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To strike up a conversation and we all want to avoid awkward silence can be difficult. Personal meetings and business meetings in English are more prosperous when we have a conversation system. Here are some fun ways and tricks to use English in conversation, even if you don’t know everyone in the room, don’t know English grammar, don’t know English vocabulary, and are still learning English.
Ways to Begin A Conversation in English
When you don’t know a person and you’re not sure if you should speak and what you should say is one of the most nerve-wracking situations. When we are scared to talk with strangers in English it’s usually because we are scared that people will think we aren’t intelligent. It’s fully natural. But when the conversation has already begun, someone feels more comfortable joining it.
Icebreakers are phrases that are developed to help kick off conversations. So, a good icebreaker might be the answer if you’re wondering what to say when you meet new people. Let’s practice some questions, phrases, and expressions that you can use to confidently initiate conversations with any person you meet.
Beginning A Conversation with a Friend:
With friends, you can use informal English terms like these:
- What’s up?
- How’s it going?
“Not much” is the proper answer to reply to “What’s up?”. If somebody says “How’s it going?” you can reply as “Good” or “Not much good” and then say the reason.
Beginning A Conversation With A Colleague:
In the office, you use slightly more formal English, such as these familiar expressions:
- Hi, Lisy. How are you doing?
- How’s your day going?
- We’re sure having a busy/slow day today.
- Have you heard the news about a cricket match?
- (on Friday): Have you got any projects for the weekend?
- (on Monday): How was your weekend?
You can talk about projects you’re performing on, or about hobbies you have outside work. Current national and international news is also a suitable topic of conversation.
Beginning A Conversation With A Friend Who You Haven’t Seen in A Long Period:
Here are some common expressions to begin a conversation with someone you see after a long break:
- Hi Simi! How have you been?
- Long time no see!
- So, what have you been up to lately?
- How’s your family?
- Are you still working at ABC Company?
At this point, you can ask about news about your friend’s work, study, family, hobbies, etc. The friend will likely ask you about recent updates in your own life, too.
Beginning A Conversation At A Party Or Marriage:
- I don’t think we’ve met – I’m Saina.
- Are you from New York?
- So, how do you know Mary?
- Have you tried the chocolate cake? It’s delicious!
If you’re at a party or marriage, you can begin a conversation by asking how the person knows the host of the party (or the people getting married). You can also comment about the food and drinks, or the music.
Beginning A Conversation At A Conference Or Work Affair:
- I don’t think we’ve met – I’m Saina.
- So, where are you from?
- What did you think of the speaker?
- That was an amazing workshop – I learned a lot. How about you?
The expression “I don’t think we’ve met” can be employed in professional situations too. You can ask about the person’s job, what company they are from, and their views about the conference events.
Beginning A Conversation Beginning A Conversation with Somebody You Meet Outside:
- It’s a lovely day, isn’t it?
- It looks like it’s going to rain/snow.
- Can you believe all this weather we’ve been having?
- Sure is a hot/cold one today!
- Your dog is so cute! What’s his name?
If you’re in a park, on the street, etc., the most ordinary way to start a conversation is by speaking about the weather.
Beginning A Conversation with A Stranger in Other Conditions:
The secret to beginning a conversation with somebody you don’t know is to comment on the current social context. Here are mentioned a few examples of how to do this:
- At an art gallery: “That’s an impressive painting. What do you think of it?”
- At a bar: “This song is so lovely, I love Salsa music. How about you?”
- At a sports game: “Wow, that was a fabulous game! So, who’s your favorite one?”
- At a cafe: “Bro, do I need a Tea!”
- At a playground: “My kids are full of joy today!
As in the example of the cafe and playground, you don’t require to ask a direct question. You can simply comment on the other person, and this is like an invitation for the other person to comment, too. This can then start a conversation.
Beginning A Conversation with Someone, You Have Just Been Introduced To:
- Nice to meet you!
- How do you two know each other?
- So, what do you do for a living? (= what is your job?)
- What are you studying?
- How long have you been (a reporter / doing workout/ interested in music)?
- How did you get into it?
Imagine you have a friend, Zara, who introduces you to her friend Ray. You can ask about how they know each other, and about Ray’s job. If Zara says Ray is a student, you can ask about his area of study and what year of college he’s in. If Zara introduces Ray as a journalist, a friend from yoga class, or a musician, you can ask about how long he has done that activity, or how he first got curious about it. His answer will then deliver material to continue the conversation.
How To Overpower Your Fear Of Speaking English?
- Select speaking activities that provoke less fear
There are lots of speaking activities you can do that don’t need another person, such as shadowing or even just speaking to yourself. These permit you to practice speaking without having to do it with a real person.
Start with some of these spoken English sentences everyday andto enhance your speaking confidence. Once you’re a bit comfier, you’ll feel less awkward when you’re having conversations with others.
- Start online
A less stressful way to begin speaking in English is by doing it through text. If you’re writing, you get a bit more period to think about what you want to say… and maybe even to use Google Translate if you want to. So start online.
