how to have small talk in English

How to Have Small Talk in English

Small talk is often referred to as an “art” (and many books are sold about it) because it requires a skill to create and maintain an engaging conversation with someone. So if you’re trying to learn English, and lack confidence to communicate, how are you suppose to master and perfect this skill?

If you feel uncomfortable about starting a conversation with a co-worker, classmate, neighbor, or someone who’s not a friend, then today’s 60 Second Saturday lesson is for you.

Today, let’s a new way to start small talk in English.

How to Have Small Talk in English

First, what is small talk exactly?

Small talk is the name for a polite conversation that people have in a variety of situations. It’s not typically the type of conversation that friends have, but conversations among strangers and acquaintances in social, professional, or academic situations. These types of conversations are about topics that are light, unimportant, and non-controversial. The most common are things like: the weather, sports, things happening locally in your city, etc..

How to start small talk

As I mentioned, you can talk about unimportant topics like the weather or sports. Perhaps you saw a movie you liked recently or went to a new restaurant. These are great topics for small talk. Remember to avoid topics like politics or religion!

However, another great way to start small talk is to use a compliment + a question.

A compliment is a statement that is positive and good about someone or something.  A compliment is an expression of praise and admiration. Everyone loves a compliment, right? This is why it’s a great way to start a conversation.

The compliment may not be enough though, and this is why you should follow it up with a question related to it.

Examples:

  • That’s a cute top (shirt), where’s it from?
  • I love your hair! Is your stylist local?
  • Your English is great! Who is your teacher?
  • I think that bracelet is so pretty. Did you buy it around here?
  • You’re from Brazil, I think that country is beautiful. I’ve always wanted to go, where would you recommend I visit first?
  • Those shoes are super cool! Where can I find a pair similar?

Practice Makes Perfect

How have you started small talk in the past? Have you ever used a compliment + question? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Additionally, practice by writing some sample compliment statement + follow-up questions. You can do this below in the comments, or in your own notebook.

Good luck and until next time,

Happy Studying! ♥

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2 Comments

  1. Farid on August 7, 2017 at 11:19 am

    Hello my dear Tutor
    what you are presenting is very interesting,and also crucial..
    i really appreciate your work ,thank you so much
    All the best

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