certain news stories from being published?
Is it okay for Germany to ban the sale of Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf” and to make hate speech a crime?
Is torture or threat of torture ever acceptable?
“Human rights” is a term frequently used but seldom defined. What rights should belong to every human being?
What characterizes a good person, or an evil one?
Name someone you consider to be a modern hero or heroine and explain why.
What characteristics do you regard as important in a person you would choose as a friend?
Which do you think has a greater effect on a person — heredity or environment?
Should the state try to make people have healthier lifestyles?
Discuss the most important characteristics an elected official should have. Is it possible for anger ever to be beneficial?
Knowledge can be gained from books and scientific observation. What are some other important sources of knowledge, and why are they valuable?
Whom would you identify as a truly wise person? What makes him or her seem wise to you?
What is the value of recreation?
Is increased life expectancy a blessing or a curse?
What is the value of foreign travel?
Does a person have to be wealthy and powerful in order to be considered successful?
Should animals be used in medical research?
Should people accept it as their duty to take care of their aging parents?
Is there ever a situation in which a person should hide his or her true feelings? Explain.
What does someone have to do to earn respect? Discuss.
Are there situations in which lying is appropriate? Discuss.
“The best things in life are free.” Discuss why you agree or disagree with this statement.
It has been said that winning is not the most important thing; it’s the only thing.
Explain why you agree or disagree with this view.
How do you measure success?
Explain what it means to be an honourable person.
Is it the responsibility of rich countries to share their food supplies with the hungry people of the world?
How do you feel about nuclear energy?
Do you think the (national or global) economy is heading in a good direction?
Do you make donations to any cause?
Discuss one cause for which you would be willing to risk your life.
If you could donate a thousand dollars to a charity, which one would you choose? Why?
What do you think of the current drug policy?
Could you be friends with someone who was unpatriotic?
Is there a way the system could be more democratic?
What contemporary problem do you find most disturbing?
When was the last time you changed your mind about something after reading a book or article or listening to a debate?
What can be done to improve the treatment of the elderly?
What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of growing up in a large family as opposed to a small family?
Each year, many teenagers run away from home. What do you think are the chief causes?
What are the best ways to meet new friends?
Explain the chief reasons why students drop out of high school.
Explain why you would or would not want to live in a large city.
Should children be disciplined by physical punishment?
What steps need to be taken in order to reduce crime?
Do you believe that violence in television programs leads to violence in our society?
How great a role do you think “knowing the right people” plays in getting ahead in school or at work?
What are the essential characteristics of a good parent?
Should court proceedings be televised? Explain why or why not.
Discuss some of the status symbols of today’s society.
Should prison inmates be allowed to take college courses? Explain why or why not. ?
Choose a profession whose members make a worthwhile contribution to society and discuss the benefits that society receives from members of this profession.
What, in your opinion, are some of the reasons so many people have pets?
Apart from chronological age, what are some major differences between an adolescent and an adult?
We now have more people over 65 than at any other time. What are the major effects of this increased proportion of older people?
What do you think are the major effects of divorce upon children?
What are the most important skills and/or values that children learn from their parents?
Most people consider themselves part of a particular generation. Discuss what you consider the most important values of your generation.
“We waste a great natural resource: the elderly.” Agree or disagree.
Beauty contests, despite some criticism, are still very popular. In your opinion, what are the chief reasons for their popularity?
What do you consider to be your duties as a citizen?
Why are many people afraid of growing old?
Discuss some of the advantages and/or disadvantages of having three or more generations of a family living together under the same roof.
Publishers report that horoscope columns are among the most widely read features in newspapers. Do you check your astrological forecast from time to time? Why or why not?
What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of being single?
Should parents encourage their teenage children to work even if the family does not need the money?
Why do so many people like to have collections of something (antiques, coins, stamps, dolls)?
Do people place too much emphasis on physical appearance?
Do you think that most people would rather conform (be like everyone else in a group) than stand out as individuals?
With news readily available from the electronic media, why are newspapers still
Which advertisements do you find most appealing or offensive? Why?
Has television brought members of the family together?
Watching the “soaps” has become a common pastime. Why are these television shows so popular?
Why do people still go to movie theaters despite the availability of television movies and video rentals?
Discuss the influence that advertising has had on your life or the lives of your friends.
In general, do movies and/or television programs provide a realistic picture of life in
Why do you believe radio has continued to be popular in the age of television?
If you were forced to live without television, how would you spend the time you normally spend watching TV?
How do you account for the popularity of horror films?
What are the chief reasons for our youth’s interest in music videos?
Why are television talk shows so popular?
Why do many people prefer watching television news shows to reading newspapers?
Some people have begun to regulate the hours of television that their children may watch each week by giving each child a “television allowance” time. Do you believe that this is a good idea?
Health & Environment
Do you do anything to be eco-friendly?
Is concern for a clean environment a dead issue today?
Are people in the U.S. overly concerned about being thin?
Why do Americans eat so much junk food?
Americans are fast becoming the most overweight people in the world. To what do you attribute this trend?
Explain why you do or do not smoke.
How much do you think people influence their own health through their attitudes and lifestyles?
Why do people do stuff that is bad for them?
Is there any job that you would absolutely refuse to take?
Talk a bit about your experience interviewing for a job.
If you were an employer, under what circumstances would you fire an employee?
Is it beneficial for a high school graduate to work full-time for a year before entering college?
What are the essential characteristics of an effective leader?
Would you like to be a candidate for public office? Why or why not?
What is the difference between “good” and “bad” stress?
Americans generally condemn daydreaming as a waste of time. Do you agree with this view, or do you see some benefits of daydreaming?
Name your favorite game or sport and explain why you find it enjoyable.
Do you think that sports help develop good character?
Are spectator sports overemphasized in this country today?
Should the government subsidize the national Olympic teams? Why or why not?
“Professional athletes and entertainers are among the highest paid people in this country — and justifiably so.” Agree or disagree.
What do sports reveal about American culture? Discuss.
Can the design of our house have an effect on our happiness?
Is marriage a good idea?
In your view, what would most impress (favorably or unfavorably) a foreign student spending his or her first weekend in a home in your country?
What do you think it means to be well-informed? Are you?
What is one of the worst things that people do to one another?
What do you think is lost in the process of growing up?
In what situations can laughter be especially helpful?
If you write about these on Lang-8, add me as a friend and I’ll gladly read over them and suggest corrections.