How To Keep A Conversation Going In English
It is often difficult to keep a conversation going in any language. During most of our daily interactions with people, we engage in small talk. Small talk is a short, polite conversation about casual topics such as how your family is, the weather, or current sports news. As language learners, these are the first type of conversations we learn because the questions are easy to form, and we can learn a little about another person.
A great way to begin a longer conversation is to ask questions about the person you are talking to. Everybody likes talking about their own experiences, opinions, and thoughts, so asking questions can allow a longer conversation. Maintaining a conversation in a new language is not easy, but with these tools you can gain confidence in knowing how to express yourself thoroughly.
Start a longer conversation
The best way to show that you want to start a longer conversation is to ask open-ended questions. Open-ended questions have to be answered with more than one word and allow the other person to talk longer.
What do you think about ____?
Have you heard about ____? (If they answer “Yes“:) What do you think?
What do you like about ___?
How have you liked living in ___?
Jane: “What are you doing this weekend?“
Max: “I don’t know yet. You?“
Jane: “I’m going to the museum. Have you heard about the new photography exhibit?“
Max: “Yes I have.“
Jane: “What do you think about photography?“
Max: “I think it can be a beautiful form of art, especially in blank and white. I like to practice photography myself in my spare time.“
Follow-up Questions and Comments:
Follow a prior question with another question or comment to continue the conversation.
What do you mean?
Why ___? (For example: Why did that happen? Why do you think so?)
How ___? ( For example: How did you like it? How was it?)
Interesting! Tell me more.
What happened next?
What did you like/not like about it?
Jane: “I went to the health conference yesterday and it was so surprising!“
Max: “What do you mean?“
Jane: “This year all of the current health recommendations have been changed. Everything is so different and dieticians don’t know what to do about it.“
Max: “Interesting! Tell me more.“
Jane: “Dieticians have been giving the same health advice for decades, but now they have to change their thinking.“
Phrases to show acknowledgement
Use these to show interest in what the other person is saying and to let the person know you are listening as he or she speaks.
That’s interesting / crazy / funny / weird.
I didn’t know that!
No way! 不是吧！
Oh, no! 不！
Right. (This means “I agree/acknowledge what you are saying“)
That sounds fun / cool / interesting.
Jane: “I was driving down the street when all of a sudden a deer ran in front of my car…“
Max: “Oh, no!“
Jane: “…But, luckily, I swerved in time to miss it.“
Max: “I went to the U2 concert yesterday…“
Jane: “No way!“
Max: “…and it was the best concert I have ever been to!“