You can use online language learning forums like “English Padikkyam with Inverted Coconut” by ENTRI, chat rooms, or message boards. You can even begin conversations through social media. These opportunities give you a bit more time and enable you to practice the rhythm of a conversation without the fear that comes with actually speaking.
- Join a community
Another useful way to overcome your fear of speaking is to join a community of language learners who are just like you. These communities can be more useful and can help dismiss some of your anxiety about speaking English.
There are several great communities for English learners, including Facebook groups, Discord servers, and WhatsApp groups. Our favorite is, of course, the voice practice group in the Course “English Padikkyam with Inverted Coconut” by ENTRI. We’ve got a small but growing and dynamic group of people on there and I encourage you to check it out.
- Select comfortable language partners
The people you know—your friends and relatives—may be less harsh than strangers. Discover partners that you know to help you feel less tense.
Finding a language exchange member may also be a good choice. In a language exchange, you might communicate in English for 30 minutes and then switch roles and talk in your native language for 30 minutes.
The beauty of this is that both individuals are the “learner” and feel the discomfort that comes with understanding another language. And, both people get to feel the comfort that comes with expressing one’s language. Being capable to see your fellow struggle and make mistakes may help you overcome your fear of making mistakes.
- Create your other English skills
Sometimes we’re scared to speak another language because we know we’re not very good at it. So one way to overpower your fear of speaking English is to enhance your skills. Of course, enhancing your speaking skills is necessary, but so are the others: listening, reading, and writing.
According to Krashen’s input hypothesis, listening to English and reading it are two of the best ways to enhance your general English level. He claims that these provide the comprehensible input that is vital for you to develop a language.
There’s quite a bit of analysis on this. It’s obvious, for example, that listening to podcasts can assist you to speak English better. So by working on your English skills in other ways, you’ll enhance your overall English level and ultimately feel more comfortable speaking in English.
- Ignore the Perfection
Mistakes are a vital part of learning—the willingness to make errors is one of the superpowers of effective language learners. A common idea depicted in the article on this blog is that you should assume your errors. If you’re not making errors, you’re not developing.
Altering your mindset or your attitude is hard, but it might go a long way towards crushing your fear of talking in English.
If you learn to value the errors or mistakes you’re driving and see them as a part of your English learning journey, you might not be so afraid to make them in the first place.
- Create Ways to Get Calm
What if you’re already in the conversation and you’re feeling irritated totally? Practice relaxing is important. There are several useful skills you can practice and use to reduce stress.
Here are mentioned a few of them:
- Take a deep breath. Deeply breathing is a great way to ease the physical sensations that come with fear—the racing heart, the sweaty palms, etc.
- Employ positive self-talk. Remind yourself that you really can have a useful conversation in English and that it’s fine if you’re not perfect. Talk yourself up always.
- Inquire about your negative thoughts. You don’t have to accept everything you think. While you might worry that something you said was uncomfortable, you can challenge that thought and remind yourself that it probably wasn’t a big deal and everyone makes errors.
There is quite a bit of proof to show that our behavior can affect how we feel. One famous study in psychology allocated participants to two groups. In one, they were requested to hold a pencil between their teeth, causing them to smile. In the other, participants were requested to hold a pencil between their upper lip and their nose, causing them to wither. The researchers found that participants in the first group placed cartoons as funnier, indicating that smiling changed how they felt.
- Concentrate on One-to-one Conversations
Parties can be great, but group conversations can also be the harshest to participate in. Often they go fast, multiple people are speaking, often with background noise, and sometimes move on to another subject before we have time to jump in.
Instead of looking for chances to speak English in groups, prioritize one-on-one conversations. These are usually more comfortable and less stressful.
- Slow down
Having a conversation more slowly may make it more comfortable for you to partake easily and help reduce your fear.
One way to slow down the conversation is simply to request your partner to speak more slowly. This often works, although it can be a bit uneasy.
But there’s another way to maintain the pace of the conversation: adjust the pace of your speech. If you want the conversation to go a bit slower, slow down your speaking and rhythm. Your partner will inherently follow. Always think that it’s not a race.
- Just Keep Speaking
Clinical psychologists explain that one of the most effective methods for treating phobias and anxiety is called Exposure Therapy. It works by systematically telling people about their fear, little by little. Finally, patients feel less and less fear.
I’m not saying that you should seek psychological help for your fear of speaking English, nor am I saying that you should attempt to do psychotherapy on yourself.
The fact is that the more we do something, the less fear we have of it. So maybe my best advice to overcome the fear of speaking English is to speak it regularly as a routine. The more you speak in English, the more confident and relaxed speaking English will become for you.
Are you still uncertain if you can begin a conversation in English? Maybe you aren’t capable to begin a conversation in English because you do not live in an English-speaking country/area or don’t have anyone to speak English in your day-to-day. Now let’s sign up for ENTRI Learning App, the best platform to start speaking English with native English speakers regularly through the course “English Padikkyam with Inverted Coconut” guided by Aparna Mulberry. The tutors on ENTRI are great at initiating conversations in English because they are welcoming, helpful, and curious about their students. Through practice and observation (rewatching your lessons), you will acquire the experience and confidence needed to begin a conversation in English in a real-life setting.