Учитель английского языка
Вторник, 09 февраля 2016 11:54

Small Talk

Small Talk


A stranger stands next to you at a bus stop. You wait in line at the bank. Your teacher is late for class. What can you do with this time? You can make small talk. When you meet a new person, you can have a short, simple conversation. This is small talk. It’s a way to get to know someone. Some of the most popular small talk topics include the weather, sports, family, and work. These are all universaltopics that anyone can talk about.

Some people think that small talk is difficult. They feel shy, or they don’t feel prepared to talk to strangers. Other people even think that small talk is cliche. They prefer to have more meaningful conversations, and they don’t want to talk about simple things like the weather. But small talk is a great way to meet new friends and learn new things. Sometimes, all you need is a smile to begin a conversation.

Jessica is going to go on a date with her secret admirer, but she is nervous. Watch today’s English lesson to hear Sara’s small talk ideas.


Sara_R: Marni said you have a secret admirer.
Jessica: Someone has been leaving me gifts. I’m thinking about meeting him for coffee this Friday.
Sara_R: You’re not sure?
Jessica: I am so bad at small talk.
Sara_R: It’s normal to feel shy on a first date.
Jessica: Not just on first dates. I am always bad at small talk. I never know what to say to someone who I’ve just met.
Sara_R: You can ask him about the weather.
Jessica: But that’s so cliche. I want to talk about more meaningful things.
Sara_R: I hear what you’re saying. Hey, I have an idea! Make a list before you go of things to ask him about.
Jessica: Like what?
Sara_R: Ask him about his family. Ask him which countries he’s visited, or if he hasn’t traveled, where he wants to go. Ask about his job.
Jessica: But isn’t that kind of boring?
Sara_R: Not at all. Family, travel, work… those are all universal topics that everyone can talk about. It’s how people get to knoweach other, whether you’re on a date, or taking a class together, or waiting for the bus…
Jessica: OK. But will you help me? I want to feel prepared.
Sara_R: Of course! Small Talk 101. Tomorrow afternoon?
Jessica: Great. Thank you, Sara.
Sara_R: I’m happy to do it.


Jessica’s secret admirer has been giving her many presents. She tells Sara that she will probably go on a date with him. But she is very nervous about making small talk. She feels like she has nothing to say. Sara gives her some ideas. She suggests talking about the weather, but Jessica wants to have a deeper, meaningful conversation.

Sara gives Jessica more ideas, including making a list of topics that she could talk about. Jessica is afraid that these simple topics will be boring and cliche, but Sara says that they are universal and easy for all people to talk about. Jessica wants more help in order to be prepared, so Sara says that she will give her a class on Small Talk 101.

Do you like to make small talk with strangers? What is the most interesting thing you learned from small talk?

Grammar Point

Present Perfect Progressive

Jessica is telling Sara about her secret admirer. She says, “Someone has been leaving me gifts.” She uses the present perfect progressive.

We form the present perfect progressive (sometimes called the “present perfect continuous”) with have/has been + main verb + ing. We use this tense to talk about an on-going action that began in the past, is still in progress, and may continue into the future.

For example, you might say, “I have been thinking about getting a new car for weeks.” You first thought of getting a new car weeks ago, you’re currently thinking of getting one, and unless you buy one or decide not to buy one right now, you’ll continue thinking about it.

When Jessica says, “Someone has been leaving me gifts,” she uses the present perfect progressive to show that he began leaving gifts in the past, he is still leaving gifts, and he will probably continue to leave gifts.

Which is correct, “We have thinking about moving to China,” or, “We have been thinking about moving to China”?


  1. Which of these is not a universal small talk topic?

  2. Sara does not suggest __.

  3. Your friend says, “I hear what you’re saying.” What does this mean?

  4. We do not use the present perfect progressive to talk about __.

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