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Happy New Year! -10 Great Discussion Questions to Start 2017



Happy New Year busy teachers! I hope you all had a nice break. I think most places around the world have a short break in teaching around the end of December and beginning of January. Personally, I have enjoyed sleeping late and recovering from 2016! I always feel it’s not so easy to get back in the swing of things after a mini break, so today I have been preparing some conversation starters for the first classes back after the break, and I thought I’d share them with you.


I always like to start the first classes back with a period of reflection and to encourage my classes to look forward. I usually ask my learners to think back about what happened in the previous year and to share some happy moments from their break too. I also try to get my learners to look forward and set goals for the coming year. In Japan, New Year is a time for families to get together, so usually they enjoy reflecting on what they have done.


I therefore thought I’d try to help other busy teachers by sharing a few conversation starters that I intend to use. Feel free to use any of these. I usually do this as a warm-up activity and do it as a speed chat. A speed chat is an activity where students pair up and talk about topics for a limited number of time before rotating to a new partner to do the same. If you are interested in learning more about this activity, please check out my post for the British Council Magazine here.


Anyway, here are 10 useful conversation starters for the first classes back after the break. I wouldn’t recommend using all 10, but please feel free to take the ones that are the most suitable for your classes. Most of my learners haven’t spoken any English for a while, so I usually like to pick a few of the easier ones and then add a couple that might encourage a more deeper conversation at the end.


  1. Did you see your family this holiday? Who did you see?
  2. Did you have a special meal during the holidays? What did you eat?
  3. Did you speak English over the holidays? Who with?
  4. Did you do anything special on New Year’s day?
  5. Were these holidays ‘typical’ holidays? Did you do anything different? If yes, what did you do?
  6. Have you ever made any of these New Year’s resolutions? Eat more healthily? Do more exercise? Start a new hobby? Learn a new language?
  7. Was last year a good year for you? Why or why not?
  8. What will you do this year to improve your English skills?
  9. What are your goals for this year?
  10. What can you do to achieve these goals?


Have a great year fellow busy teachers! I wish you all the best for 2017!

Neil Millington

Neil Millington

Neil Millington has taught English as a foreign language in Japan for over 12 years. He has taught a wide range of age levels from pre-kindergarten students to adults. He is currently teaching at the tertiary level. He earned his BA at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England and his MA in TESOL at Lancaster University, England. Currently, Neil is working on his PhD in language learning motivation also at Lancaster University. Neil is also the co-founder of, an English reading website with hundreds of free lessons for teachers and learners.
Neil Millington

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