Saturday, January 28, 2017

Conversation Starters: How to Get a Natural Conversation Going

Starting a natural conversation with a stranger often isn't as easy as it appears, and language learners can sound somewhat unusual and strange if the don't make the right approach.

So, imagine that you are sitting on a plane, and a man or woman is sitting next to you. You anticipate a long, 9-hour flight, and besides a few books, you don't have much to do.

What is one question that you might use to start a natural conversation with the person next to you, AND what is one question you would probably NOT ask for the same situation?

Please share your ideas. Carrying on small talk with others is an art that must be learned, and it usually isn't taught in textbooks.

Check out my listening activity on this topic at:




  1. I would rather talk with a person who sits next to me than keep silent and read books which I can read in other time.
    The way to start conversations is important.
    I will ask him if he thinks this flight will be safe.Then he will say he thinks so.And I'll say I doubt this flight will be safe ,because I am on board.Then he will laugh at my joke or,will not understand ,scowl,or suspect I am a terrorist.If he regards me as a terrorist,I will have to tell him my joke.

    1. I am writing to find out whether my students can post without creating online IDs that would identify them.

    2. me : excuse, I'm sorry.. do you know how to operate this screen?
      when the stranger do an act so i can continue to the next talk,
      me : thank you for your kind.. i think watching movie will help me to kill the time, and then when the stranger look interesting i will continue with general topic until he/she begin to other question that more spesific like phone number etc.

  2. First of all, I check the disposition of my partner if he/she wants to talk. I would ask about the weather a general question. It's cold/hot isn't?
    Ruth (Chile)

  3. I will start excuse me could you please tell me the time If you have watch. Then smoothly our conversation will start about climate,journey etc.

    lastly, we can exchange some addresses and e-mails for future contacts. I think it is natural that human can understand each other whatsoever language barrier is there even sign language we can talk each other.


  4. Hi Randall and everyone,

    I don't think I always make the right approach to strike up a conversation, hehe but sometimes even a bad start may turn into a pleasant conversation if you have the right conversational skills.
    To make small talk I usually pay attention to what the person sitting next to me is doing so that I can use this piece of information in my attempt to engage in a conversation.
    I would never ask personal questions such as: 1. Are you a religious person? or 2. Are you married?
    What do you guys think?

  5. well, first of all. I would rather ask about your trip, this a good way to start a conversation oh important talk about yorselve because the strage person can be relax begin talk abut himselve antehe we can talk about what ever or something special
    if with luck we can exchange: emails, phone number. and after trip we will keep touch in when you an he come back.


  6. To initiate a conversation with a stranger next to you is a real challenge. In my opinion, talking about the trip, the scenic spots or the food served during the flight may be a good opening. Pay attention to his response. Maybe he doesn't want to talk to much.

  7. All you need to have is the confidence for you to be able to talk and open up a conversation with another person.

  8. Here are five questions that would be appropriate for this situation.

    Where is your home?
    Where did you grow-up
    Where did you go on vacation as a child?
    Where is the farthest you have traveled from your home?
    What travel tips have you picked up over you travels?

  9. I am always ashamed of conversation people, but if the period is long and I do not know what to do .. I'll be forced to speak to my partner, but the beginning of the conversation a little difficult but always erase this difficulty some cunning or courage. So I'll start by asking either for an hour and the time that we will reach it and told him that I was tired Does it? Or ask him if either tourists or going for treatment, etc.

  10. I think the friendship is very important, but there are a lot of distracted people. They are absorbed in their problems and it is sometimes difficult...

  11. I`d ask about simple questions, being polite.For example his/her occupation, age...Then I`d talk more about other topics.

  12. Hi everyone
    Starting a conversation is easier talking about the weather, and introducing yourself.I believe, it's a friendly way to cach up with any person.

    John from Peru

  13. I am Isen. I think it depends on the situation. In general, I believe, in my country, there existed a event on the way we go for help us getting a natural conversation.

  14. hi every one

    starting conversation with person at first time depend from who you meet,
    young women old man

  15. It's always a good idea to find something in common with the other person if you want to strike up a conversation. For example, if you are in a park walking your dog, you can walk up to somebody and say something nice or ask a question about the other's dog. On this situation where you're on a plane, you could find something in common. Maybe the other person is ready to read a book. You can start the conversation asking What kind of book do you have there? and then What is it about?. In order to keep the conversation going you might talk about the books you have or like. Of course, you have to ask What's your name? and Where are you from? Finally if the conversation is going well you could ask What is the porpouse of your trip? The other person, maybe, is on vacation and he wants to relax. You can talk about your trip too.
    Something I'd never ask are questions about religion or politics. It could create a strange enviroment.

