Lesson Transcript

Alisha: Hi, everybody! My name is Alisha and I'm joined again in the studio by…
Michael: Michael. Hello.
Alisha: And, today we're going to be talking about English conversation strategies. Let's get right into it. Let's start with Michael. What is your first strategy for keeping an English conversation going?
Michael: This is very important. "Don't say, 'I'm fine, thank you. And you?'" You hear this all the time from second language English learners or non-native speakers. It's one of the first things you learn in an English class. It's easy, it's good, it's a basic foundation. Okay, that's fine. But, as soon as you can switch it up. Because, to me, when I meet a foreigner and they come up, and if they say, "Hey, how are you?" Say, "Oh, I'm fine. I'm good. How about you?" And they say, "I'm fine, thank you. And you?" And it's almost robotic because I've said it so many times, and when I hear that, I think their English isn't that good. And, inside, I'm just going to be really polite and say, "Hello," and talk slowly and try to get out of there as quick as I can. To really impress the foreigner, in my opinion, I think the best way to do it is say something-- Use a big word or just like a slang word. Something like that. When I hear that, I go, "Wow, man! I want to know what this person thinks! I want to get their point of view! And I'm really excited," and then I've had great conversations because of that.
Alisha: That's a really good one, and actually, I think on this YouTube channel, from a couple years ago, there's a video all about better answers to the question "How are you?" than "I'm fine, thank you. And you?" or if someone says, "Hey, how are you? I'm good! You?" or "Fine. You?" Never "I'm fine, thank you. And you?" Never. But try to actually use a phrase that a native speaker would use, and then that's a clue to the native speaker that, "Oh, maybe this person is ready for a conversation beyond basic English." That's a really good point. I like that. I didn't think of things not to do. I only thought of things to do.
Let's see. Let's go to my first one. This strategy, in general, is just "ask the other person a question." I'm guilty of this too when I'm learning another language. I tend to only get input. Somebody else is always asking me the questions, and then I forget myself to ask the other person a question. One question that I like to ask or a variation, any kind of "WH" question is good, like a "who" question, "what," "where." Something like this, if you've been paying attention, you can use anyway to transition in your conversation. This was in a previous video. You can ask something like anyway up to anything fun this weekend. This is a pretty casual, conversational question that you can ask just about anybody, whether you've just met them or whether you've known them for a while, but just get in the habit of asking other people the question. Don't wait for someone else to ask you the question. So, that's one strategy that I tried to use to keep things going.
Michael: Yeah, me too. I agree, and I'm going to say, "samesies," because actually, two of my questions were exactly what you said. Agree 100%. This is kind of cheating. These should be one. So, "always ask questions." Again, you forget it's really easy. I'm really guilty of this, English, non-English, whatever. I'm guilty of this. And, the other thing is ask deep, open-ended questions. If you ask a yes-or-no question, just like what Alisha was saying, it just dead ends. You can't just say, "Do you like cheese?" "Yes," or "No." You would want to say, "What do you think about cheese? What is your favorite kind?" And kind of open it up to something else and let it just kind of snowball.
Alisha: Right. Yeah, I think that's really a key. I have another variation. I guess I'll just continue on because it kind of relates to what you're talking about. He's saying always ask questions, always ask deep open-ended questions. Don't ask a yes-or-no question because yes or no ends with the "Yes" or the "No." One of the things that I'll do is use a pattern similar to this, "Hey, did you see...?" or "Hey, did you hear about blah, blah, blah?" So, you can use this little "blah, blah, blah" as your--you can ask about the news. You can ask about something funny you saw on the Internet. You can ask about something that you heard from another friend of yours, whatever. It's just a way to check in with the other person and say, "Oh, did you also experience this thing that I experienced? Let's talk about that." That might be another question that you can use with people.
Michael: I like that one. I really like that one because you got to stay within people's comfort zone. Maybe you asked, and maybe they don't want to, right? A good thing is, "Did you hear about it?" That's up to him. Maybe they don't want to talk about it. They can say, "Oh, yeah. I heard about that," and you can kind of feel the atmosphere and realize, "Maybe I shouldn't talk about this." Change the subject, or they get passionate and they start talking about it, and there you go and just let it go. Yeah, absolutely. One thing, again, I'm guilty of is you got to keep returning it. Don't just say, "Oh, yeah, and what I think about that..." Bring it back. Ask them, "What about you?" That's a common thing I forget about.
Alisha: Good. I have one more. This one, use when you see fit, I guess. I'll just introduce it. Compliment the other person. This can be a nice strategy just to show that you're enjoying the other person's company. It can be as simple as, "Oh, I like your shirt today," or "Oh, that's a nice dress you're wearing today," or "Oh, did you get a new haircut? That looks good on you!" Something like that. This is a nice way to make the other person maybe want to spend more time with you, I think.
Michael: I agree 100% Two things: One, I think it's a good conversation starter sometimes. If, you got to be careful. With a stranger, it can be creepy. It can be a little uncomfortable, what you're complimenting, right? But if it's something like, if they have a t-shirt and it's a band that you both like, that's a great conversation starter, and you feel, "Wow, we're connected." Number two, the second thing I was thinking about is that keep it honest. I love a sincere compliment. It really means a lot more, and it really does butter them up, kind of get them open to having more conversations deeper, that kind of thing. But one of the things people do, which I don't like is, let's say they say, "Hey, nice shirt!" And then the person, out of habit, will say, "Oh, you too. I like your shirt, too." Just my opinion, I don't think this feels really natural. It doesn't really feel sincere, so I would save it, make a mental note, and go, "Hmm, I need to return the favor. I need to give them a compliment." But, wait until you notice something you really do like and say, "Hey, actually, I love blah, blah, blah."
Alisha: Yeah, I think that's a great point. When you can sense whether someone is being sincere or not, what is your next strategy for continuing an English conversation?
Michael: Well, "don't be afraid to open up." I like this one. I think this is good. A lot of people will be kind of shy. They won't open up too much. Again, within your comfort zone, but I like this one because people return the favor. Because if you're just having small talk and you say, "The weather is nice today. Blah, blah, blah," you can only go so far. So, don't be afraid to say something personal. Again, trust your judgment. Don't be a creeper. We don't want to hear certain things about your life.
Alisha: Don't be a creep. Don't be weird. Don't be strange. Like what you're saying about opening up, "open up" is just a phrase that means "share something about yourself." It can be as simple as what you did last weekend or what you're going to do this weekend or a project that you have coming up. It doesn't mean that you have to spill all of your life secrets to the other person but just showing that you're willing to share something more personal about yourself can help ingratiate yourself or can help the other person understand you a little bit better. That's a good tip. I like that tip. That's hard to do, though. It's hard. It's a little bit scary, I think, to share parts of yourself, but it's good. It's a good way to meet people and make friends.
Alright. I think that's all. Is that all that you have?
Michael: Yeah, that's all I got.
Alisha: Okay. Those are some interesting strategies to keep an English conversation going, so give them a try. If you're ever at a loss for words and don't know what to say, you can try one of these strategies, and hopefully, it will help you out. Please let us know if you have any other strategies or anything else that you would like to use or you try to use when you are having trouble keeping a conversation going. Leave us a comment and let us know what it is. We will see you again next time. Do you have anything else you'd like to add?
Michael: That's about it.
Alisha: Alright! Thanks very much for joining us and take care. Bye-bye!

