In this post I’m going to share with you my favorite tips for entering conversations with confidence. I receive lots of e-mails and comments from learners talking about how they avoid conversations or when they’re in conversations they often use only very simple language and this is again something that you have to develop even watching videos like this i can share tons of great information about how to learn as well as lots of great word to use.
But you have to practice. You actually have to go out and use it because fluency is a skill you develop its not knowledge that you gained over time. so you have to develop the skill you have to use it and practice it the same way that you maybe develop muscle in the gym or improve as an athlete or someone is playing an instrument. But what i can do is help you get more excited to join conversations and try to actually speak more so that you develop that speaking confidence in conversations.
I know I want you to have a much more exciting time when you’re thinking about speaking English as opposed to feeling shy. Because again i know a lot of people do so let’s get started. The first thing to understand is that native English speakers are talking about the same things you were talking about in your native language. People talk about your family or their job or their talking about the weather or sports or anything else but it’s all typically the same kinds of things and if you remember that you know native speakers aren’t talking about like rocket science maybe some people are but not unjust again in everyday conversation sense.
People are talking about everyday things and so if you remember that in a conversation if you learn a little bit about maybe a couple of different things you can talk about family or work or something knowing how to explain a few things like this about your own life will really help you just improved conversations in general. Because you can say maybe a few things or you can answer at least a few questions people ask about a few different topics. And again people will maybe as a maybe recognizing that you are not a native speaker they will understand that quite quickly in the conversation and they will maybe try not to speak too quickly maybe some people will but in general if they recognize that you’re not a native speaker though maybe just try to keep things a little bit more basic. But you can also say that maybe in a conversation if people are maybe talking a bit too quickly you could say all like my my english isn’t the best could you slow down a little bit. “My english isn’t the best” so this is a native way of explaining please help me a little bit. So when you’re in a conversation really the first thing you should do is have kind of a few things prepared just maybe a few things about the weather or your life in general.
Often people know how to introduce themselves quite well but they should really practice a few other things like what do you do and then from there being able to understand maybe some questions that you can ask other people. So we’ll talk a little bit about questions in a second but again this main idea of understanding that native speakers are talking about the same kinds of things you do in everyday conversation. So when you get into a conversation it’s better to keep your mind open to the broader topic of the conversation even if you don’t understand a few individual Word. So if you can follow the broader topic then it’s easier to maybe come back with a particular question or understand what people are asking you. Now when people do ask you things or they’re speaking with you and about something that maybe you don’t understand you can say to them oh I’m i’m sorry i’m not so familiar or I’m not very familiar with that topic could you tell me more about that thing. So this is an opportunity for you to get more information or to actually learn something. A lot of people are scared about getting into conversations because they don’t want to show that they don’t know something but if you can be the kind of person that does get into the conversation and you’re willing to show that well maybe I’m not perfect and i have an opportunity to learn something it’s the same thing if as a native speaker. Maybe you get into a conversation with someone that’s an expert in economics or science or something and they are explaining something to you.
It’s probably at a much higher level than you understand but in that situation you recognize that opportunity to learn something. So if i go meet someone that’s a like a science professor and he’s explaining to me things about you know rockets or space travel or anything else like that i can say oh how does that actually work I don’t quite understand how it works so i’m not familiar with that could you explain more I’m not familiar with that could you explain more. Next as you understand the whole picture of the conversation and maybe you’re asking a few questions I want you to take this idea of course shouldn’t even further and have a few questions prepared for people to control the conversation. Now one of the things that people worry about they get nervous and conversations because made of speakers begin talking and they’re speaking really quickly about a bunch of different topics and then as a listener you get lost. So if you can stop that and you can control native speakers you can stop them from moving too quickly.
You can continue to ask questions and you can focus on what you’re interested in. Now this works really well because most people just want to talk about themselves. They want to actually have a conversation or other people are listening to them and enjoying their ideas. So let them speak now this is your opportunity to learn a whole bunch at the same time but the more interested you can be in what other people are saying the more interesting you will become. So when they’re speaking and you don’t quite understand something use those opportunities to say oh that’s really interesting could you tell me more tell me more about that or how did you get into that line of work. So how did you get into that line of work how are you starting matter what your history in something like that. So people are always happy to have people ask questions about themselves because it gives them an opportunity to speak. Now when you do this again it controls the conversation and you can decide well we’re going to talk about this. I want to learn a bit more specific vocabulary about this thing but it also again gives you time to think. When we’re talking about a conversational situation and you want to make sure that they’re not running away, control the conversation with your question.
The final piece of advice i’ll give you is to use analogies or the kind of language that you know even if you don’t know how to express something exactly the way you want too. Often as a non-native speaker you know the vocabulary for some of the things you want to say but maybe you don’t quite know how to express something else. But in those cases it’s better to talk around that thing or two try to explain it using other language that you already know. This is exactly why phrasal verbs are so important. When I teach phrasal verbs to my personal students are in programs like the visual guide to phrasal verbs I’m trying to help people build vocabulary by taking lots of words that they already know like basic verbs like to go or to get or to stand and then repairing these things with prepositions like up or down or over and so we can mix and match them to explain things in different ways. If you can’t quite Express something or you don’t know the actual term for that thing just use the language you know. When you get into conversations with people actually be looking forward to the opportunities that you’ll get to learn something to look at every conversation is a chance to practice and improve but also to learn something as well.
February 4, 2017