Hello and welcome to Natural English at Work.
I will be using this blog to bring to life my approach in helping non native English speakers to improve their English.
Please do contact me if you have any comments or questions.
Nicola

Three Tips on the Art of Small Talk

At this time of year you can often find yourself at lots of social events, mingling with people you don't know well . It can be stressful enough even when the language in the room is your own, but, even more so, if you find yourself speaking English throughout the event. Here are three tips to help you relax and enjoy yourself.

1 Think ahead. Before you get to the event, spend a quiet 5 minutes thinking about who you are likely to be talking to and what you already know about them –for example is (s)he a keen skier, cinema goer or regular exhibition visitor ? For those you haven’t met before, scanning the latest reviews of ‘what’s on’ locally can be a good conversation starting point.

2 Use questions wisely. Start with simple questions – for example where are you from? You may well get a one word answer so follow up with more open questions such as ‘what is (hometown) like ?’ There are a whole range of question words to keep the conversation going- where, how, what if ....but beware of using ‘why ?’ questions – they can sometimes appear intrusive in these situations.

3 Make a stylish exit. It can be difficult to do this without feeling, and therefore looking, awkward. Try using a phrase starting ‘I need to...’ for example ‘refresh my drink’, ‘get some food’, ‘introduce myself to a client’. It is a good idea to refer to something in your conversation to show you are not escaping because you are bored so for example ‘I enjoyed talking to you about your volunteer work and look forward to hearing how it’s going next time we meet.’

Enjoy the festivities ; Santé!