  16. hi every one
    It is a good idea to practice a small-talk, because practicing and we improve our english.

  17. We really like to start a conversation with not knowing person, but you have to be carefull about the topics that you are going to talk becouse sharing personal infimation can be dangerous.

    But some times its cool to talk with other people becouse you learn about differents things and topic´s, it is good when you share and learn cultural information.

    Ricardo Escobar And Adriana Valencia (El Salvador).

  18. in my opinion l think l'll see hi how are you .then l'll interduos my self then we can talk each other for many topic such as goal for her visit to usa or ask her about her family also we can talk about the weather at the moment or the hobies

  19. First i will check her condition, if she want to talk or wont. And if she seems like want to talking, i will introduce myself and tell her my destination. And of course i will asking her name and where is she going and some question about her trip so she can asking me too!
    I never ask about her religion and her contact.

    ps: im sorry my english is really bad. im syafvinna

  20. This lessons are very useful for practics of conversation between people stadyeeng English.

  21. Hello
    In times we know that it is very difficult to start a conversation, and more when it is with strangers, but it is very important to initiate them so that we can learn from what the other person or from their own experiences. From my point of view should start a conversation with phrases like:
    Hello what's your name
    What is your destiny of old
    To which places you traveled or as I already committed a person simply ask the time to start the conversatio

  22. well for me is difficult start a conversation with strangers but I will ask if she/he travel to much and then we could have a nice conversation.

  23. At first point to start a convesation with a stranger is difficult, however would start by asking the time or if you carry a book in your hands would ask some recommendation from him. Also in good idea to ask for the place of destination and its beautiful places.
    The questions that would not be asked would be; are you in a relationship in this mood? or personal things that make the companion feel unconfortable

  24. First of all, we'd better notice what they are doing? Then striking up by saying something related to the topic that we've found out. If they look easy of approach, keep going and try to find similarities between u and them to make the conversation become closer. Lastly, asking about email, fb account, address if u can. Just to keep in touch.

  25. First, I could introduce me, and say: hello my name is ……, what is your name? then if the person answer me, I could tell him or her: nice to meet you, I’m from…… and continue the conversation, I think that this can be a good form.

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  27. To start a conversation and break the ice that is important would make a little joke of the time that we are going to be on the plane, so you can see the attitude of the other person and know if the conversation can follow

  28. To start a conversation and break the ice that is important would make a little joke of the time that we are going to be on the plane, so you can see the attitude of the other person and know if the conversation can follow

  29. is the buss alredy coming?
    is your dog a pug?
    are you in this class?
    at what time are we going to land?
    can you pass me the syrup?
    what do yo do?

  30. I would ask...
    Do you like fly?
    and this moment, i know if i can talk whit that person.
    if she talk to me, i introduce me and start asking about her.

  31. I Usually like to talk to people around me, so the first question I would ask is: Do you like this kind of weather?
    the question I wouldn't ask is: Are you married? I don't think it would be none of my business

  32. i think that the phone conversations are important for everything like speak with the family,and friends and even for business.

  33. I'm afraid to talk to strangers,why

  34. Hi Everyone
    My name's khan i'm from vietnamese . I'm niceteen years old .
    Best Regards

  35. I think that I can start a conversation with a stranger person question simple things and introducing me a little for gets trust of the other person.

  36. i strat with greetings, say my name and then ask what wiil she/he doing at destination place. holiday? meet the family? or business affairs?

  37. I will know about myself and ask about himself after that talk about general events.....etc

  38. Hello guys, I think that I would pay attention to the the random events and talks and take advantage to start a conversation about it... Maybe, I can't wait to arrive... It will be a long trip... And I wouldn't ask about her/his relationships.

  39. I will ask her about her flight and I will not ask her about her private life.
    Kinds regards

  40. I think that is obvious that you can't learn how to act natural in a book, even having a class of "being natural" could be freak 'cause being natural or acting natural is part of you. If everybody act like others nobody could be unique and then you will not have the gift of just being you. Even with rare people, even when other persons think that they are not conected, they are them own natural.

  41. I though that the importan thing about the conversation is being polite and listen carefully what the other person says.

