Lesson Transcript

Alisha: Hi, everybody! Welcome back to English Topics. My name is Alisha and I'm joined by…
Davey: Davey.
Alisha: Hi, Davey. So, today, our topic is going to be "How to Start a Conversation in English." So, both of us have tried to prepare a few tips that might help you as you try to start conversations in your English language studies. So, let's begin.
Alisha: You're going to start first again?
Davey: Okay.
Alisha: I'll start. I can start first again.
Davey: I'll start.
Alisha: Okay. You go first.
Davey: We're giving tips on how to start a conversation and I will start today. My first tip is very important. I'm trying to follow myself right now, "don't be shy." Very important tip. This isn't really so much a language learning tip. Well, it doesn't seem like a language learning tip but I think it really is because whenever you communicate in a second language or a foreign language, it can be really nerve-racking. It can make you very nervous very anxious to try and do that especially if you're talking to someone for the first time. And so, the first thing is just to remind yourself that it's not a big deal and to not be shy and be confident and if you can maintain that attitude as you begin to talk to someone it will be much easier, I think.
Alisha: I agree. I agree or even like you say, even if you are shy just pretend that you're not shy.
Davey: That's a good tip.
Alisha: You know, if you can just pretend just for a few minutes just to start the conversation or to continue a conversation a little bit, it can be good even if you feel shy.
Davey: I agree and you might find too oftentimes people who would say that they are shy, when they talk to someone in another language, they can have a different personality. It's a chance to have a different personality in a different language. So, if you tell yourself that too, when you speak English, when you speak another language, you're more confident than you are when you speak your own language.
Alisha: Yeah, that's true. I've heard that before actually people who say that they feel like they're more outgoing when they speak English. If that's the case, maybe that's good for you. Also, just in general, another point about—maybe not only starting conversations but continuing them to work comfortably. English language speakers are with interruptions to some point like you shouldn't always interrupt…
Davey: Yup, they are pretty comfortable with it.
Alisha: …the other speaker. See? He just did it. So, we're very comfortable with it. So, you don't need to wait for an invitation to speak in a conversation. You can just join in or maybe agree with the person who's speaking or disagree with the person who's speaking, as a way to join a conversation that's already in progress. Yeah. Nice one. That's a good one.
Okay. I will share a tip. Mine are a little bit--I don't know. They're very dependent on maybe who you're talking to, maybe what your relationship is. So, let's say for this one you are in a place where like a restaurant or a bar or something and you don't know the person you'd like to speak to but maybe there's someone attractive you'd like to speak to or maybe you want to speak with the bartender or something. So, maybe this is better if you're trying to speak to a fellow customer. So, I have—it's sort of small—"make a simple comment about something happening in the surroundings." So, this should be, one, a simple comment, two, something that the other person can clearly see, and three, something that you can agree on easily. So, for example, if somebody has just walked by the restaurant wearing a crazy hat, you could say, "Oh, did you see that guy?" Something like that. Something that it's easy to agree on to initiate the conversation. Or maybe there's a TV in the bar like "Whoa, did you see that play?" or something that maybe you can identify that you may be shared with the other person during the time you've been in that space together. So, this should be a very simple comment. Don't make a weird comment here. Make it very, very relaxed. Create a relaxed environment that the other person feels they can join in easily. Mm.
Davey: That's a very good tip.
Alisha: I'm trying to think of maybe a time that I used this or maybe I wanted to make a comment and there was another person that happened to be there and we had a moment where we agreed on something.
Davey: Right.
Alisha: But then the conversation didn't really continue.
Davey: Yes.
Alisha: So, it's kind of a good way to test and see if that other person wants to speak to you too.
Davey: Yes, yeah. That's a good point and it makes me think—this isn't one of my tips this is an extra—a free tip. You're getting a free, freebie tip now—
Alisha: Tips everywhere.
Davey: They're flying around. To be patient, wait for your opening too because you might want to talk to this person next to you but if you just butt in with a question out of nowhere it might seem very strange. But, if you wait and have a moment, wait for that guy with the funny hat to walk by, and then, you have your opening, then you have a natural point that you can enter a conversation with someone
Alisha: Yeah, and I think—
Davey: So, be patient.
