If you’re like me, you get super excited about writing essays. Have you ever shared that geeky little secret with your students?
You should see their jaws drop! Oh, and the groans of dread. Those are the best. See, I love to argue and debate and so do most teenagers. By the end of my lesson on writing essays, some of the students are on the verge of becoming passionate about their topics.
Yes, I love to write essays. I can help you love to write and teach them, too. In this post, I’m going to share 9 of my favourite essay topics that students (English high school students or English as a Second Language (ESL) students) will love. I’ve taught them in private lessons and in ESL classrooms. Really, it’s about motivating your students by finding topics they are passionate about.
Some students in my first year university English class last year in Barcelona had no idea how to structure an English essay at the beginning of the semester. A few months later, they came out as essay writing stars who knew how to debate a wide range of topics.
First of all, before I dive into the topics, you have access to my printables library, right? There’s a worksheet with all 9 topics you can print off for your class inside! Next week, I’ll be posting a more detailed tutorial on teaching essay writing, so be sure to grab access to my printables if you don’t have it yet!
So, to make it easy, I’ve split the topics into 3 categories. I’m sure you can brainstorm more that fit under each category, but for now, there are 3 of each.
In my experience, students love to give advice to others. Essay writing is one of the best ways for them to express themselves. Once you have your students convinced that an essay is really just an awesome way to express their ideas, they’ll be hooked. Here are 3 essay topics where students can give advice:
- Good habits help us become more physically, emotionally and financially healthy. Write an essay convincing one of your friends to adopt three habits you believe are vital for a healthy life. Remember to use examples to support your claims!
- Often, we have to read books in school as part of “required reading” in a syllabus or lesson plan. However, is there a book that you have read (inside or outside of school) that you believe should be “required reading” for everyone? You may choose a film if that is more appropriate, but be sure to include specific reasons and examples to support them
- Different cultures have different eating habits. Compare and contrast your eating habits (types of food, healthiness of food, times you eat) with another culture. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages. Which habits do you think are the healthiest? Be sure to use support to back up your reasoning!
It’s great to get your students to understand different viewpoints on social issues. Here are a few topics to help:
- Technology is rapidly developing and robots are becoming increasingly useful (e.g. in medical applications). What applications of robots do you believe are ethical? What will the future of robots be? How much of our lives should be “automated”?
- Over the past couple years, many refugees have fled their countries to take shelter in safer, European nations. Some refer to this as the refugee crisis. Which governments should be responsible for caring for these people? Is this a regional or global issue?
- Social media is becoming more and more a part of our daily lives. Is social media more helpful or more of an intrusion in our lives? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using social media daily? You may use personal or anecdotal experience.
Who doesn’t like to discuss authority in our society? Teens and adults alike will have fun with these topics. It’s especially interesting in an ESL class if your students come from different backgrounds or cultures.
- Should students have to wear uniforms to school? In some countries such as England, this is obligatory. Discuss the benefits and disadvantages of wearing a uniform to school. How does it affect students’ identity? Which system do you believe is more appropriate and why?
- Should university education be free? Discuss the pros and cons of a free system. Use specific examples from educational systems around the world.
- Some parents give their children pocket money (a weekly allowance) to encourage financial responsibility. Others believe children should earn money by completing household chores. Still others believe parents should be in control of the family money. Which is the best approach? Why?
Want the essay topics formatted in a ready-to-print worksheet? Download it from my free printables library. Of course, there are a bunch of other resources in there, too. It’ll always be free and updated monthly!
Need even more essay writing ideas? My favourite writing prompts book is 501 Writing Prompts. The essay topics are split by category (persuasive, descriptive, expository and narrative), which makes it the perfect book to use for your class or tutoring session. You can grab your copy from Amazon here.
If you’re in the UK or Europe, please click here instead.
I hope these essay writing topics are helpful! Which one do you plan to use in your class? Have more essay writing tips? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
P.S. For the photography buffs out there, I took the photo for the main image in today’s post in 2014. I was walking along the Thames River in London and snapped a photo of the Big Ben.
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