  42. Having small talk with other people is very interesting! It'll give you the chance to learn new things. However, we should take somethings consideration.
    Firstly, it's a great way to find something in commmon. You can talk about hobbies so you can share it eachother, which help the conversation is getting well.
    Secondly, avoiding any private topics is also a major factor to have a positive conversation such as religion, political, marriage..
    And finally, it's important to remember the cultural. People are around the world, so the way they behave is quite difficult. So to avoid the misunderstanding, you should observe and be cariful.

  43. probably, I'll ask about the flight or home state.

  44. Hi
    First of all, I will see if he/she is suitable to talk or not? Then I will strike up a conversation with Hello, my name is...May I know your name? After that we can talk about destination and travelling, weather,...I will not ask he/she about married status, religion.

  45. Hello Everyone
    I will begin the conversation with "Hello where are you from?
    and then I will ask something I want to know about his hometown.
    In this situation I will ask him like Do you want coffee?
    What time when the plan landing?

  46. For the first situation that Randall proposed I think that the best question you can say is a question that will brake the ice between me and the person that I will talk.You can say something fun but you cannot embarrass the person, I will give an example:' Hello, I do not like to fly, do you? '.Then, you can continue it normally, asking the name of the person and other basics personal information.
    And, a thing that I do not like to say at the beginning of the conversation is an especific personal question, because it looks very strange, people can think that you are trying to do something, for example:'Why are you flying for this city?'.

  47. Hi!
    My be I will ask about:
    1. How often she using airplane and why?
    2. The goal of her trip?
    3. Where are she from?
    4. What does she do?
    5. Etc

  48. Hi!
    I will start the conversation with the introduction of myself.
    Here is so boring. Let me entertain you.
    My name is Igor. What's your name?...
    Where are you from? ... I'm from...
    I am an engineer. I work for.. And you?
    And so on

  49. It's difficult to start a conversation with a stranger, but I think the best way is introducing me something like:
    -Hi,I'm ___,what about you?
    To keep the conversation we could ask something about the flight o the trip.

    What I wouldn't ask is something personal, like:
    - Are you in a relationship?

  50. It's hard to start a conversation with a stranger, but I think the best way to do it is introducing me, something like:
    -Hi, my name is ___,what about you?
    The continue the conversation I could ask something about the flight or the trip.
    What I wouldn't ask:
    -Are you in a relationship?

  51. I would take a book and ask the person if she or he have ever read it. After talking about the book I would ask stuff about school and lifestyle... I am not a good one making friends, then that's it.

  52. I would take a look at on person behavior before I ask him/her for something, it could give me a clue about preferences or thinkings of this person to ask for something; and definitely, I would not ask for flight scare or safety, because it could be not so good and generate an opposite reaction to strike a conversation up.

  53. I would take a look at on person behavior before I ask him/her for something, it could give me a clue about preferences or thinkings of this person to ask for something; and definitely, I would not ask for flight scare or safety, because it could be not so good and generate an opposite reaction to strike a conversation up.

  54. it will be a difficult thing to talk with someone you don't know , it will be simple question like what will the plane arrive to her destination if i feel this person interact with me i will talk with him

  55. If you want to talk with someone who is near you or a friend, don't ask him question like "How much money do you have" or "How is your family doing" because it will create a bad atmosphere between you and the friend. Also, be polite to them by shaking hands or just say Hello.

  56. Hello everyone
    My name is Vivian I am in ESL, because I need to learn English, I am doing the best I can to start talking and understand others and the best way I have to start talking with others is helping them in whatever way I can, thank you very much.

  57. Hello everyone
    My name is Vivian I am in ESL, because I need to learn English, I am doing the best I can to start talking and understand others and the best way I have to start talking with others is helping them in whatever way I can, thank you very much.

  58. Hi everyone. In my opinion, I think I'll say "Hello, how are you?". And if she seems like want to talk, I will introduce myself and talk about the trip. And of course, I will ask her name, job, country and so on. Finally, I think We should not ask personal question. For example, How old are you? Are you a religious person? Are you married?...

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  61. In the first place I think I would sleep. haha.
    I like sleep in the flight.
    In the case conversation with de other people I would ask about the motive of the trip.
    I never would ask about age of the people.I think the age not is a topic important in the moment meeting people.


Thanks for posting a comment. I appreciate your interesting in sharing your ideas.