Hey there I'm Emma from mmmEnglish!
We're coming up to that time of year again when there
are lots of events and celebrations
that means lots of mingling, lots of chatting to people
that you don't know and making small talk.
It happens at work,
at gatherings with friends or friends of friends and
families of friends,
neighbours, even people that you bump into in the lift.
We've got to practise these skills.
With small talk, we can build rapport
with our colleagues, make new friends
and just generally feel more positive
about the interactions that we have with other people.
So today I'm going to take you through thirty questions
to make small talk, to build to the confidence
to start conversations in English.
But before I do, I want to give a quick shout out
to Lingoda who are sponsoring today's lesson.
If you want to overcome your fear of speaking
and you want to do it quickly, then you need
to hear about the new three month challenges:
the Sprint and the Super Sprint.
Both of these new promotions help you to commit
and take massive action to level up your language skills
in just three months.
And both give you the chance to get a refund
on the fees that you pay for your classes.
So what's the difference between the Sprint
and the Super Sprint?
The Sprint challenges you to take
fifteen classes a month for three months in a row.
Complete that and you get fifty per cent refund
on your course fees.
The Super Sprint challenges you to take
thirty classes per month for three months.
and you'll get a hundred percent refund
on your tuition fees, it's that simple.
I took the Lingoda Marathon and it was
one of the best things that I've ever done.
I practise my Spanish every day with native teachers
and I earned real certifications.
Lingoda is a quality language school which is of course
why I recommend them to you.
With small group classes available 24/7,
the flexibility is a huge plus.
The next Sprints are happening from January to April.
What a way to start the new year,
especially if you end up getting that refund right?
So if you think you've got what it takes,
secure your place by signing up
by December 19. You need to pay 49 euros as a deposit
and if you use this code,
you'll get 10 euros off that deposit.
All the rules and event details
are on the Lingoda website and of course,
I'll put the link to that in the description below.
Small talk is an incredibly important function of English
conversation. It's about comfort,
it's about helping two people: you and
the other person that you're talking to,
to feel comfortable with each other.
And the intention is to try and find some common
interests, something that you can share together.
So I want you to think of yourself as a detective.
You're searching for some information and some clues
to help you connect with someone, to find
some common ground and some shared interests.
A good way to approach small talk is to focus on a few
and the weather.
Now I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that
about ninety per cent of all small talk conversations
focus on these topics. Maybe even ninety five.
But this is great because it allows us to focus on
some really specific topics, right?
And help you to prepare for conversations
that you're very likely to actually experience.
There's another thing that's useful to keep in mind
with small talk and that's time.
With all of these topics, we can ask questions
that relate to the current situation now,
any experience in the past or any future dreams
or future plans, right?
So pay close attention to the examples
that I'm going to share because I'll be using
some different time references in these questions.
So let's get started with thirty questions
to help you master small talk conversations.
Starting with work. Now the most common question
here is "What do you do?"
So we're talking about now.
What's their current job?
Imagine that the person that you're talking to
said they're a nurse but we want to ask some more
detail, right? We want to find out how we can
continue the conversation.
So let's go back in time.
What motivated you to become a nurse?
Did you always want to be a nurse?
What was your first-ever job? Did you like it?
We can talk about the present as well.
What does your typical work day look like?
What do you love about your job?
And you can get a little creative with some future
questions as well.
So is this your dream job
or are you working towards something else?
You want to be careful here that you don't say
"working towards something bigger"
or "something better"
because it might be a little offensive, right?
You're sort of saying that their job
that they currently have isn't good enough.
If money wasn't an issue, what job would you want?
Some people might say that they don't want to work
if they didn't have any issues with money, right?
But you might have to rephrase that question and say
"Well what would you do?"
or "How would you spend your time?"
Another really great small talk topic
is just talking about life
and there's a couple of ways that you can do this.
You can pay attention to local news headlines,
this is a really good way of, you know,
finding things to talk about.
Did you hear about
the accident on the freeway last night?
It sounded awful, I got stuck in traffic for over two hours
Albeit you might end up talking a lot about
all of the negative stuff that we see in the news, right?
But you can also ask questions about what's happening
in a person's life.
