Do you feel unsure of how to start speaking with people in English? Have you ever been to a work event, business meeting, dinner party or another social event where everyone is speaking English and you didn’t know how to begin? Do you want to practice your English and be friendly with the person next to you on the bus or train but you are not sure what to say first? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then continue reading, I’d love to help you I also invite you to come and PRACTICE conversation with me for 9 to 16 days of full intensive immersion for the fastest and most effective way to improve your English.
This may be obvious, but one of the best ways to start a conversation is to simply introduce yourself! You can say the basic, “Hi, I’m _________. What is your name?” But if you want to practice more advanced and natural English, you could say something like: “As we’re both here (on the train, at this event), I feel I should introduce myself. I’m _____(name) from _________ (company name or department title if you are a work event or country name if you are traveling).
Talk about where you are.
An easy thing to relate to (and perhaps easy language to listen to in the answer) is about where you are. If you on a train, say something like, “I love this part of town, it’s beautiful”. If you are at a business event, say something about the event location like, “I am impressed with this event location”.
Ask, “What’s your Story?”
This is a nice, open question in English. It is not a beginner way to ask a question, so the person might think your English is quite good for asking this question, and start speaking quickly, but you will usually get an interesting answer that will be good listening practice!
Compliment the person on something they are wearing or what they are doing.
This is a pleasant way to start a conversation. A compliment is something nice that you say to another person about them or something they have or are wearing. Examples include, “That is a beautiful pen” or “I love your earrings, they are beautiful.”
Ask how their day is going…
“How is your day going?” This is a very simple, but very effective conversation starter. It is friendly and a person might begin to tell you about their day. If they give you a short answer, like “good”, you can try to follow up with another question like, “What was the best part of your day so far?”
Ask or joke about what they are eating
If you are at a dinner party or a work event where there is food, food is always a good conversation start topic. You can say something like, “How is _____ (name of food)?” If you don’t know the word for the food, just say, “How’s the food?“. You could also joke and say something like, “So, on a scale of 1 to undrinkable, how is the beer?”
Ask about their job
The normal question for this is, “So, what do you do?” This is probably the most common conversation starter in English. The person will answer by saying, “I‘m a ____(name of job)” or “I _____(verb for job),”. For example, “I’m a teacher” or “I teach adults who want to improve their English and run amazing intensive immersion courses around the world“.
Ask about their life in general
Say something like, “So, what do you do for fun?” or “What do you do besides _____(verb for job)” For example, if someone asked me “What do you do besides teach adults on intensive immersion courses?“, I would tell them, “Well, aside from teaching intensive immersion courses, I also love to bike, garden, play guitar and sing!”
Ask for a suggestion
Another good way to start a conversation in English is to ask for a suggestion. Examples can include, “What would you recommend doing around here?” or “Have you seen any good movies or read any good books lately that you can recommend?“
Sometimes it is nice or fun to surprise people and start a conversation with a surprising and unusual fact or say something unexpected. For example, “I’m writing an article about interesting and boring conversation starters. Any good or bad ones you’ve heard lately?”