ESL TEFL TESL CELTA EFL Conversation questions and discussion points regarding a Pandemic or epidemic



  • What is a pandemic?
  • How is a pandemic different to an epidemic?
  • What do you know about "swine flu" or "H1N1"?
  • What (if anything) do you think you could personally do to reduce your chance of being infected in a pandemic?
  • What do you think you should do if you get an infection? Should you go to work (or school) or not?
  • How would you react if a colleague came in to work who seemed to be infected?
  • What (if anything) do you think the government should or could do to reduce people's chance of infection?
  • What difference (if any) do you think that closing borders would make?
  • How many food scares/health scares can you think of over the last few years? Which ones turned out to be serious?
  • Are you buying any medicines in case a pandemic strikes? 
  • Do you think it is sensible for the government to stockpile drugs in case of a pandemic?
  • Do you think that wearing a mask makes much difference to your contracting an infection or does it just give psychological support?
  • How much difference do you think that washing your hands would make?
  • A recent pandemic, swine flu, seems to have started in pigs. Do you think not eating pork make you safer?


  • Are there any current pandemics that you are aware of?
  • Do you think you will experience a deadly pandemic or do you think there is a lot of exaggeration?
  • Which of the following do you think is most likely to happen within the next fifteen years?
    • An earthquake in Los Angeles.
    • An asteroid strike.
    • A deadly pandemic, e.g., airborne spread Ebola   
    • A drop in global temperatures due to the sun cooling


  • Did people travel less to Asia because of the bird flu and SARS scares? How long did the scares last?
  • How would you feel about travelling to a country with a significant outbreak?
  • In what ways do you think a pandemic would effect the world's financial systems?
  • Which business do you think would be helped by a pandemic and which business would be damaged?


  • Do you think that vaccinations are useful or dangerous?
  • Can you explain how vaccinations work?
  • Do you usually receive a vaccination for flu in the winter? How is the vaccination given to you?
  • Have you had a swine flu vaccination?If not, do you intend to have one?
  • How much would you be prepared to pay for a vaccination?
  • Often vaccines are developed by governments and not drugs companies. Why do you think this is?
  • Is it moral for companies to make big profits by selling life-saving drugs? Would they develop them if they couldn’t make big profits?
  • What is the difference between an antibody and an antibiotic? Will they both have an effect on the flu virus?

Vaccine rejection

While the only to be sure that you won't get swine flu is to have a vaccination, some people don't like the idea of being vaccinated. All the following statements can be found on the web. Rate them as: (a) I believe this very sensible statement. (b) There could possibly be some truth in this though it seems improbable. (c) This is absurd.

  • Although the WHO has distributed the vaccine to the whole world it has not been properly tested and could kill people.
  • Eating vitamin D and garlic and avoiding sugar will be more effective than the vaccine.
  • Only the weak need vaccines so I'm not having one.
  • If you only eat organic food then you will be safe.
  • Vaccine companies will make money out of the vaccine so I'm not going to take it even though my government has already paid for it.
  • The vaccine is toxic, and it's a plot by the UN who want to reduce the world's population. 


  • Ebola fever /iːˈbəʊlə, ɪˈbəʊlə, əˈbəʊlə/: the disease.
  • Ebola virus: the virus that causes the disease.
  • Ebola river: a river in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that gave the name to the virus and the disease.
  • Zika fever /ˈziːkə/: the diseas.
  • Zika virus: the virus that causes the disease.
  • Zika Forest: a forest in Uganda that gave the name to the virus and the diseas.


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ESL TEFL questions and discussion topic pandemics pandemic epidemic for use when teaching English as a foreign or second language. Discussion topics questions and ideas for teaching Adult ESL English as a foreign language / teaching abroad.Discussion topics questions and ideas for teaching Adult ESL English as a foreign language / teaching abroad, ESL lessons, speaking practice, debate clubs, lesson add-ons, and more.

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