So remember that your intention is to try and find some
common interests right? Some things
that you share, so that you can
keep talking about those things together.
Have you got much planned for the weekend?
This is a great question, it's my go-to.
Everyone loves talking about their plans on the weekend
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Now if they share something that you also like,
that's great because you can keep talking about
your shared interest
or if they share something that you don't know anything
about, ask them for more information.
That's so interesting!
I've never met anyone who keeps bees
and makes their own honey.
How much honey do you get each week?
Have you ever been bitten by a bee?
Is it easy to keep bees
or do you have to be an expert?
Have you read any good books lately?
Have you seen any good movies?
If you're a mum or you're a dad, you might even ask
"So do you have any kids?"
because this is a great way to connect with someone.
You talk about your kid's
ages, interests maybe even their naughty habits.
Same thing with pets actually.
Have you noticed that I've been using 'so' quite a bit
to introduce a new idea to a conversation.
This is really quite a natural way to introduce a new
question. One that's unrelated to what you've been
talking about previously.
It's a really helpful conversation tool.
So are you from here?
This is a great question to help explore someone's
past, go back in time.
Where did you live before this?
Is this city quite different to that city?
Where did you grow up?
Travel is a great small talk topic. It's something
that we love talking about and we love sharing.
So we can talk about our past experience
or we can talk about travel plans and dreams
for the future, right?
If you're coming up to a holiday season
you're heading into summer,
then a great conversation starter is
"So are you planning on getting away for the holidays?"
Are you taking time off over Christmas?
Or whatever holiday is coming up.
But if it's not that time of year, you can easily
start a conversation by introducing some context, right?
By sharing your experience first
and then inviting their input.
So I've just got back from a trip to Japan.
Have you ever been?
Or maybe you might know something about
You went to Peru last year, didn't you?
I'm planning on taking my fiancee to South America
in June. It's our first time
and I'm not really sure
which countries we're going to visit.
Do you have any recommendations?
Do you have any recommendations about which
country to visit in South America?
I am thinking about a trip next year.
I love travelling.
I hope to visit Kerala in the south of India
at some point soon.
What places are on your bucket list?
I'm actually really keen to hear your answers
to this question. What places are on your bucket list?
What places are you dreaming about visiting?
Make sure you let me know in the comments.
Just like travel, food is another great small talk topic.
It's something that we all have in common.
We do it at least three times a day,
so there are plenty of opportunities
to start a conversation about food.
I'm trying to decide where to go for lunch,
do you know any good restaurants around here?
I'm cooking lasagna for dinner tonight.
What about you?
Hey have you tried that new Thai restaurant
on Church Street? I've heard it's amazing.
Do you like Thai food?
Now I just can't leave weather off the list.
This is the absolute number one small talk topic.
It can be used as a simple passing comment, right?
It's a beautiful day today, isn't it?
Can you believe all the rain we've been having lately?
But you can also use the weather as a way to spark
a conversation, by using it to introduce
another topic or another activity.
It's pouring out there! It's a shame I rode my bike today.
How did you get to work?
So there you have it! Thirty different questions, thirty
ways to start a conversation with small talk in English.
Now I'm going to set a little homework for you,
a little challenge, okay?
Because memorising and practising the questions
that I've shared with you today is one thing,
that's great practice but of course,
what you need is to be ready to answer
those questions as well
so that you can keep the conversation going.
So your homework is to think of your own answers
to these questions too. Once you ask them
and then you hear the answer, you want to be ready
with your own experiences and your own opinions
to share, right? To keep the small talk going.
If you'd like me to make some conversation workouts
about each of these topics just like this one,
then make sure you tell me in the comments,
that way we can practise asking questions
and responding to them out loud together.
We're going to focus on tone and pronunciation
to help them come out really naturally.
And don't forget to check out Lingoda,
the link is in the description below.
Remember to use my code to get 10 euros
off your deposit, if you sign up before December 19th.
You can find me on Facebook and on Instagram.
If you don't follow me on Instagram yet
then come and check it out, this is where I share
a little bit of personal stuff about my life
and about the amazing people that are in it.
If you're ready to keep practising with me now,
then come and check out these lessons here.
I think you're going to love them. I'll see you in there.