How To Have Great English Conversations

Before we get into this week’s lesson on how to have great English conversations, I have a short story!

Yesterday, I gave an online class about that had some technical issues (technical issues = problems with computer software).

I could have quit, but these students had given me their time because they wanted to learn from me.

So.. I followed the plan!

This relates to one of my favourite quotes by Og Mandino:

“I will persist until I succeed”

This means that you don’t stop until you reach your destination! And this is something that you can apply to your English learning.

Let me ask you a question:

How many times have you felt like giving up when you’re studying or learning English?

And how many times have you overcome something difficult?

One thing that many English learners fight to overcome is speaking in English to others.

And this is what yesterday’s online class was about.

One of the things that we talked about was preparing to have English conversations.

I said that this was one of my ‘secret top tips’. And it is! It’s so powerful that you can use it to build confidence and have great English conversations whenever!

First, I’ll tell you who would want to do this, and then I’ll tell you how you can use it!

Who Should Use This Strategy?

Frustrated English Conversations

Have you ever felt like this after speaking in English?

If you’re someone who has had bad experiences in the past when talking to people, you’ll like this strategy.

Here’s my story:

Back when I was learning Japanese, I really wanted to practice speaking to real native Japanese speakers. I was confident in my Japanese because I did well in class.

I did my homework, I answered questions, and I always did well in the speaking activities. So, I thought that I could do the same in a real life conversation.

I joined the Japanese society at my university and started speaking to native Japanese speakers…

Well, it didn’t go to plan:

  1. I couldn’t understand anyone!
  2. I couldn’t reply to questions!
  3. Everyone spoke too fast!

And basically, I lost my confidence.

One of my goals was to have a conversation in Japanese. I achieved that goal, by using authentic sources of language, talking to myself, and by creating a situation where I was confident.

If you want to learn how to create a situation where you feel confident, read on:

How To Create Confident Situations & Have Great English Conversations

Step 1: What do you want to talk about?

First you need to identify a topic – this can be anything. For this example, I’m going to pretend that I went to the zoo at the weekend.

Then you want to imagine all of the possible things that you could say. For example:

  • I had a great weekend.
  • I went to the zoo.
  • The zoo was really interesting.
  • The most interesting animals were the llamas and the wolves.
  • This is because they were the most active and it was feeding time.

Step 2: Predict the questions

So you’ve created the list of ideas that you want to say. Now, you need to think of how you can lead the other person to ask you about them.

For example:

  • If I want to say “I had a great weekend”, they need to ask me, “how was your weekend?”
  • If I want to say, “I went to the zoo”, they need to ask me, “what did you do?”
  • If I want to say, “the zoo was really interesting”, they need to ask me, “how was the zoo?”

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Do this for each of the statements you want to say.

Confidence English conversations

Feel Confident in your English conversations!

Step 3: Control the conversation

We have a list of questions and answers! We now need to think of how we can create the situation where our speaking partner can ASK these questions! Here’s how:

Me: Hey Emma, how was your weekend?

Emma: Hey Sam, it was good. How was yours?

Me: Mine was really great.

Emma: Oh really? How come? What did you do?

Me: I went to the zoo, and it was really interesting.

Emma: Oh really? How come?

This is just an example, but do you see how I led and controlled the conversation by just giving just enough information? In fact, by making a statement like “it was REALLY great”; you really make the other person want to ask you more (especially since you started the conversation)!

Tips:

  • Don’t say too much too soon
  • Let your partner ask you questions
  • Prepare by predicting the questions

By using this technique, you can create English conversations where you have already prepared your answers! This type of activity can increase your confidence AND help you to have successful English conversations.

What Now?

Try this strategy the next time that you speak with someone and let me know if it works!

Share this strategy with a friend who is learning English. They will be glad you did!

About the Author Sam

Sam is the founder and creator of English For Study. He's also a lecturer in EAP/Academic English. Apart from making Academic English easy, he likes learning languages, lifting weights and eating good food.

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