English for Chatting
Are you a natural conversationalist who feels no fear of chatting in English? Or, are you like most of us - awkward, uneasy and not really sure of what to say next?
If you find that the cat's got your tongue the next time you're talking in English, try using these tips to keep the conversation going.
Respond to greetings
After the initial "Hey" or "Hello", there are two basic greeting styles in English: ones that start with "how" and others that begin with "what." Common examples are "How are you?", "How's it going?", "How've you been?" as well as "What's up?", "What's going on?" and "What've you been up to?"
For the "how" greetings, you'll want to respond with an adjective, such as "Good", "Great" or even "Exhausted!" On the other hand, for greetings starting with "what", a fitting response is "Nothing" or "Not much."
Then keep going...
One word answers, though, can hinder the conversation and lead to that dreaded awkward silence. So after your "Great" or "Not much", you need to keep going and provide more information about what is happening in your life. It could be about what you're doing at the moment: "Not much. I'm just out shopping for my sister's birthday gift."
Or, it could be about a recent event in your life: "Great! I've just started a new job, and I love it!" Providing more information can give the person you're talking with something to respond to, and this is true at any point in the conversation.
Follow-up and initiate
After someone comments on what they've been doing, good conversationalists will then follow-up and initiate more conversation. For example, if your friend just said he started a new job, you can follow up with "Oh, really?", and then initiate by asking him a question about it: "So what company are you working for?" With each response, listen carefully, share your thoughts and keep asking more open-ended questions, or questions that require a long response, not just a one-word answer.
Follow this example
Two co-workers chat with each other as they leave their office building:
Tracy: Hey Lily! How's it going? (greet)
Lily: Good. Just headed to meet my husband at the movies. (respond)
Tracy: Oh really? (follow-up) What are you going to see? (initiate)
Lily: Hopefully Lord of the Rings, if it's not sold out. (respond)
Tracy: Oh yeah, the theater can get really busy on Friday night. Good luck! (follow-up)
Lily: Tell me about it! See you Monday. (respond)