At my last job as a junior high English teacher here in Mexico, I always felt just a little bit nervous arriving at school.
I felt nervous because even though I'm pretty fluent in Spanish, I wanted to be professional and not make mistakes in Spanish while having simple conversations with the other teachers and the school director.
I also knew that it was important for my working relationships that I be able to make casual, friendly small talk with my co-workers. But even though I'm fluent in Spanish, I didn’t grow up in this culture. So another thing I would worry about was whether or not I was talking about an inappropriate subject (something I SHOULDN'T say).
One thing that makes small talk easier in your native language is that you pretty much know the best and most appropriate topics to talk about according to your culture.
So for Part 2 of this series on small talk, I want to share my understanding of topics and specific questions that you should AVOID while making small talk in English with Americans:
Small talk. I get nervous just thinking about making small talk, and I speak English as my first language!
People (okay, maybe even me too!) love to say things like, “Ah! I HATE small talk!” ...or “Why do I have to make small talk?”
But, if you want to get ahead in business, it’s important to form relationships, real working relationships, with your co-workers, boss, clients and other people in your field or related fields.
And here’s a secret for you: small talk is the basis for being successful in business and in your professional life.
The best way to start is with simple conversations. Read on for 30+ professionally appropriate conversation starters:
Halloween is almost here! I love Halloween. It’s a day when you can wear a weird, funny or scary costume and eat a lot of candy. Over the years, I’ve dressed up as a witch, a belly dancer, Snow White, a cowgirl, a nurse, a Geisha girl and even an old woman - I think that last costume was my favorite!
On Halloween (October 31st), people also decorate their houses. They might put up scary and creepy decorations, or they might put out pumpkins or carved pumpkins called jack o-lanterns. Some people even turn their houses into haunted houses.
My parents live in a nice residential area in California, and they get HUNDREDS of kids knocking on their door on Halloween asking for candy. This process of going to different houses and asking for candy is called “trick or treating.”
The kids who go trick or treating usually look so cute in their costumes...but some of them wear really scary or gruesome costumes!
Feeling scared (or trying to scare someone else) is a big part of Halloween. So this Halloween I’d like to share some spooky idioms and expressions with ghosts, skeletons, witches and all things SCARY.
If thinking about English idioms makes you white as a ghost (i.e. so scared that you turn white) don’t worry! All these scary, and not so scary, idioms are explained below:
Reading funny jokes is a simple and entertaining way to study English.
You can learn new vocabulary and phrases through jokes as well as get some insights* into what Americans, Brits, Australians, etc. find humorous*. You will also learn about culture through studying jokes.
I've rounded up* five of my recent favorite jokes and puns* from around the Internet. I have also included some explanations to help you study deeper!:
Happy Mother's Day!
Here are a few common words that we use when we talk about our mothers in English:
In more formal situations (with the boss, filling out forms) we use 'mother'. For example:
Boss: Where are your parents from?
Employee: Well, my mother's family is from New York.
In more casual situations (with our co-workers, family and friends) we use 'mom'. For example:
Learn to speak real, conversational American English with Sabrina, an American English teacher.
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