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  • Hi Mikey!

  • Hi Stephanie!

  • Well, this is awkward!

  • Yeah, it is a bit.

  • We've got nothing to talk about!

  • That's right!

  • I just have no idea what to say to you.

  • I've got an idea.

  • Oh, what's that?

  • Let's do a lesson about how to have a conversation in English.

  • Great idea!

  • Looks like we really need it.

  • Shall we start now?

  • Yeah, why not?

  • Hi, I'm Stephanie.

  • Welcome to Oxford Online English!

  • Do you find it difficult to start conversations in English?

  • Do you feel that you don't know what to say?

  • It's common.

  • Speaking a foreign language is hard work.

  • You have to remember foreign words, pronounce sounds which your mouth isn't used to, and

  • now you have to build a conversation, too.

  • In this lesson, you'll see some simple, effective tips to help you start, develop

  • and end a conversation in English.

  • Let's start at the very beginning.

  • You'll see three easy ways to start a conversation in English.

  • Hello!

  • My name's Mikey.

  • What's your name?

  • Stephanie, nice to meet you.

  • Where are you from, Stephanie?

  • So, what did you think of the film?

  • It wasinteresting.

  • Does that mean you didn't like it?

  • I'm glad I saw it, but I wouldn't watch it again.

  • Oh, hey, I saw some of your pictures from your trip.

  • They're amazing!

  • Thanks for saying so!

  • What kind of camera do you use?

  • Actually, I just use my phone.

  • First of all, if you don't know the other person, of course you should introduce yourself.

  • It can be awkward if you start talking and then you realise an hour later that you don't

  • know the other person's name.

  • You saw three ways to start a conversation.

  • What were they?

  • One: ask a simple question:

  • What's your name?

  • Where are you from?

  • What do you do?

  • Two: make a comment or ask a question about the situation you're in:

  • That looks delicious!

  • What is it?

  • What did you think of the film?

  • It's so cold in here!

  • Is the heating broken?

  • Great party, right?

  • Who do you know here?

  • Three: compliment the other person:

  • I love your top!

  • Where did you get it?

  • I thought your presentation was really interesting.

  • Oh, you're Mikey?

  • I've heard so many good things about you.

  • Don't think too much about what you say first.

  • When you start a conversation, it's more important to say something, even if it's

  • something very simple.

  • Easy, right?

  • Introduce yourself, say something simple, and you've started a conversation.

  • Next, you need to build the conversation.

  • Where do you go from here?

  • Hey, you're Stephanie, right?

  • Yeah.

  • Mikey?

  • That's right!

  • Peter told me you're in a band?

  • Well, kind of.

  • I play guitar, and we just play together for fun.

  • It's nothing serious.

  • I play the guitar too, actually.

  • Really?

  • What kind of thing do you play?

  • Actually, I play classical guitar.

  • I just do it as a hobby; I'm not that good, but I enjoy it.

  • That's the important thing.

  • Anyway, how do you know Peter?

  • We used to work together, and we stayed in touch.

  • Here, you saw three useful things you can do to build a conversation in English.

  • Do you know what they were?

  • They're all very simple.

  • Anyone can use them!

  • First idea: make a reference to something you have in common.

  • For example, do you know that the other person is a football fan?

  • Ask:

  • Who do you support?

  • Or: Did you see the City game on Sunday?

  • Or: What's your prediction for the cup final next weekend?

  • If you meet someone while you're travelling, you could ask:

  • Where are you going to next?

  • You went to Rome?

  • Any recommendations?

  • Do you know any good places to eat around here?

  • We said that you saw three ways to continue a conversation.

  • What's the second one?

  • Ask the other person about themselves and their life.

  • People generally like to talk about themselves, and they like it when other people are interested

  • in them, so this can be very effective.

  • For example:

  • Your job sounds really difficult.

  • How do you manage everything?

  • I like your pictures.

  • Is that in India?

  • I heard you're really into cooking.

  • What kind of stuff do you like to make?

  • Finally, you can also continue the conversation by referring to someone you both know, like

  • this:

  • How do you know Lisa?

  • Have you known Simon long?

  • You work with Lee?

  • I heard he can be quite difficult.

  • Again, it's more important to say something, even if it's something very basic.

  • When you've just started talking to someone, anything is better than saying nothing.

  • The longer you can keep the conversation going, the more you'll learn about each other,

  • and the more topics you'll have to explore.

  • Let's look at some other important points to think about as your conversation continues.

  • Mikey, hi!

  • How was your trip?

  • It was great, thanks.

  • Where did you go?

  • Well, we started in Madrid, and then

  • Where did you stay?

  • We found a really great homestay near the centre, and

  • Did you eat tapas?

  • Well, yeah, a couple of times, but

  • Did you go to the Royal Palace?

