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English Language Conversations for Beginners

February 4, 2021

English Language Conversations for Beginners

Although words may be limited and simple, it is still possible to enjoy conversations in English even if you are a beginner. I think that it’s essential to be able to express basic needs and to clearly express your identity. Let’s get started with the very basics and then we’ll build from there.

Greetings and Introductions:

When meeting new people you need to be able to greet them. If you are in an informal situation you might say, “Hey, I’m (name), nice to meet you.” In order to ask someone else’s name, you would say, “What’s your name?” You might expect to hear, “Hey, I’m (name).”  This is a very casual conversation that you might have when meeting a friend of a friend.

A more formal introduction is often required when applying for a job or signing up for an account at a bank. For children, a formal introduction should be used when meeting a teacher or to show respect for an adult. You might say, “Good morning/afternoon/evening, my name is (name). May I ask your name?” “My name is (name).” “It’s a pleasure to meet you, (their name).” 

I would like to list a few common questions and responses that you should prepare to be asked and be comfortable answering.  

  • Where are you from?  – “I am from (—).” If you have moved recently you may say, “I am from (—), but I’ve recently moved to (—.)
  • “Where do you work?” or “What do you do for a living?” – “I work at (name of company). I work on (your main task while on the job).”
  • “Which school do you attend?” or “Where do you go to school at?”   “I attend (name of school).”

Practice along with this helpful video lesson:

Personal Information:

You’ll most likely need to fill out paperwork and give information about yourself at some point. Here are things to memorize

Spell and pronounce your full name clearly. If you have a name that is unusual to the English speaker that you’re talking to then it’ll be essential for you to spell it clearly and to speak your phone number and your address in an understandable way. Please memorize an emergency contact’s name and phone number. This is done as a safeguard in case something unexpected comes up and you need help.

Small talk:

Let’s continue on with the conversation basics. Oftentimes, in the United States, you may be asked this question in passing. “How are you?” It’s not meant to be an in-depth question to really find out how you are. It’s common courtesy to ask this question as a sort of greeting. Your response should be brief. Please use the following sentences as examples and use a variety of them in your responses. “I’m doing well, thank you. How are you?” “Doing great, thanks.” A casual way that this is often asked is like this, “What’s up?” or “How’s it going?” Your response can be the same as when asked, “How are you?” 

Let’s give it a try now. You need to answer these aloud as if someone were asking you. Give it a try! Imagine that you are scheduling an appointment over the phone. “Good morning, my name is Chelsea. What’s your name?” Your answer, “——-.” “It’s nice to meet you. Would you mind spelling your name for me?” Your answer, “——.” “Thank you. What’s a good phone number for me to call you back at in case we get disconnected?” Your phone number, “—–.” “Lastly, I need your address.” “Clearly give your address.” 

Scenario #2: Going to see a movie with friends. Read the conversation and then practice being one of the people. 

“Hey! How’s it going?” “Fine, what’s new with you?” “I can’t wait to see this movie. Are you going to get popcorn or a drink?” “Yeah, I’ll get a combo deal.” “Where do you like to sit? Do you prefer sitting close to the screen or far away?” “I prefer to sit in the back where no one else is.” 

Scenario #3: Getting to know someone a little better.

“What do you like to do for fun?” “When I have time off from work I like to (activity).” Here are some options of activities that you could say in reply: play basketball, go fishing, go shopping, paint, play music, or dance. Then it’s kind to ask the question back to them. You can repeat it in the way they asked or you might simply say, “What about you?” If you share some interests in common then you something similar that you can both talk about. If there are no common interests then share what you know with each other and build up your vocabulary! Show interest and a willingness to try to communicate. 

Lastly, let’s cover ways to say goodbye. An informal way to say goodbye to say, “I’ll see you later!” You might say this to a friend. A more formal way to say goodbye would be like this, “Thank you for your assistance, take care.” This might be said to a doctor or a business person who assisted you with something. 

Final note:

In the United States and some other countries, it is appropriate to make eye contact when conversing. Don’t stare, but do make frequent eye contact because it shows respect and interest. Smile often, especially when it’s obvious that you’ve made a mistake. Show people that you are willing to learn and then you would appreciate the help.

Don’t expect conversations to go just as they are written in English textbooks. Oftentimes they do not and you’ll have to give your full attention to listening for keywords. It is fine for you to have a cheat sheet with you when you are learning. You will get used to the rhythm of spoken English and you will develop your favorite phrases in time and with practice. 

I wish you the best!

I'm a creative and engaging teacher of English, math, and science. I also write content for blogs! Seeing people make improvements and gain understanding and confidence in themselves gives me a lot of joy. I've been working closely with children for many years. My students and co-teachers describe me as both patient and creative. I try to always see each person as an individual and I create and use content based on their specific needs. I hope that you'll reach out to me soon.

Chelsea Nugent