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Meeting New People

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Thinking about going on a language holiday this year? Thinking about taking an English course in an English speaking country. Here are few tips to help you when...

Meeting New People

On you trip you will meet lots of new, interesting people from all over the world.

When meeting new people the first thing we need to do is break the ice, this means to start a conversation with someone for the first time when you are probably both feeling a little shy.

You should not give a potted history of yourself. For example,
"Hello, my name is Juan. I come from Barcelona in Spain. I'm 21 years old. I am a university student. I like tennis and swimming."

This is not a natural! Instead, try to give information about yourself and then ask a question.

This is much more natural:

Juan: 'I'm from Barcelona.  How about you?'
Volcan: 'I'm from Istanbul.'
Juan: 'I've never been there, but I'd like to. What's it like?'
Volcan: 'It's a great place. There's loads to see and do. So do you like travelling, then?'

In the above conversation we can see follow up questions. These are questions we use as secondary questions. The first question is 'How about you?' The follow-up question is 'What's it like.' These follow-up questions are very important when meeting new people - they keep the conversation moving.

The first time you meet someone, try to limit your first conversations to small talk until you know the person better. Small talk is the light, informal conversation which we getting to know someone. Small talk topics are usually on 'safe' subjects like interests or weather.

Say it right…Questions to ask new people.

  • 'What is your job?' is a correct question, but not natural. Instead ask, 'What do you do?'  This is has the same meaning and is used more by English speakers.
  • 'Do you like sport?', again, this is grammatically correct, but in casual English we can use 'into' instead of 'like'. The question then becomes, ‘What kind of sport are you into?’ The answer can be 'I'm into football' or 'I'm not into football'.
  • A common mistake is, 'How many families do you have?' This is not good English. The question we should ask is 'How many people are in your family?'

Let's put all of this together and make a list of possible small talk questions.

Hi, nice to meet you. What's your name?
Where are from?
What do you do?
Are you into sport? / What kind of sport/movies/music are you into?
How many people are in your family? / Do you have a big family?

To other students…
When did you arrive? / How long have you been here? / When are you leaving?
Why are you learning English?
Why did you choose this school/city/country/?
Where are you staying? What’s it like?

Being a good listener

When we meet a new person, we should make eye contact, smile, and above all, make listening sounds and words like 'uh-huh', ' yeah? ', 'really?' Try not to avoid fidgeting (moving around too much when you are talking). It will make you look like you're not interested!

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