English Lesson: Conversation Flow

Michael Uncategorized 2 Comments

Yesterday we looked at two ways you can “drive” a conversation forward; using follow-up questions and answering a question with more information and details (Q=A+1). If you haven’t see that lesson yet, please click this link to study it. Then, check out today’s lesson:

English conversation is similar to a game of tennis. Just as the ball flies back and forth from on player to the next, an English conversation flies back and forth from one speaker to the next. Each person in the conversation take turns being the speaker and the listener, and in each role, you need to remember to keep the game going.
Let’s see how Brad and Angela’s conversation is progressing, and how the conversation is like a game of tennis

Brad: Hey Angela ← Brad serves the ball, starting the conversation
Angela: Hi Brad. How’s it going? ← Angela replies and hits the ball back with a return question
Brad: Pretty good. What’s up? ← Brad replies and hits the ball back with a return question
Angela: I’m going on vacation next week. I’m so excited. ← Angela replies and hits the ball with Q=A+1
Brad: Oh cool! Where are you going? ← Brad replies and hits the ball back with a return question
Angela: I’m going to New York. Have you ever been there? ← Angela replies and hits the ball back with a return question.

Here you will see one more type of conversation “driver,” the return question. The return question moves the conversation forward by returning it to the other person. Brad also responds to Angela’s news with “Oh cool!” In English, we respond to information in a conversation with words. In some languages, you respond with sounds, and not words. Let’s look at some examples.

Angela: I’m going on vacation next week. I’m so excited.
Brad: Haaay! ← Not good for English conversation
Angela: I’m going on vacation next week. I’m so excited.
Brad: Mnnnnnn. ← Also not good for English conversation

So, what words can you use to react in an English conversation? Here are just a few examples.

When you hear positive news or information:
→ That’s nice | That’s great! | That’s fantastic | That’s wonderful | Excellent, etc. 
When you hear neutral news or information:
→ I see | Oh! | Ok | That’s interesting, etc. 
When you hear negative news or information:
→ That’s terrible | Oh my! | Sorry to hear that. | That’s a shame, etc. 

Let’s see how this all fits together:

Brad: Hey Angela
Angela: Hi Brad. How’s it going?
Brad: Pretty good. What’s up?
Angela: I’m going on vacation next week. I’m so excited.
Brad: Oh cool! Where are you going?
Angela: I’m going to New York. Have you ever been there?
Brad: Excellent! No, I’ve never been there. How about you?
Angela: I see. Well, it’s my first time. But I have one small problem
Brad: Oh? What’s that?
Angela: I can’t find my passport. It may be lost.
Brad: Sorry to hear that. What are you going to do?

And so we come to the end of Brad and Angela’s story. How was that? I hope this was a useful series of lessons is helpful for your English conversation. Feel free to leave a comment or send a request for a one-point lesson.

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