Study Skills - make small talk

Malc Prentice

A conversation has 6 parts: A, B, C, D, E, & F

Do all 6 every time you change partners

A) Say Hello


How's it going?
How are things?
How've you been?
Good. You?
What's new?
What's up?
Not much. You?
Alright? Alright. You?

B) Make small talk

For people you just met:

What's your name? Where are you from? Where do you live
What's your major? What other classes are you taking? What circles are you in?

For people you see every week.

Past How was the weekend? Get up to anything last night? How was the holiday?
Plans Any plans tonight? Are you doing anything this weekend? Any plans for the holiday?
School How are classes going? Have you chosen your seminar?
Work How's work going? How's job hunting going?
Weather Hot, isn't it?

For when those questions get boring

See ask good questions

Short follow-up questions

What kind? How much? How many? How often?

How was it? Then what? What else?

Where? Who with? When? Why?

C) Change the topic

D) Fill your silence

While you are speaking, use words like this to fill silences

Any time Beginning Middle End
Ummmmm It's like... sorta , right?
Uh Well... kinda , ok?
Er See... like , yknow?
I mean, ... , yeah?

You can also just stretch sounds ("I think you shouuuuuuuuld read more")

E) Backchannel

While you are listening, use backchannels (相槌)

I'm listening
I'm happy for you I agree I'm surprised Other meanings
Mm-Hmm Good Exactly Woah! Ugh
Uh-huh Great Definitely What! Oh no!
yeah/yep Excellent True You're kidding! Oops!
OK Cool Right Nah! Huh?
I see Wow Sure Really?!
Got it.

F) Finish

Finishing a conversation has four parts:

1) Start to say goodbye 2) Give a reason 3) Promise to contact 4) Actual goodbye
Oh, look at the time My bus is coming. See you next week Cheerio (UK)
Sorry, I have to go. Class is starting. Send me an email Bye
Got to run. Someone's at the door I'll call you/Call me. Bye then

Full example

A: Hey, how's it going?

B: Not bad, you?

A: OK. Get up to anything last weekend?

B: Uhhh....I went to the park and had a BBQ.

A: Really?

B: Rained, though.


B: How about you?

A: I had too much homework, so I uhhhh studied all weekend



B: Sorry, I have to go. Class is starting.

A: OK. Call me about karaoke next week.

B: Will do. Cheerio!

A: Bye!

Your turn!

A: Hey, How/What...

B: Good/Not much

A: OK.

ABABAB CONVERSATION - don't forget fillers and aizuchi!

B: Sorry, .

A: OK. _

B: Cheerio!

A: Bye!