Conversations 3

English Skill: Starting a Discussion

Here are a couple of situations for you. Do either of them sound a little familiar?

  1. You are out doing a bit of shopping and you see an old colleague/friend. You decide to approach him/her and start a discussion with the intention of finding out what they are doing these days, how their family is, etc.
  1. You need to speak with a work colleague who is full of the joys of spring having just returned from holiday. It’s time to start a discussion with him/her and explain what it is you need/want from him/her.

Although starting a discussion should be a piece of cake, doing so can often be more difficult than first anticipated. You don’t want to come across super awkward or sound unnaturally weird and you certainly don’t want to be a pain, so here are some common phrases you may want to employ next time you have the opportunity to practise a bit of conversation starting English!

Starting a Discussion

Starting a Discussion

What phrases have you used to start a discussion recently? Do you think you will use any of the expressions above?


Conversations 2

English Skill: Keeping a Conversation Flowing

Have you ever been in the difficult situation of having (or trying to have) a conversation with someone who, for whatever reason, just does not want to contribute to the conversation? Perhaps he/she is a little bit shy or maybe they are not confident enough in their use of English, but either way it doesn’t make things any easier and those quiet times when the conversation dries up can be awkward! Well, next time you find yourself in a similar situation, why not try to help things out by incorporating a few useful English phrases? The phrases below are common English phrases that native English speakers often use to help keep a conversation flowing. The phrases don’t need to be used just in awkward situations and are equally suitable to help along a nice discussion with someone such as a friend.

Common phrases to help keep a conversation flowing.

Common phrases to help keep a conversation flowing.

  • Have you ever been involved in a conversation that included some uneasy silences? What did you do?
  • What other phrases might you use to keep a conversation flowing with someone? Let me know your thoughts by posting a comment!


Asking for Travel Information (i)

Asking for Travel Information

Can you match the situations to the expressions?

  1. Ask how often the buses are to the city centre.
  2. You want to know the latest time you can return. What do you ask?
  3. Ask the driver for a ticket to the city centre and if it is cheaper to buy a return ticket.
  4. You want to go to the hospital and see a bus at the bus stop. What do you ask the bus driver?
  5. You’d like the driver to tell you when it’s your stop. What do you ask?
  6. As you’re driving, you see some friends walking home. How do you offer to take them?
  7. If someone gives you a lift, how do you tell them when you want to get out?
  8. You’ve arranged to drive a friend to the football match and will be at his house at 7 o’clock. What do you say?
  9. You are driving to Norwich and you think you may have gone the wrong way. What do you ask someone?
  10. You have a map are not sure where you are. What do you ask someone?

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Asking for Travel Information

Can you match the correct expressions to the situations below them? Good luck! 

  1.  What do you say when you telephone a hotel to reserve a room?
  2.  You’d like to stay for two evenings by yourself.  What do you ask?
  3. You’d like a room for you and your husband or wife with a bathroom.  What do you say?
  4. You’d like a room for you and your friend with separate beds and a shower.  What do you ask?
  5. You’d like to see the sea from your room.  What do you ask?
  6. Ask if you have to pay extra for breakfast.
  7. Ask how much it costs to have evening meals in the hotel.
  8. Ask how much it costs to have all your meals in the hotel.
  9. What do you say when you arrive at the hotel?
  10. You find the traffic outside your room very noisy. What do you say at reception?











Meeting People at Conferences

Learn and practice English.

A company called Froogle, is organising a conference in London. During the break, all the people attending the conference have the chance to meet up to get to know each other. Take a look at the conversation below the photograph and see if you can find the six deliberate mistakes. Post your answers in the comments below.

A group of business people at business conference.

A group of business people at business conference.

  • Paco: Hello Alison! I’m so pleased to see you again.
  • Alison: Hi Paco. I didn’t know you were attending this conference. How are you?
  • Paco: Thanks, fine. And you?
  • Alison: I’m OK. Is Jose, here too?
  • Paco: No, he can’t make it this time.
  • Alison: Never mind. Ah look, here’s Ali. Hi there. Do you both know each other? Paco – this is Ali Akram. He’s from Casablanca.
  • Paco: Hello. Pleased to meet you.
  • Ali: I’m please to meet you too. Have you been to here long?
  • Paco: No. I’ve only been here for about an hour. What about you?
  • Ali: I came early today morning…. and this is Fatima. She works with me in Casablanca. I’m sorry what you did say your name was?
  • Paco: I’m Paco, from Madrid. Pleased to meet you. Paul, is speaking next. Have you had a chance to meet him yet?
  • Fatima: No, not yet. I have heard a lot about him.
  • Paco: Well, can I introduce you to him? I can see him just over there.
  • Paco: Er….Paul. Can I introduce you to Fatima?
  • Paul: Hello Fatima. How are you? I think I saw you give a presentation a couple of years ago. Please to actually meet you. Do you like something to drink?
  • Fatima: Thank You. A tomato juice please.


Saying goodbye at conferences

Most of us will have to attend a business conference at some time in our lives and for some it is a regular occurrence.

Conferences are a great opportunity to meet business associates and make new contacts. Knowing how to greet people and say goodbye in a correct and appropriate way is important but often difficult to do for many non-native English speakers.

Work Conferences

Work Conferences

Have a look at the dialogue between some business associates below. They have just attended a conference and now it is time to leave.

Can you spot the six errors in the dialogue? I have started you off by underlining the first error.


  • I’m afraid it gets late. I really must to go.
  • – OK. It was a great conference wasn’t it?
  • – Fantastic. Especially John’s speech.
  • – Yes. Don’t forget to email me the transcript.
  • – I won’t. Take care Sarah. It was good to see you. Bye.
  • – Yes it was good to see you too. Say hello to Simon for me. Tell him I will call him.
  • – Of course. He will be pleased to hear from you. See you then and goodbye, Lisa.
  • – Goodbye, Pete. Have a good travel. It was great to meet you.
  • – Bye all!
  • – So Sarah, when you leave?
  • – Well not for a while as yet…my flight is at eight o’ clock.
  • – Well please to visit us here again one day. John! Hi.
  • – I would like to say…Thanks everything. It was a fantastic speech.
  • – Thank you. You are too kind. Will you be in New York next month?
  • – Yes. I am really looking forward to it.
  • – Great.I’ll send you the schedule next week. See you then. All the best!
  • – Thank you. See you soon. Take care. Bye.

Post your answers in the comments below.