Do you want to speak in English but you don’t know how to get started? You’ve made the connections, but it can be difficult to actually start the conversation.

Making what is called “small talk” is an excellent way to improve your English because it gets you used to everyday conservations in an informal way. Many of these conversations are very similar, so repeating them over and over again will make you start to sound like a very natural speaker.

Here are the most common English conversation starters for any and all levels:

“It’s ________ today.” Fill the blank with the weather. This one is probably the most obvious, but that doesn’t mean it’s silly! It’s a great way to open the door to further conversation.

Asking about immediate future plans. “What are you up to today?” “Any big plans for the weekend?” Using these questions when asked in a casual way won’t seem like you are trying to hang out, though if the opportunity comes then that’s great!

“I really like your _______.” Compliments are never a bad thing. If you need a follow-up question to keep the conversation going you could ask where they got it. For example, “I really like your earrings. Where did you buy them?”

“How are you today?” or “How’s it going?” + “__________________.” One of the first things English learners learn is the question “how are you”. This is a standard greeting. For our purposes, it’s just a way to get things started. You have to have something else to add afterwards. Be prepared! For example, either of the above can be followed by any of the other conversation starters listed here.

Even if it is awkward for you at first, like with all things English, the more you practice the better you will be. Get out there are start talking!

About the Author

Yvette Smith has been an educator for the past six years. Her speciality is ESL and has taught students of all ages in China, Mexico, and Vietnam.

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