Do you ever find it difficult to start conversations with people you don't know? Well, how about starting a conversation in English??
I have been teaching English conversation classes and studying how people learn languages for many years and the best students in English conversation are not always the students at the highest academic level!
Many students expect the teacher to ask all the questions and start all the conversations. But of course, real life is not like this! In my experience some of the best speakers in English are lower level students who are simply good at asking questions.
Conversations with them "flow" more naturally. These students most definitely have good conversation skills in their first language. If you use some well-practiced questions when you meet people for the first time, you will sound interested in the other person and your conversation will "flow" better.
So here are my top ten questions to start conversations in English:
What do you do? (What's your job?)
What company/ Who do you work for?
How long have you been doing that? (studying, working, hobby etc)
Do you like it? (work, where they live)
Where are you from?
What did you think of the ......? (conference, meeting, show etc)
Do you like it here? (on holiday)
Are you married?
Do you have any children? How old are they?
It's lovely, isn't it? (weather)
Of course you don't want to sound like you are interrogating them (to ask questions of someone closely, aggressively or formally). So it is important just to use a couple of these questions to get the conversation started and then keep it going with a couple more.
Remember that having a conversation is not so much : "What am I going to tell you?" as "What are we going to talk about?".
Finally, don't forget that research shows that people are more likely to want to speak to you if you are smiling!
Good luck :-)
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