If starting a conversation in English feels like the hardest thing, today I’m sharing some practical tips on how to start speaking! I’ll go over what to say in a few different situations and highlight some great places to strike up a conversation & get some speaking practice!
I’m sharing advice on where to strike up a conversation in Australia, but these tips are relevant in all English speaking countries.
The skills you’ll learn in this lesson skills I teach in this video will help you build confidence, make friends, practise English and have fun!
💃I want you all to remember that while studying is important, you’ve got to put what you learn into practice, in *real world* situations. And if it doesn't work out perfectly the first time, that's okay! You’ve learned what doesn’t work and can try again anytime.
📹 Watch the lesson and tell me… Can you think of any other great places to start an English conversation?
If you’re interested to learn more about Australian Football (AFL)
Watch this! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXFP5Bjq7TA
———- TIMESTAMPS ———-
03:26 At the pub
05:36 In the taxi
07:44 At the supermarket
09:01 When you're travelling
CLICK HERE to read the full lesson transcript.
More English lessons recommended for you:
Hey there I'm Emma from mmmEglish. If you're new here, you may not know that I'm from Australia so I thought it would be really fun to share a few tips with you about how to start a conversation in Australia with Australians.
Now I'm going to share a little more about Australian culture like what is this and I'm going to help you with some English conversation tips in some different settings like in a pub where Australians love to go, in a taxi or an Uber, at the supermarket and also some advice to help you strike up a conversation when you're travelling.
Remember to hit that subscribe button down there, turn on notifications so I can let you know when my new videos go live.
Are you ready? Let's play!
Even though I mentioned this video is about starting a conversation in Australia, you'll see that most of these conversation tips can work in any English-speaking country. If you're talking to a Brit, an American, Canadian, South African, New Zealander, all of these tips will help you to strike up a conversation with native English speakers.
To be honest, these tips are really not about having long in-depth conversations. They're suggestions to help you start conversations and the more you practise starting conversations and having these little interactions with other people the easier it will become so it's okay to start small.
As long as you're friendly, then a brief interaction is all you need to start building experience and confidence to talk with people more in English.
Before we get into it I really want to emphasise the importance of the greeting. You know, always trying to be polite, friendly and positive, it's going to get your conversation off to a good start. And most Australians are pretty relaxed and laid back and that's really reflected in the way that we greet each other.
Contrary to popular belief, not every Australian says “G'day“ every time they greet someone, right?
It's commonly used by men and probably more often by older men and it's really a short version of ‘good day' so we're saying hello and have a good one, have a good day at the same time so it's like a double greeting.
Now I want to give you a little demo so that you can practise. This is a really difficult expression to get right, you know most times anyone who's not Australian will mess this up. That's it.
It's just a really quick flap of the tongue on the top of your mouth. You can also say
“Hey, how ya goin'?” which basically just means how are you? Try it.
1. At the pub
If you've ever visited Australia or you live here, then you'll know that Australians usually spend a lot of time at the pub. Now the pub is a great place for you to strike up a conversation with an Australian.
People are usually really friendly and relaxed. They're in a good mood, they're joking around and you'll run into all different types of people so you'll learn a lot about Australian culture, about language, slang, mannerisms, all of these things. It's like a melting pot of Australian culture at the pub.
It's also where people are often watching sports so if there's a sports game on, a really great way to strike up a conversation is to say:
- What's the score?
- Who's playing?
I want you to try it with me, okay?
Now the most popular sport in Australia is unique to Australia. The AFL or the Australian football league and it's like the Australian version of the English premier league or the NFL or the NBA, right?
We also have soccer and rugby and cricket and sports like that but AFL is the most popular sport by far.
Anyone who comes to Australia is completely perplexed by our game, right? We have this weird shaped ball. There are four sticks at each end of the football field and everyone on the field is running around in really short shorts. It's going to take me like ten whole minutes, maybe more to try and explain the game so I've actually linked to another YouTube video if you're interested to see it and to find out more.
It's down in the description below. So if you want an easy way to start a conversation with someone in a pub or anywhere really, especially if there's a match on, then knowing a little bit about the game is going to help you.
2. In a taxi
Most taxi drivers love to have a chat so it's the perfect opportunity to practise your conversation skills in small talk. Australia is a multicultural place. There are lots of different people who drive Ubers and taxis right.
Many of them are people who've moved to Australia from elsewhere and so they're probably similar to you or have a similar experience to you in some way.
Why is this important?
Because there's so much to share and to talk about, you know, you have the opportunity to exchange experiences here so it's an easy way to get started with a conversation.
Now I usually jump in an Uber rather than a taxi so when I do that my go-to questions are:
- Have you been an Uber driver for long?
- Do you enjoy doing it?
- You must meet some really interesting people.
Now they might say they're doing it for some extra cash on the side while they're studying and then what can you ask them? You can ask them what they're studying, right? So it gives you all of these amazing opportunities to just practise building confidence with these conversation skills. Really easy way to get started.
If they have an accent I might ask:
- Have you been living in Australia for long?
- Do you like living here?
- What's been the hardest part about moving to a new country?
Try it. Nice one!
1. At the supermarket
A super place to strike up a conversation is at the supermarket. So just imagine that you need some help looking for a product, maybe for real, maybe you're just pretending so that you have the chance to talk to someone.
But in this case, you can go and find a shop assistant and ask them to help you find that item, right? Simple.
- Hi there! Can you help me to find the vegemite?
(Or whatever product you're looking for)
And as you're walking with them to find the product then you might say something like:
- It's so hard trying to find your way around a new supermarket!
Right? But that might prompt them to say: Are you new to the area?
But then you can continue the conversation by saying:
- Yeah, I'm actually from (your country). I've been here for a few months now.
Or you can just continue talking about the product that you're looking for. You might say:
- I'm from Italy and interestingly I really love vegemite – from the moment I first tried it. I know lots of non-native Australians don't really enjoy it but I do.
4. When you're travelling
When you're travelling in an English-speaking country is the perfect opportunity to get as much speaking practice as you can, isn't it? You can ask questions when you're on your tours or ask for directions or recommendations, just ask someone to take a photo of you.
Let's practise a little together, okay?
- Sorry for interrupting… Does this train go to the city?
- Excuse me, do you mind taking a photo of us?
So saying “excuse me” or “do you mind”, they're really polite ways of approaching or interrupting a stranger.
- Excuse me, I've only just arrived in Melbourne and I'm a little lost. Can you tell me where the post office is?
Try it, okay?
Adding that you've only just arrived helps the person to understand that you're new. They might even ask some other questions about where you're visiting from or how long you're staying or what your plans are.
So you're taking every opportunity to spark up a conversation. Some of them will work and others won't. You won't get much of a reaction. Who cares?
The important thing is that you're having a go and that is one characteristic about Australians that you can definitely benefit from. We love seeing people have a go you know having a crack.
So I hope that you enjoyed a little mini journey into how to start a conversation in Australia and I really hope that you're able to come and visit us soon.
The most important thing that you take away from this video is just to get started. Just by greeting someone, you're letting them know that you have the courage to be bold along with being relaxed and positive and if you really enjoy sports Australians love and they appreciate people who step out of their comfort zone, you know, have a crack.
And don't think of every conversation as it has to be this endless hour-long discussion, just a quick exchange with a few people every day is enough to build your confidence over time.
And now that you know a little more about the land down under, I'm curious to find out. Are you coming to visit? Which city are you going to visit first? What's on your bucket list? Let me know down in the comments and I'll see you next week.
Bye for now!