Small Talk for ESL Students


To develop and practice your English skills, you need to talk as much as you can, preferably with native speakers of English, so you could get a feel of the English speech flow. For those of you who have American roommates, friends or coworkers, it should be pretty easy. However, for most of you finding conversational partners other than your classmates and professors might be a bit challenging, even in a city as big as New York. Yet you don’t need to know someone to start a conversation; you can talk to cashiers at the supermarket, sales assistants at department stores, people you meet at a party, or commuters on a train. The good news is that you don’t need to engage into long discussions which might be hard for you to maintain at this point; all you need to do is to master the art of small talk. Small talk is actually a big part of American culture and the ability to start a light yet interesting conversation is valued very highly. Here are some topics that you should definitely consider discussing:


It does not matter if it’s raining cats and dogs or it’s the hottest day of the year; you can talk about how much you like or hate it, whether it makes you miserable or  happy, and of course, how it’s different from your home country.


It’s always interesting to learn what other people like to do in their spare time, so don’t be shy, go ahead and tell a person you met at a party about your lifelong passion for writing poetry, painting, or running 5 miles every day. If they happen to share your enthusiasm, you might have just made a new friend.


Talk about new releases, hottest bands or latest scandals in the world of show business, which there are plenty of. Remember, though, that we all have different tastes and preferences, so don’t be too quick judging Justin Bieber’s haircut, Blake Lively’s acting chops, or Snooki’s drinking habit. A shouting match or, worse, a fistfight with a die-hard fan of any of the above is never a good idea.

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