Wednesday, January 7, 2009

"It Sure Has Been Cold Lately"

Yesterday at one of the coffee shops I use as an "office," the owner/server started making small talk about the weather. (It was cool and drizzly.) As an ESL tutor, these seemingly inconsequential conversations are not wasted on me.

"Small talk" is one of the frequent areas of concern for many of my ESL students working as professionals in the U.S. Native English-speakers take this for granted. No big deal. But for English language learners, small talk can be a challenge.

Appropriate topics for small talk, how much small talk to make, when is it appropriate. All these are concerns for my ESL students.

So when the coffee shop owner from Morocco started talking about the weather, it did not go unnoticed by me!


1 comment:

Lucy said...

Yes, small talk is absolutely necessary! My students often tell me that no matter how much they've learned, they always get stunned when approached with the simplest of comments. This morning for example, when I walked in a few minutes late, I saw one of my students in the hallway and asked him quite casually: "Is everyone else here?" Well, I had to repeat this twice, and then finally say: 'Is everyone in class?' -Needless to say, we went over this in class; where I noticed that he wasn't the only person who couldn't get this immediately. So, yes, the simplest forms of conversation can never be taken for granted. Thanks for this post.

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