If you are reading this, your English must be good already. You are able to understand complex sentence structures and, if you are a regular reader, you already have a solid vocabulary and know a variety of idioms and expressions.
I very often meet students whose skills are at this level in my classes. They can express themselves well but still have trouble making conversation in English with clients or new social contacts. They always ask me the same question:
How can I improve my English conversation skills?
If you can already express yourself well and still need to ask this question, there’s a very simple way to improve your English conversation skills – Ask more questions.
Asking questions is a skill that is overlooked in almost every English textbook. Sure, they teach you the word order and the difference between direct and indirect questions. However, I have never seen a textbook that explains how important questions are in a real-life conversation.
Think about it. In your language, after you have made a statement, what do you do? Do you just say something and wait to see what the other person will say? I thought not. In most languages, when you look at a conversation between two people, each statement is followed by some kind of question prompting the other person to speak.
The questions most English speakers use to prompt a response are:
- what do you think?
- how about you?
- and you?
- what’s your opinion?
Just by adding these simple phrases to the end of your statements, your English will change from just speaking to a real conversation. You’ll also find out more about your conversation partner and get ideas about what he or she likes and how to develop the discussion further.
What do you think? Do you want to try it?
This is part of my ‘Tuesday Tips‘ series. Every Tuesday, I share a simple tip on how to improve your language skills. Some of these are techniques I use with students in class and others are things I’ve found work well when learning languages myself. If you decide to try them out, let me know how they went by leaving a comment below the article. Click here to see some more tips on how to improve your English.
Today’s image is by Michal Zacharzewski.