‘English Small Talk’ refers to polite conversations such as uncontroversial topics that people engage in during social settings. Small Talk topics are often relevant to everybody, easy to talk about, and will not extend the conversation for hours.
It is a type of conversation that people use when meeting someone else for the first time, for example, waiting in a room, meeting someone new at a party, or when introduced to a new face.
However, English may not be everybody’s first language, for somebody who converses in English occasionally, may find English small talk to be daunting and difficult. Moreover, when you do not use English day to day to communicate, you might have trouble coming up with suitable topics to talk about.
Hence we will explore some easy English small talks that you can keep at the back of your mind for when you need it.
Importance of English Small Talk
English small talk is important to build relationships and get to know others better. We often engage in small talk when we meet someone new. Hence, through these small talk conversations, we get to know the person more, the way they think, hold themselves, and the way they speak.
9 English small talks for social settings
1 – Occupation
Talking about work is one of the easy conversation starters as the vast majority of the people have something to say. You can follow the conversation with some of these questions:
- What skills do you use the most in your work?
- Did you study something related to this prior to this job?
- Were you in a different job previously?
- What is the stereotype of your job?
Different questions will give different answers, allowing you to prompt further questions as you go along.
2 – Travel and Holiday
Though not everybody you speak with is a world traveler and explorer, asking about one’s previous travel experiences, can open up a world of possibilities. Traveling questions can even the most reserved people to talk about their most cherished experiences, memories or exciting upcoming adventures they have planned.
It is of course important to follow up with relevant questions to keep the conversation going, such as asking where was their favorite place in the country, what food did they enjoy the most and even getting tips for traveling to some of the mentioned places.
3 – Family
Prior to asking about one’s family, it is important to ensure that family is not a sensitive topic for the person. Nevertheless, it can be a good starting point to know about one’s family to get to know them more on a personal level. You can start the conversation with some of these questions:
- How many siblings do you have?
- Do you have any family pets?
- What does your family do during the weekends?
4 – Hobbies
The number one rule of making a friend is knowing whether their interests and hobbies align with yours. Hence, diving into the other person’s interests and passions can help you to gain new insights or have a new buddy to do your hobbies with. Topics like these will get them enthusiastic and passionate, allowing you a chance to connect with them on a deeper level.
Be sure to ask them questions like:
- What do you do during your free time?
- What activities do you engage in outside of work?
- How did they become interested in their current hobbies?
Asking about what they do for entertainment is also a great way to get the conversation started. You can get to know what genre of shows they are interested in, and their favorite films and movies. Here are some questions that can help you to get the conversation started:
- What shows are you currently binge-watching?
- What shows do you enjoy rewatching?
- Do you have any go-to genres?
6 – Food
Food is possibly one of the easiest and best English small talk to be engaged in since almost everybody loves to eat. Ask which restaurants they’d recommend and the must-order dishes there. It would also be thoughtful to ask if they have any food allergies when on the topic of food.
However, food may not be the safest topic to talk about sometimes. This is especially the case if you notice somebody who is restrictive with their food intake during the party. Be sure to make them feel comfortable when engaging in such conversation. Additionally, you should be wary of the things you say when you are around these people. More often than not, we might say things that are harmless to us but harmful to others. What you say can be a potential anxiety trigger for others, hence be reminded always, to be kind and thoughtful with your words.
7 – Bucket list, dreams, and goals
Many of us surely have a bucket list, whereas some of us have a goal or dream that we wish to achieve. Hence, asking this question allows you to keep the conversation going and a chance for you to understand the other party better.
8 – Sports and wellness
It is also common for people to be engaged in sports and wellness nowadays, hence prompting a question in this category could help you to keep the conversation going. Everybody takes care of their health and body differently and you might even get insightful information from the conversation. However, it is important to know when to ask such questions.
Firstly, if you are in a group of two or more, make sure that you know that they are sports and wellness fans. You want to refrain from excluding someone from the conversation.
Secondly, whilst conversations like this are fun to talk about, they can become heated. Hence, be sure to keep the conversation light-hearted and enjoyable.
9 – Hometown and childhood
You can also talk about where they come from and how they lived their childhood. You might even discover a long-lost friend from your childhood. Start off the conversation with some of these questions:
- Where did you grow up in?
- What was your hometown like?
- What fond memories did you have in your hometown during your childhood days? \