14 Comments

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😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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Which strategy do you like the most?

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Monday at 09:18 AM
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Hello Edgar and Maroua,


Thank you both for taking the time to post. 👍


@Maroua - You could also say "I'm well thanks!" or 'I'm great thank you."


Please feel free to ask us any questions you have throughout your studies.


Sincerely,

Éva

Team EnglishClass101.com

Edgar
Thursday at 01:13 AM
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Sério! Se vocês ouvem alguém conversar e percebem que o Inglês não é fluente vocês ' tentam sair o mais rápido possível da conversa'? Não soa um pouco esnobe, altivo? De qualquer forma, prometo... se quiserem ter uma conversa em Português terei o maior prazer em tentar entende-los, independente do nível de fluência. Acredito que em uma conversação o principal é ser eficiente em se fazer entender.

maroua
Tuesday at 01:59 AM
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what can we say instead of "I'm fine thank you"

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Saturday at 11:39 AM
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Hello Jair,


A big thank you for your post and the positive feedback!


Feel free to ask us any questions that come up!


Cheers,

Éva

Team EnglishClass101.com

jair
Friday at 10:33 AM
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👍❤️️

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Wednesday at 03:29 PM
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Hi there Youssef,


Thanks for taking the time to write to us! 😄


Feel free to shoot through any questions you have throughout your studies.


Cheers,

Éva

Team EnglishClass101.com

YoussefMilad
Monday at 07:02 AM
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I think this vid should be named "How to get a friend" hehe

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Monday at 04:13 PM
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Hi there Cesar,


Thanks for your post and the positive feedback!


We are constantly updating the lessons on our site so please stay tuned! 👍


Feel free to ask us any questions that come up.


Cheers,

Éva

Team EnglishClass101.com

Cesar Gaona Bejarano
Friday at 03:34 AM
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I Think taht The Video is Very Useful this is one of my favorites.

Englishclass101.com Verified
Friday at 07:38 PM
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Hi Chelsea,


Thank you for your message.


This quote from the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, is perfect to help you build up confidence in yourself:


"Believe you can and you’re halfway there." :wink:


Keep up studying, improving your skills and have confidence in yourself :thumbsup: You'll do great!


And if you need any assistance, we're here to help you :)


Sincerely


Cristiane

Team Englishclass101.com