Thursday, September 27, 2007

Talking about Small Talk

Many of my advanced ESL students ask me about "small talk." Small talk is the short conversations we have with other people when we first see them or first meet them. Small talk topics include the weather, sports, and traffic. Sometimes "chit chat" is also considered small talk.

The purpose of small talk is to break the ice and for people to get comfortable talking to one another. Sometimes it's just a cultural norm that people take part in.

Many of my students make the mistake of saying "small talks." It's always just "small talk," without an "s." The verb to use is "make." For example, "It's often common for people meeting each other for the first time to make small talk."

It seems like a fairly simple thing for native English speakers to do, but making small talk is one of the topics that ESL teachers should teach their ESL students so that they can feel more comfortable with their English speaking skills.


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