  • No, actually, we

  • Why not?

  • Yeah, so as I was saying, it's basically the best film ever.

  • Mm-hmm.

  • I mean, people don't rate Michael Bay, but I really think the man's a genius, you know?

  • Mm-hmm.

  • I've seen it twice at the cinema already.

  • The last time I went it was so loud that I still couldn't hear properly the next morning.

  • Mm-hmm.

  • I'm still planning to see it again this weekend, though.

  • I love it!

  • Mm-hmm.

  • You saw two conversations.

  • I hope you realise that these were examples of what not to do when you want to build a

  • conversation.

  • What was the problem in each one?

  • In both conversations, there was a lack of balance.

  • In the first conversation, I was asking too many questions!

  • A conversation shouldn't sound like a police interrogation.

  • In the second conversation, I spoke too much, even though Stephanie clearly wasn't interested

  • in what I was talking about.

  • What's the point here?

  • For a successful conversation, you need balance.

  • You need to balance asking questions and saying what you think.

  • You need to balance speaking and listening.

  • Let's look at how those conversations could have gone better:

  • Mikey, hi!

  • How was your trip?

  • It was great, thanks.

  • Where did you go?

  • Well, we started in Madrid, and then we spent a few days in Andalucia.

  • Wow!

  • I loved Madrid.

  • What did you think of it?

  • We really liked it.

  • When we were there, we stayed at this really cool guesthouse near the Parque de El Retiro.

  • Did you spend any time around there?

  • Actually, we were staying a bit further out.

  • We did walk past there, though.

  • There are some great places further out, too.

  • What did you think of the food?

  • Guess what I just saw?

  • What?

  • The new Transformers film!

  • It's amazing!

  • I really think Michael Bay is one of the best directors alive.

  • Are you serious?

  • What, you don't like his films?

  • No.

  • I think a good movie needs more than explosions and robots.

  • That's a shame.

  • I was hoping you'd come to the cinema with me to watch it.

  • I thought you'd already seen it?

  • Yeah, twice!

  • The last time, the sound system was so loud that I couldn't hear properly the next morning.

  • It was great!

  • That doesn't sound healthy.

  • Maybe you should go to the doctor's, and you definitely shouldn't go to see it again.

  • Balancing your conversations helps you to keep the other person engaged, which means

  • the conversation will flow easily and naturally.

  • Anyway, let's talk about something else.

  • Sometimes, people complain to us about making conversation in English: “I don't know

  • what to talk about!”

  • Here's the thing: you can talk about almost anything you want.

  • Sometimes, the other person isn't interested in what you're saying.

  • Sometimes, you're not interested in what the other person's saying.

  • Sometimes, neither of you is interested in what you're talking about.

  • This is totally natural.

  • So, what should you do?

  • Change the topic, of course!

  • Seen any good TV shows recently?

  • Actually, I don't have a TV.

  • Oh

  • So, er, what are you doing this weekend?

  • Do you like travelling?

  • Not really.

  • When I don't have to work, I just stay at home.

  • Anyway, whereabouts do you live?

  • Yeah, I've had this really bad cough for weeks.

  • All this green stuff keeps coming out of me.

  • I don't know when it's going to stop.

  • Mikey, I'm trying to eat!

  • Can we please talk about something else?

  • Oh, sorry.

  • Changing the subject is easy.

  • The easiest way is just tochange the subject!

  • If what you're talking about isn't going anywhere, ask a question or make a comment

  • about something different.

  • It's common to introduce a change of subject with a word like so or anyway.

  • For example:

  • So, what are you doing this weekend?

  • Anyway, whereabouts do you live?

  • If you're feeling uncomfortable with a conversation topic, you might clearly ask to change the

  • subject.

  • You can say something like:

  • Can we talk about something else?

  • Let's change the subject.

  • I don't really want to talk about that.

  • Remember that if you use phrases like these, you're clearly showing the other person

  • that you're uncomfortable with the conversation.

  • If you say something like this, make sure that you mean it.

  • Finally, let's see one of the most important skills for having good conversations in English:

  • so then I say to her, 'You must be joking!', and she's all like, 'No', and I'm

  • all like, 'That is so crazy!', and then

  • Adele, I hate to be rude, but I have to be somewhere else.

  • We'll talk later, okay?

  • Oh, okay.

  • See you later!

  • You're an events manager?

  • That's exactly what I want to get into!

  • I have so many questions.

  • So, what's the best way to get a job with your company?

  • Will you help me out?

  • Listen, it's been great talking to you, but I should get back to work.

  • Can I ask you my questions later?

  • I have SO MANY.

  • Sure, just call me.

  • But, I don't have your phone number!

  • Have you finished the debugging work?

  • It's nearly done.

  • Is there any chance you can ask someone to help me?