Alisha: Totally. Going back to your point about not being shy, don't be so focused on waiting for that moment that you just pick something really strange.
Davey: Yes. Yeah.
Alisha: Like, if I like walked up to you, I don't know you, in a bar, "Did you hear that noise?"
Davey: Yes.
Alisha: I think that's a really strange question. Maybe he did hear that noise but that's a really strange question to introduce yourself.
Davey. Yeah. That's true. Actually, all this kind of relates to my second tip. That's very similar to your tip about making a kind of comment was "ask an indirect question." And, I noticed a lot of the comments, your tip was to make a comment but a lot of your comments, the examples you gave are questions.
Alisha: That's true.
Davey: Importantly, I think that those questions should be kind of indirect questions. For example, if I'm standing at the bus stop and I want to start a conversation with someone else standing at the bus stop. Let's say it's very, very hot but if I turn to that person and say, "Do you think it's hot?" That's very strange. But, if I say something like, "Oh, it's pretty hot today, right?" You know that's a little bit more casual, a little bit more informal.
Alisha: Yeah.
Davey: You don't want to scare people with these very direct questions.
Alisha: That's true. That's true and even a question--that's a great example. "Do you think it's hot?" is a really weird question.
Davey: Very strange question.
Alisha: But, again, keeping or giving people that opportunity to agree with you.
Davey: Yes.
Alisha: You're throwing a little opinion out there. "It's hot right?" "Oh, yeah, it's hot."
Davey: It's true.
Alisha: That's a really, really good one. I totally agree. But, I think for that exact same reason, I've had some people come up to me and they try to begin a conversation with, "How are you?"
Davey: Yeah, that's—
Alisha: That's an introduction that you use for people that you already know.
Davey: Yes.
Alisha: So, don't try to start a conversation with, "How are you?" It sounds too familiar and it's a little confusing.
Davey: Strangers don't always want to tell you how they are.
Alisha: That's true. What if I'm bad? I don't want to tell you. What if I feel bad that day? Yeah. So, don't use how are you to introduce yourself. Nice one. Okay.
Davey: So, what do you have next?
Alisha: Actually, maybe this is somewhat related to the one you just mentioned.
Davey: Okay.
Alisha: I've got—okay, this is maybe at a party or a social event situation. I have, "energetically introduce yourself and ask a question about where you are." So, this might be a little specific. But, if you go to a social event where you're there to meet people and to speak to people, if you go up to someone and you just introduce yourself with a big smile and say, "Hi! my name is Alisha. Have you ever been to one of these events before?" Something like that can get the conversation started. But, again, this is I feel like--it's a tip that's good in a place where everyone is there for a similar purpose. If you do that-- to use your example, at the bus station, it's a little bit weird or if you're if you're just in public, you pass someone on the street, it's a little strange to just walk up and introduce someone energetically. But, if you're in a location where you have this chance, there are a couple of nice little introductory questions you could use for events. That's one that I've used, "Hi. Is this your first time here?" or "Who do you know at this party?" "How did you find out about this event?" That sort of thing.
Davey: Also, similar kind of question in those situations is asking someone for help or for information because it lets that other person know that you're not a scary or threatening person in that situation either if you're asking for help. You know, "Can you can you tell me where the kitchen is? I need to put this in the refrigerator," something like that. And then, that shows the other and that you're not you're not an expert on this, you're asking for their help and that kind of gives people an easy thing to engage you on to talk about
Alisha: Yeah. Absolutely.
Davey: Asking for help can be a nice way, too.
Alisha: Yeah. That's a good point. I think asking for help. It also kind of puts you in a slightly vulnerable position. It makes you seem a little bit like, "I need help. Please take care of me." It's a little bit interesting. So, that's a good tip, too, I think. Okay.
I think we're on to number three for you.
Davey: We are. My last one is a very important one. This comes at the end though. It's "don't take it personally if the person doesn't want to talk." A lot of times if you try and start a conversation with a stranger, they don't always want to talk to you. People try and talk to the stranger, tries to talk to me. I might be very busy, I might have had a bad day, I may not want to talk to them, that doesn't mean that they're a bad person or they can't speak English or anything like that. So, if you have that experience--you know, my first tip was "don't be shy." You might be very nervous about starting a conversation with someone, and then, you work up the courage you go and you ask them a question and they don't want to talk to you. That's okay. Don't take it personally. It has nothing to do with you. You know, you can find someone else to talk to.
