To kick off today, some site news about Get Into English:
While I continue to post articles and worksheets on learning English, I’m also looking for a professional designer to help improve the look of this blog and to make it a better reading experience. I’ll be asking around for feedback from friends and students, and please feel free to add your views on how Get Into English can improve below.
In addition, I’m planning a client-only zone, which I think will be great for students and clients who wish to learn English in Prague with me. More on this later on!
So you may see some changes in the coming weeks and months, but overall I’m sure it will help make this blog a better read for everyone.
ps and check out the new page on Facebook here 😉
Small talk phrases
So, did you catch the game?
The (AFL) Australian Football Grand Final took place at the weekend, and Geelong came through in the end. Almost 100 000 people were at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, with millions more watching on TV. I can imagine on Monday that it was the only thing that people were talking about in pubs and at water coolers in offices all over the city!
It’s a reminder too that talking about sport, the weather, what you did last night or at the weekend is an important part of the language and culture across the English-speaking world.
We call it small talk. We use informal phrases, phrasal verbs and idiomatic expressions when we chat and ask each other about how we’re going:
I hear you went to the party. How did you find it?
I’m popping over to Bill’s later on – want to come?
How did you like the big match?
What did you get up to yesterday?
Did you get up to much over the weekend?
The funny thing about this however is that SO much teaching time at some English language schools is devoted to grammar. Yet when you land in Australia or the States or Great Britain, will you be prepared to actually speak with the locals?
For some learners I’ve had over the years in Prague, they don’t see the sense in small talk, as it’s not as big a feature of Czech compared to English. I remember when I first arrived in town and asked some friends “jak se máš?” (how are you?), only for them to smile and respond:
“Actually we don’t really say that, David.”
I also remember having a class in a company when the first student to arrive was an IT guy, someone who preferred to study the rules of the language rather than have a conversation at 8am in the morning with a guy from Australia. Those first five minutes before the others came were painful, probably for both of us:
– So how was your weekend?
– Did you go anywhere?
– Yes, I was at the cottage..
At that point he had this look on his face like “I hope the real lesson will start soon.”
Then one day I did something different:
– What did you read in the newspaper this morning?
Suddenly he was speaking for ages about his thoughts on the war in Iraq!
Today I won’t argue so much about why these conversational phrases and expressions are important for students to be exposed to and practise, partly as my own students generally agree that they are useful for speaking English naturally.
Small talk phrases worksheet
So we can move forward here and look at this recent worksheet I did with one student. I’m sharing it here for my other students and hope you too will find it useful 🙂
Level: Upper Intermediate (B2+)
Time: if you practise the language by asking your friends the questions (or your teacher), this can take more than 30 minutes.
Task: fill in the gaps with the right word. As well, there are some typical features of English conversation in the worksheet – what do you notice that seems different to what might be in a ‘traditional’ English coursebook?
The pronunciation of the questions and phrases is important to practise, which we can do in the next lesson as a warm up.
Please download it here and if you have any questions, feel free to ask below!
Or get it here if the link doesn’t work:
Small talk – so how was the flight
Let me know how you go!