From July, 2013

English Tips And Phrases: For Small Talk

Learning English: Small Talk

A lot of our students have commented that ‘making small talk’ is one of the most difficult aspects of speaking English. They are happy giving a presentation that they have practised beforehand, or taking part in a meeting where they are familiar with the vocabulary for their job, but chatting to people can be nerve-racking and a big challenge. A little preparation and confidence is all you need. As a skilled small talker you will come across as a more open and friendly person, compared to someone who doesn’t say much during social situations. Just don’t overdo it because then people will find you annoying and too chatty.

Here are a few helpful tips

  • Choose your topic carefully and avoid controversial subjects such as religion, politics or money.
  • You can start with a general topic that everyone talks about (could be the standard one about the weather!) and ask questions until you find a common interest.
  • Learn some good ‘ice breaker’ questions to get the conversation started.
  • Observe your surroundings – the people around you, the outfit, food, weather, the place itself – and find a common topic.
  • Listen carefully to your partner and do not be afraid to ask if you do not understand them. Use ‘I’m sorry I didn’t quite catch that’, ‘Could you just say that again for me’, ‘I didn’t quite understand that’ or ‘I’m not sure what you mean’
  • Show your partner that you are listening by saying ‘Oh that’s interesting’ or ‘Really?’
  • Try some ‘conversation keepers’ such as So…; Incidentally…; By the way…; Before I forget…; Speaking of…; etc.
  • Give compliments sincerely
  • Smile and be friendly!


Here are some suitable topics for small talk

1) Sports – almost everyone likes some kind of sport.

2) Hobbies

4) Business and work

5) Weather and climate being experienced

7) Your respective spouses and children

8) Media – such as television shows, movies, or music that both of you may like

9) Holidays that you think the other person may enjoy

10) Your respective home towns

12) Current trends in art or fashion

13) Current affairs

Here are some useful ways of starting your questions

Conversation Openers

How have you been?

How was that meeting this morning?

I went to an interesting movie last night!

Did you have a nice weekend?

How’s your family?

I heard that you were in London recently.

What do you do?


How was your summer?

How was your weekend?

How do you like your company?

What do you think about this city?

Why did you want to be a computer engineer?


What is your job like?

Could you tell me about your country?

How would you describe that film?

If you are learning English for pleasure or for work, you will find these tips useful. Try to practise your English with a friend or on Skype with us. You will soon gain confidence.

Good luck with all your English learning!

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Trial English Lesson

Trial English Lesson

In this lesson your tutor will introduce themselves and ask you some questions about your life, interests and your English needs. You may use the preparation below to help you if you need it. It is there to help – do not feel that you have to prepare every answer.

Five sentences about you

Fill the gaps with information about you:

  1. My job is ___________.
  2. I am from ___________.
  3. I live with ___________.
  4. At weekends I like ___________.
  5. I have been learning English since / for      ___________.


  1. What do you do?
  2. How long have you been doing this job?
  3. What’s your favourite thing about your job?
  4. What’s the hardest thing about your job?
  5. What does your company do?

Your family

  1. Do you have any brothers or sisters? Describe them.
  2. Tell me about your family.
  3. Do you have any children?
  4. Do you have any pets?

Your town

  1. Where do you live?
  2. Have you always lived there?
  3. Do you like your town? Why / Why not?
  4. What can you do in your town at weekends?
  5. What kind of public transport system does your town have?


Your interests

  1. What do you like doing at weekends?
  2. Are you a sporty person?
  3. Do you have any favourite television shows?
  4. Do you like to travel?
  5. What was your last holiday?

You and English

  1. How long have you been learning English?
  2. Who was your favourite English teacher?
  3. Tell me about the last time you spoke English.
  4. Have you been to an English-speaking country?
  5. Do you get to speak English at work?

Ask your tutor similar questions about their job / town / family / hobbies / foreign languages.



1. Identifying your needs and setting your objectives

The first rule in ‘The English Languageroom’ is “Never be afraid to make a mistake”. Be brave and speak up! You are here to learn and your tutor is here to help. Let’s kick off by setting your objectives.

What do you feel are your strengths and weakness in English?

Choose from the options below.

  1. Listening -Understanding real English in different accents
  2. Reading – Understanding lengthy articles
  3. Vocabulary – Lack of makes all English complicated to understand!
  4. Speaking – Fluency and ability to converse on a variety of subjects
  5. Grammar – foundations are rusty and need to be gone over.

Think about your objectives if you book more sessions!

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