Alisha: Mm-hmm. That's true. That's true and I think that's especially important because depending on the culture that you're from, you might have heard like, "Oh, English speakers, particularly American, they're so friendly or so outgoing." But if a stranger tries to speak to me or to you, maybe we're going to ignore you on the street because we don't know who that person is or maybe like you said, we've had a bad day or whatever it is. There are so many reasons not to want to talk to a person that you don't know so don't be offended, don't be sad.
Davey: Don't be discouraged, don't think that, "Oh, my English is so bad. This person didn't want to talk to me." Don't think that. That it could be any other reason why someone doesn't want to talk to you
Alisha: Mm-hmm. That's true. That's true. Nice tip. That's really important. Okay, then we will move on to my last one.
Okay. So, for my last one, this is maybe among people that you have some acquaintance with. Maybe you're not super close to them but you've seen them before or maybe it's coworkers you're not super close to but anyway you'd like to make your relationship with those people deeper. "you can share a story about something you did recently." Something interesting, a small short story. Don't tell a long, ten-minute story about going shopping for milk on the weekend. That's boring. But, something interesting that you did, relatively recently that maybe they can find something of interest or something of value in. So, maybe you found a new restaurant that was good, maybe you went to a concert and that was exciting, maybe you met someone interesting. So, if there's something that you can share about yourself that the other person might find valuable, that's a good way to initiate conversation.
Davey: Yeah. On that point, if I can add another free tip.
Alisha: Oh, my gosh.
Davey: On that note, it made me think, you spoke earlier about being vulnerable, asking-asking for help can show that you're vulnerable. Tell an embarrassing story.
Alisha: That's good, too.
Davey: Don't brag. Don't talk about this great new car that you bought, no one wants to hear that. Talk about how you lost your car keys immediately after you bought your new car. Tell an embarrassing story. Tell something that will make the person laugh and will make you be vulnerable and look like a normal person.
Alisha: That's true. That's true. Telling—actually, that's a good strategy. It's called self-deprecation. So, it means to make yourself look bad or to put yourself in a lower status, a lower position and it can be very effective for making friends and like making people laugh. I totally do this. It's actually a lot of fun when you think about it like a story about something bad happening is often times more interesting than a story about something good happening.
Davey: That's true. All the best comedies are about terrible things happening
Alisha: Yeah. So, if you have something like a little—yeah, like you lost your car keys or you had some kind of funny episode where maybe you don't look like the hero of the story that's a really good one to share. Have you had anything happened to you recently?
Davey: Oh, my gosh. I probably have.
Alisha: I lost my bag I just came back from traveling in Europe and my bag got lost between Dubai Airport and Tokyo Airport. And so, my bag didn't arrive so I had to go two days without any of my clothes or anything. And then, when I finally got my bag, I was like, "Yay!" I got it from the delivery guy. I was so happy. I opened it up like my sunscreen and exploded inside my bag. I was like, "Hmm, yeah. At least, I have my objects." I have my clothes and thing.
Davey: And, they won't get sunburned.
Alisha: Exactly. Now, I won't sunburn any of my clothes. So, yeah. So, I mean it's like a small relatable, "Hmm, that moment." Small relatable story that maybe someone else can identify like, "Oh, that happened to me one time," and then, the conversation rolls from there. So, nice tip. Okay, are you out of free tips? Are those all your free tips?
Davey: That's all for today
Alisha: For conversation starters.
Davey: That's all I got today.
Alisha: We can't continue this conversation. That's a different subject.
Alright. Well, we'll finish there for today. Thanks very much for joining us for this episode of English Topics. Davey, thanks very much for joining us.
Davey: Thank you for having me.
Alisha: If you like this video, please make sure to hit the like button and subscribe to our channel as well. Also, if you want to find more content like this, please make sure to check us out at EnglishClass101.com. If have any ideas for how to start a conversation that you use, please make sure to leave it in a comment too so we can check it out. Thanks very much for watching this episode and we'll see you again soon. Bye.
Davey: Bye!