Thursday, January 28, 2010

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:

- http://esl-lab.com/eslbasic/conversation-starters-1.htm

Randall

17 comments:

kann-u said...

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.

rubor said...

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)

Ahmed said...

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.

Thanks
Hssn

Bruno da Matta said...

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?
Best,
Bruno
Brazil

Jose David said...

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.


joochem
(colombia)

BB said...

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.

Good Conversation Starters said...

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

Skeeter said...

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?

http://www.gettoknowu.com/Top_Questions.php

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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...

Anonymous said...

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

john said...

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

Anonymous said...

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.

farouk said...

hi every one

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

Luciano Olivos said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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

Ricardo González said...

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).

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