It can be difficult to keep a conversation going. Even if you understand what the other person is saying, you can feel “blocked” or “frozen” when it’s your turn to speak. The words or phrases you need don’t often come quickly enough to mind.
The more opportunities you can get to use and speak English, the easier it is to find the right words when you need them. Take every chance you get to use your English!
But there are other ways to help keep the conversation along. The “secret” is that you don’t actually need many words to do this!
Here are some ways to make you sound like a fluent, confident speaker of English without saying very much:
1. Show interest in the other speaker
You don’t need to say much. Often just one word is needed to show you are interested and listening. Try “Really?” (with a rising intonation), “Right” or “Sure”. You could even show you are listening with a non-word such as “Mmm” or Uh-huh”.
“I hate watching rubbish on the TV.”
2. Use a short phrase to show your feelings
For example, “How awful”, “Oh no!”, “You’re joking”, “What a pity” etc.
“My neighbour had a car accident yesterday.”
“Yes, but thankfully he wasn’t hurt.”
3. Ask a short question
You can use an auxiliary verb to make a short question which will encourage the other speaker to keep talking:
“We tried out the new Chinese restaurant last night.”
“I’m going to Barbados next week on holiday.”
“Are you? Lucky you!”
“It’s snowing again.”
4. Repeat what the other person said
Do this especially if the other person has said something surprising.
“He won £200 on the lottery.”
“I’m going to Barbados next week.”