November 26, 2012 by Erin Summ In July, I took a trip to Boston for my last coach training, and learned one of my greatest lessons. Four days later, my training was over and I was sightseeing around Boston when my phone rang. I invite you to consciously focus on being present for the next week and notice the difference in your interactions. Update: I have created a NEW video course on how to make good conversation and how to get the friends you want.
In this article you will learn how to start and maintain an interesting conversation with anyone, anytime.
You want to have a conversation because you want to enjoy the conversation itself, or it would be too awkward not saying anything. You want to ask the person something or learn something, such as asking for directions or how to perform an exercise at the gym.
If you walk up to a stranger, no matter what the purpose of the conversation is, make sure it will APPEAR like the last type of conversation: You want to know something or ask something.
Starting a conversation with someone that you don’t know can be difficult if you feel nervous. As soon as you notice the other person talking more than you, make some statements or tell something about yourself. The conversation is not very interesting and one of the participants doesn’t feel like making conversation anymore. To make it easy for the other person to say something, make sure to put a question after your ending statement. We are more interested in ourselves and our own lives and experiences than other people’s lives and experiences.
As a rule of thumb, you and the and the person that you are talking to should talk roughly half the time each. By asking questions, you will also find out about mutual interests and similarities that you have.  Similarities mean the jackpot.
You should also try to mirror the social energy level of the person you are talking to by talking as fast or slow.
We've created a free video training on how to become really good at making conversation and actually bond with people.
Viktor SanderViktor studied Behavioral Science, Social Psychology, Conflict Resolution and Interviewing Methodology at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and has a B Sc. Ideally, when you meet people, conversation and consequent bonding just happens, but what do you do when you’re stuck? My previous post, Playing Games, Part 1, offered my reasons for playing games in the language classroom and a description of what I feel makes a successful and useful game.
This conversation board game is easy to create, but one of the most useful ones I have in my magic bag of teacher supplies. Each student places a marker on start, and then they take turns to role a die and move their marker around the board. It’s not a game that anyone can “win”—if someone reaches the end of the path, the final square says “go back,” and play reverses.
More complex questions can of course be designed that practice only the past tense, or conditional structures, or certain vocabulary. I’ll close with a look at a blank game board I’ve used for grammar games—this takes more effort to create, but you can also consider having students make your game cards or at least using the game over and over again if you are lucky enough to teach the same class for several terms.
This game board, as you can see, has nothing written on the squares other than a few simple game-play instructions not related to language; however, the squares are all painted one of six colors. Really, any type of drill-based language exercise can be put onto cards, where suddenly it becomes fun instead of boring.
The training was an hour away from the airport, outside the city, so I booked a taxi ahead of time.


He has spent the past three years battling in court, trying to get his money back, to no avail.
I was finally starting to see the impact I left on this man, and it was all because I gave him my undivided attention, asked a few questions and listened.
Watch it now by clicking on the link, and learn principles behind making conversation as well as step-by-step methods.
This often happens if you end up next to someone on the train or the people you see at work, in school or through various interests. Coming up from nowhere and starting to talk without a clear reason will creep most people out. The nervousness blocks you brain and you will have a hard time coming up with things to say.
It will actually make it easier for you to come up with things to say when you initiate a conversation. If you ask too many questions without letting the other person know something about you, they will feel uncomfortable. If there are three people in the same conversion, everyone should talk one third each, and so on. For such situations, it is important to be aware of the ingredients that make a natural conversation flow and consciously use them when required. Neither the service provider nor the domain owner maintain any relationship with the advertisers. However, what most teachers really want to know is, What are some good games that I can make and use? If the ones in the photos here look a bit beaten up, it’s because I’ve been using them since 1992!
I buy the 8- or 12-sided dice from hobby shops to spread students around the board more; if you don’t have access to these, I recommend using two of the traditional six-sided dice. I generally have students play for 20-30 minutes, but I have never had a group where any player got all the way back to start. Students get to know one another, and while they are playing, I walk around and listen to them—this is my evaluation of their English level. Each color represents a type of task, and I create a stack of cards with the tasks on them. You needn’t think up all of the exercises yourself, even—copy them out of your class textbook as a review.
And I would like to stress again that the use of any game must not only be clear to you, but clear to your students. For a while, especially as a young teacher, I was reluctant to try too many games with adult classes. Meanwhile, it can be super-easy to come up with things to say when you are around people you know. You can control this by asking questions when you notice that you have done your share of the talking.
When the other person is taking a pause, quickly summarize in one sentence what the person has been talking about.
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The originals are made of heavy cardboard that has been painted and then shellacked; the questions are written with permanent marker. For example, yellow might indicate “spell this word.” If a student lands on yellow, he draws a card and hands it to a fellow player without looking at it, and the other player asks him to spell the word. You should always let a class know why they are doing what they are doing, and when the game is concluded, point out to them what language they practiced and how they practiced it. But as long as you can (and do!) clearly explain why the activity is useful, I find that adults just love a bit of color and variety in their learning tasks.


To make them bigger, you can just expand them to A3 and print on 2 sheets of A4 which you then tape together and laminate.
I think the laminating is important, though, or you’ll have to make them again and again. We chatted about my trip so far and the Red Sox game I’d be attending that evening (he remembered!). Just being with them and truly listening is incredibly powerful and any of you can do that. A person will find a conversation interesting when they get to talk about something they can relate to. Asking questions is an excellent way to involve the other person, and getting to know him or her. These can be adapted to a variety of classroom levels, and I have used them with private students and huge classes alike (though note that in larger classes, students will be playing in groups, and  you will need one set of materials per group). I have also made color photocopies of the boards and had the copies laminated, so that I can roll them up and travel with them when necessary.
When she feels she has finished, she passes the die to the next student, and play continues.
An extremely simple activity, and yet just having the questions in a “game” format makes it more interesting than the standard pair interview presented on a worksheet. However, if items from Exercise 13 appeared on the backs of cards in a stack—well, you would be surprised at how happily students drill themselves with those items again and again! I’m a strong supporter of not making materials unless you know you can use them more than once. Validating him and asking questions were a big deal, but almost as important was how I listened.
People don’t always need you to give advice, or need you to “say the right thing,” but to simply listen.
No matter how interesting you are and how many adventures you have been on, people will get bored if they can’t relate to what you are saying.
Blue squares might ask a student to put a sentence in the present tense into the past, and so on. He said “I could use some coaching.” I giggled because people say that jokingly to me all the time. He is in his 50’s, was planning to retire very soon and was going to use some of the money to send his granddaughter to college. You could assign students in groups to come up with a series of tasks or exercises as homework and then have each color represent a different group’s cards. Now, he must work 6 days a week, starting at 1:30 am, just to barely pay his bills, and he will be working many more years than planned. I listened and used my skills as a coach to ask him empowering questions, helping him to get out of his own way. We tend to get so caught up in our own minds, thinking about the rat race and our to-do lists, that we have a hard time paying attention to others, especially those we love. How would your life change if you took time out of your day to truly listen to those you love? He told me he spends every waking moment, thinking about this wrongdoing, what life would look like if he still had his money.



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