There are two aspects to successful communication. The first is making yourself understood. The second is understanding the other person. In order to be a good communicator in English, you need to develop both.
So, when you are speaking in English with somebody you should check and be clear that you understand correctly. This even more important when you can’t see the other person’s face, such as on the telephone.
One of the most common reasons people need to improve their English is so they can socialise and network with other people. In the business world, these other people are colleagues, customers and clients – both current and future.
How would you rate yourself for each of these skills? Be honest. Many people speaking English for business can talk with confidence about their companies, products and services but do not have enough vocabulary to make small talk. Some people are able to talk and talk and talk but find it difficult to understand when other people are talking, especially at noisy social events. Other people find socialising with people from other countries and cultures stressful because they are unsure about differences in acceptable behaviour.
Here are a few videos and activities you can use to test or develop your knowledge and skills.
Listen to two conversations between people meeting each other in social situations. They use a lot of standard phrases. Notice the questions they ask and the answers they give. Think about the questions and answers you would give in the same situation.
The rules of small talk are simple and easy to remember but how do you apply them in English? Watch our video. Notice how the people in the video respond in the wrong way. Pause the video and think about how you would reply before seeing the answer we gave.
Everywhere you go in the world, the restaurants of France, the cafés of Italy, the diners of America, the hawker centres of Singapore and the pubs of Britain, there are rules and vocabulary unique to those places that are ‘natural’ to local people but confusing to visitors from other countries.
Try our short quiz about the vocabulary used in British pubs, what it means and how we use it. What vocabulary and advice would you give to a visitor to your country?