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English Speaking Training- Opening a Conversation— Top Tip!


English Speaking Training– How to Start a Conversation– The Top Tip!

Approximately 2010, I read a newspaper article that changed overnight my typical greeting to everyone.

The article’s topic was how to talk to a person who has recently suffered the death of a loved one—- spouse, partner, parent, child, relative, friend or for many, pet.

The article pointed out that the typical greeting is “How are you?” For a person suffering the loss of a loved one, the truthful answer would be “bad” for a considerable amount of time. The author reminded the readers that in North America, the expected answer is “Fine.” But that answer for people in grief is “a lie” and not at all accurate.

So the article suggested “How are things going?”. Then respondenta can answer the typical “Fine,” or “OK,” because for the “things” in their life — daily activities– those are “OK.” Emotions not fine but activites are OK. Noteably, the respondent has not been forced to lie or be untruthful.

Body language and tone of voice will reveal a great deal about the current well-being of people. Be alert to those.

For communication interactions where the other person is not grieving for a loved one, the question of “How are things going?” makes it easier for the respondent to immediately describe a recent significant happening in their life. For example, “I just got word from the programmer who developed the coding for my research for my PhD that there is an error in the code.” Or, “I had to let go the nanny for my child.” Those are real life examples.

The specific words of a question go a long way in determining the depth and quality of the answer.

Why would you want to know the current state of well-being of the other person? So you can determine how to proceed with the upcoming communication or task. If the other person had a car accident the previous day, then your proceeding forward with discussion of complex tasks could be modified to take account of less than optimal well-being.. Also, you could do follow-up questions to determine the current physical and emotional status of the other person. Follow-up questions show that you care. For relationahip and rapport, caring is the foundation.

For improving your pronunciation and diction for clear American English, practice with our English Speech Tips videos and Accent Reduction Tip videos.

Check out our subscription called ClearTalk Weekly,– weekly English intelligibility and pronunciation tutorials — video audio, and extra reading aloud exercises. Use the subscription as a first time learner with Clear Talk Mastery or as a refresh for your learning in the coached course. Just so you know, people’s pronunciation can drift from the great accuracy achieved during the coached courses. Click here for information about the subsripiton www.subscription.cleartalkmastery.com

How to ask for a date

How to ask for a date?


Getting started is the hardest.

People who speak English as a second language often ask about colloquial or typical prases for asking a person out for a date.  They want the general North American pattern of that conversation,  In the United States, males can ask and females can ask.

Warmup Question

“How are you?”

“How’s it going?”

Rationale: The answer tells whether to proceed forward.  Tone of voice and body language may indicate that the other person is going through a very hard time, say, an accident or death in the family. Such a circumstance is not a good time to ask for a date.

Ask about Schedule

“What are you doing tonight?”

“Do you have any plans on (day of the week)?”

Rationale:  If the person has another commitment or is exhausted, then regroup on your plan for when to do this date.

Mention Activity

“There’s this cool (activity idea) coming up.”

“I’ve been meaning to check out (activity idea)”

Rationale:  The appeal of the activity idea might be enough to persuade the other person that going out with you is a great idea!

Ask for agreement to date or activity

“Do you want to go out?”

“Do you want to (activity idea)?”

Rationale: Be direct and to the point even if feeling shy or uncertain about the other person’s answer.  If you are not, then the other person may not even know that she/he has been asked out.


“You’re just fun to hang out with.”

“You’re just so interesting.”

Rationale:  Compliments help other persons know what is their appeal to you.

Advancing the idea or giving an encouraging description

“It’ll be a lot of fun.”

“The weather’s going to be great.”

“I’ve heard (activity idea) is awesome.”

Rationale: Focusing on the activity and the pleasure eases some of the uncertainty and pressure on the other person to say yes.

Retreat or allowing for space to decide

“Just thought I’d put it out there.”

“Only if it sounds like fun.”

“No pressure.”

“Figured it was worth asking.”

Rationale: Notice the body language to determine whether they are indecisive and not sure.  Take the pressure off to make it easier for them to agree to go out with you, or not go out with you, on this occasion.  Also taking the pressure off doesn’t lock them into never going out with you.  For example, if you suggest ice skating, they could turn you down because they don’t know how to ice skate.

Once you have the basic phrases engrained in your mind (memorized), combine for what fits your circumstance.

To be redundant, observe body language to interpret the other’s response to doing a date or activity with you. With that, you could proceed with enthusiasm in the form of advancing the idea or giving an encouraging description.  Or you could decide to go with a bit of humbleness in the form of a retreat.   Both are follow-up phrases which give the other person time and space to decide if she or he wants to go out or do an activity with you.

If rejection comes because of the activity, ask the other person what activity she/he would feel comfortable or excited about.

Be sure to watch our English Speech Tips videos and Accent Reduction Tip videos  for more English pronunciation and accent reduction exercises.

Keep in Touch

Keep in Touch The Power of Staying in Touch… and Reconnecting

You ever get “Keep in touch” line at the end of a note, written or email?Great power is in staying in touch and reconnecting. Think about your relationships, past and present which are likely more vast than your initial thought. Relationships are like a garden, they need tending. Cultivate your relationships, your network, for growth, action, and interaction.

Staying in touch with people is like the little drops of water that make the trees grow and blossom. (Don’t know how to initiate? — “Been thinking about you.” “We haven’t communicated in a while. Do you have a few minutes to chat by phone in the next few days or week?”)