Starting an Informal Conversation

English Speaking Topic

Nick and Becky have come to a college to enrol on an evening course in Spanish. While they are waiting to enrol, they start up a conversation.

A The course looks popular, doesn’t it?
B Yes, it does. Have you done Spanish before?
A No, I haven’t. But I’ve just got a job in international sales so I thought it would be good to learn Spanish. What about you?
B I’ve done a course before, but the trouble is, if you don’t practise, you forget everything. I don’t really need it for my job so I’m worried the same thing might happen again!
A What exactly do you do?
B I’m an accountant.
A Well, you could always work in Spain. They need accountants too!
B That’s an idea! Oh, look, you’re next in the queue. Good luck!

 

Useful tips to start an informal conversation

Successful small talk or informal conversation isn’t about saying brilliant things. It’s about commenting on and asking about ordinary things with interest and enthusiasm.

  • Try to find something in common with your listener.
  • Try to match the mood of your listener. Don’t try to be light-hearted if they seem serious.
  • Don’t answer in one-word sentences. Try to give more information or say something interesting about where you come from, your job, etc.
  • Remember to ask questions too – don’t just talk about yourself.

Cultural note

Be aware that different cultures have different ways of making conversation, i.e. the pauses between what one speaker says and the response of the other speaker are not always the same length. What may seem like a very long silence to you may be quite normal in another culture.

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