Learning English is great but how do you apply it in daily life? Daily conversation can oftentimes be quite different from the structured sentences we learn in the classroom. Communicating our thoughts, ideas and feelings effectively is what beginner language learners struggle with. How do we overcome this? Starting a conversation in English can seem overwhelming because it may seem scary in the beginning but it really doesn’t have to be. Hopefully the following tips and steps to starting a conversation in English will help you communicate freely.
Imagine you’re at a party and you don’t know anyone because you are new to the city. You’re standing against the window when suddenly, someone approaches you with a friendly smile and says, “Hi, how are you?”
“I’m very well, thank you. My name is Lisa, what’s your name?”
“Nice to meet you, Lisa. My name is Joe. How do you know the host?”
First of all, the best way to start a conversation in English is to get over any fear of speaking in English, the fear of making mistakes, and worrying that you may not be able to carry a conversation for more than a few sentences, like this student shares. No matter what happens, decide that you are more passionate about connecting with someone else, sharing your ideas and having a good time than worry about X, Y and Z. Remember, making mistakes is part of the process of learning anything new, including a language.
In a casual and party-like atmosphere there is an emphasis on having fun and less pressure to be professional. You can feel like you are able to chat comfortably about topics that are fun, light-hearted and funny. So let loose and have fun, especially if the conversation is started by someone else. That alone can take the pressure off of starting a conversation first.
If you happen to find yourself in a social setting and you wish to start a conversation with someone, think of a topic you can casually bring up once you’ve introduced yourself. Having a plan before starting a conversation can help make it easier. For example, perhaps you are a big sneaker fan and notice someone wearing a pair of shoes you really like and that you would like to compliment them on.
“Hey, how are you doing? I wanted to tell you that I really like your shoes! You’ve got great style. I’m a big fan of this brand as well. Where did you get yours from?”
Most likely the person you approached and complemented will be happy to be complemented and chat about the shoes. A key to great conversation is becoming a good listener. Listen and ask questions. By getting the other person to do the talking helps take the pressure off of you, makes them feel important and heard and overall, creates space for a deep and meaningful conversation.
Another great tip is to ask open-ended questions which requires further explanation rather than a “yes” or “no” answer which will likely end or close-out a conversation.
For example, you can ask “How often do you drink coffee?” versus, “Do you drink coffee?”.
“What is your favourite memory/restaurant/neighborhood in New York?” VS. “Did you like New York?”
“What is your favorite smoothie and what is the recipe?” VS. “Do you drink smoothies?”
Maintaining the conversation after the initial introduction is just as easy as starting the conversation. Ask open-ended questions, listen actively and ask meaningful questions regarding the topic or about themselves. When there is an opportunity to speak, openly communicate your thoughts on the topic as honestly as you can. Don’t worry if your grammar is correct, if you feel like you don’t have the proper vocabulary or pronunciation. This is your opportunity to jump in, make mistakes and to learn and grow! If you’re not sure, ask the other person to help you. Getting them engaged in the conversation in this way helps to create a connection and experience.
Are you still unsure if you can start a conversation in English? Maybe you aren’t able to start a conversation in English because you do not live in an English speaking country/area or don’t have anyone to speak English with in your day-to-day. Now let’s cue Cambly, the best platform to start speaking English with native English speakers on a regular basis. The tutors on Cambly are great at starting conversations in English because they are welcoming, helpful and curious about their students. Through practice and observation (rewatching your lessons), you will gain the experience and confidence required to start a conversation in English in a real life setting.
Sign in to Cambly and start a conversation in English today with any of our Cambly tutors. They are available on-demand so simply pick from any of the tutors online and get started. They are happy to help and will give you advice, experience, vocabulary and ideas needed.
Author: Grace Armani, Cambly Tutor
If you’d like to keep this conversation going with Grace, give her a call on Cambly or make a reservation with her here: https://www.cambly.com/en/student/tutor/Grace%20Armani