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.
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
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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We offer a free consultation. You want to learn English online? You want to have English lessons? You would like to practise your spoken English through Skype or on the telephone? You don’t want to spend time having a full trial lesson but would like some feedback on your English skills?
All you need to do is pick up the phone or add us to your Skype contact list and we will have a chat with you one-to-one. This consultation is completely free and there is no obligation to book lessons. We are here to help you with your English – that is our mission. You can contact us at a time convenient to you or email/message on Skype to let us know when you are free. Our experienced tutors can let you know your IELTS level or help with a grammar point or just have a chat.
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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:
- My job is ___________.
- I am from ___________.
- I live with ___________.
- At weekends I like ___________.
- I have been learning English since / for ___________.
- What do you do?
- How long have you been doing this job?
- What’s your favourite thing about your job?
- What’s the hardest thing about your job?
- What does your company do?
- Do you have any brothers or sisters? Describe them.
- Tell me about your family.
- Do you have any children?
- Do you have any pets?
- Where do you live?
- Have you always lived there?
- Do you like your town? Why / Why not?
- What can you do in your town at weekends?
- What kind of public transport system does your town have?
- What do you like doing at weekends?
- Are you a sporty person?
- Do you have any favourite television shows?
- Do you like to travel?
- What was your last holiday?
You and English
- How long have you been learning English?
- Who was your favourite English teacher?
- Tell me about the last time you spoke English.
- Have you been to an English-speaking country?
- 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.
- Listening -Understanding real English in different accents
- Reading – Understanding lengthy articles
- Vocabulary – Lack of makes all English complicated to understand!
- Speaking – Fluency and ability to converse on a variety of subjects
- Grammar – foundations are rusty and need to be gone over.
Think about your objectives if you book more sessions!
We are here to help: Email us with any questions or go to our website and click on
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