This is how you small-talk

September 18, 2017

Do you know what is the most important language to learn? The language of small-talk, of course!

It is smart to start chatting with other people soon after learning the basics of a new language. That way you meet interesting people, strengthen your vocabulary and hear how the natives speakers actually sound. If the skill of chit-chatting is not one of your strengths, take these tips, and shine as a master of small-talk.

Ask interesting questions

People are often happy to share about their own lives. That is why you could start a chat with asking couple of easy questions, like ’How was your day?’ or ’What weekend plans do you have?’ There are differences in the conversation styles between different cultures. The Americans chat a lot, but stick usually with fairly smooth topics. By contrast, in France it is fairly common to chat even about politics, whereas the Brits seem always interested in weather. Especially when in an international environment, it is smart to sense the mood for what is a smart topic to talk about.

Find a common topic

When you find something in common between you and your conversation partner, the chat will start to run freely. Probably it would be a smart idea to practise small-talk in situations when you already have something in common with other people. In a running club you can discuss about jogged miles, whilst local beaches would be of great interest in an Australian hostel, and networking event for coders is a place for tech talk. So to sum up, try to get yourself where you can meet people alike.

Classic compliment always works

For example, in a party it easily happens that you end up chatting with someone you now next to nothing about. Then, a little compliment is often a good way to start a conversation; people are rarely offended when hearing nice things about themselves. It may be smart though to comment only details like colourful socks, so that your flattery won’t be taken as flirting.

Take a wild card

Did you see the article about a giant lobster in Canada? Where would you like to travel just now? Did you know that there are over 7000 pubs in London? If the conversation gets stuck and you feel daring, you could try something surprising. The people who meet a lot of new acquaintances, often hear the same questions about where are they from, which part of the city they live or what do they do for living. The repeating questions may eventually get tiring, so the interesting topics may give you a reputation as an interesting person.

If you have been successful in getting to know even a bit of a new language, start also to chat with the language. So go out, tap the shoulder of an interesting person and dive into the chat – whatever language you happen to be speaking!


This blog post is written by Johanna from EF Education First. EF offers language courses and international experience for everyone around the world. With EF you can study 9 languages in over 40 different destinations – the courses suit for all ages and levels.


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