Boost Your English-Unlock The Power Of Small Talk Ep 648

Two young people chatting in a corridor at work. Become a pro in British small talk - learn to charm in every chat.

📝 Author: Hilary

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💬 3988 words ▪️ ⏳ Reading Time 20 min

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Learn To Use Small Talk To Kickstart Your English Conversations!

Hate small talk? You may be missing key social opportunities! Blast past language barriers with our English fluency small talk lesson! ⚡️ Fluency isn't just grammar - it's a **cocktail of grammar, vocabulary, accent, and yes, SMALL TALK!**🗣️ Enhance your connections with meaningful conversations! Start today with our podcast. #ElevateEnglish

Discover how easy English conversations can become when you've mastered the art of small talk.

  • 🎯 Get straight to the heart of British English.
  • 🚀 Elevate your language skills to new heights.
  • 🤝 Become a pro at creating meaningful connections.
  • 🌍 Open up a world of new social opportunities.

Because, the secret to English fluency isn't just in textbooks. It's in every hello, how are you, and nice weather today, isn't it? It's time to unlock small talk and elevate your English.

Small talk is an important part of socializing... it's an opening to something larger.
⭐ Judith Martin (Miss Manners), an American journalist, author, and etiquette authority.

✔Lesson transcript:

This lesson unlocks your ability to chat easily in English, boosting confidence and enabling deeper connections. Not just about language, it's about expressing YOU and building global friendships - a truly rewarding journey. You'll be diving into practical, real-life English conversations, helping you to break down any psychological barriers you may have about speaking English fluently.

And you're not only going to learn the language here; you're going to live it. The more exposure you have, the more comfortable you'll get. Imagine being able to understand different accents, cultural nuances, colloquial phrases, all of that! It's like travelling the world without leaving your house.

Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.
⭐ Anne Morrow Lindbergh, acclaimed American author and aviator.

And the best part? You'll enjoy it! You're going to love English, and that love will make the learning process a lot easier and far more effective. So come on, let's start this journey. You're one lesson away from a whole new world of opportunities. Ace the art of British 'small talk' with our latest lesson! #EnglishConfidence

More About This Lesson

Master the Art of Fluent English and Boost Your Life: Are you keen to shine in English conversations and leave a lasting impression? This comprehensive lesson is designed just for you, focusing on the often overlooked art of 'small talk' in English. This isn't just about language learning; it's about experiencing the language and building global friendships.

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
⭐ George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright and co-founder of the London School of Economics.

Things you will learn in today's English listening lesson:

  1. The purpose of small talk purpose.
  2. How small talk is polite and eases conversation.
  3. That small talk can leave a lasting impression.
  4. Small talk is useful both in personal and professional life.
  5. Common small talk topics: weather, work, family, current events, travel, food.
  6. Small talk is a stepping stone to deeper conversation.
  7. Small talk can help combat social anxiety.
  8. Avoid personal, sensitive topics in small talk.
  9. Listening and practising small talk can aid in fluency.
  10. 'Small talk' definition and situations where it occurs.
  11. Discussion on being a 'foodie' and cuisines.
  12. Using small talk to find common ground.
  13. Link between small talk and building trust.
  14. Handling small talk if you're not fond of it.
  15. Importance of being prepared for small talk.
  16. Tips for avoiding offensive small talk topics.

Benefits of our listen & learn approach to learning

The benefits of this lesson extend beyond language skills to personal and professional life enhancement:

  • Confidence: Master small talk in English and chat easily, impressing peers with your confidence.
  • Understanding: Gain exposure to different English accents, cultural nuances, and colloquial phrases.
  • Enjoyment: Learn to love English, making the learning process easier and more effective.
  • Opportunities: Open up a world of opportunities with your improved English skills.

Consider these key points when engaging in our English language lessons:

  • Mistakes are Learning Opportunities: A safe, supportive environment to practice and improve your English.
  • Understanding Native Speakers: Exposure to various English accents and phrases.
  • Continuous Growth: Stimulating lessons to challenge your boundaries and promote growth.
  • Clear Communication: Focus on clarity and pronunciation, enhancing your ability to express thoughts.
  • Rich Vocabulary: Build your vocabulary and learn idiomatic expressions for engaging conversations.

English isn't just about the language; it's about the culture. Small talk is a significant part of British culture, and mastering it helps to build relationships, enhance professional opportunities, and boosts language proficiency. With our lessons, you'll not only gain practical usage of the language but also experience increased feelings of belonging and happiness.

The art of conversation is the art of hearing as well as of being heard.
⭐ William Hazlitt, English writer and literary critic.

Don't just learn English, become English. Turn every conversation into an opportunity. Subscribe to our podcast today and start your journey towards mastering the art of English small talk, your gateway to sounding native!

Questions You Might Have...

Imagine small talk as the key to the grand castle of conversation. This castle is filled with rooms representing various subjects. Taboo topics are the rooms with locked doors, while suitable subjects are inviting rooms, filled with light and colour. Through this lesson, you'll learn how to navigate these rooms with ease and confidence, unlocking more meaningful connections as you traverse the corridors of English social interactions.

  1. What is 'small talk' in British English? 'Small talk' is casual conversation about non-controversial subjects, often used when meeting someone for the first time or to fill in gaps in conversation.
  2. How can 'small talk' enhance my social confidence? Mastering 'small talk' can boost your social confidence. It gives you tools to initiate and maintain conversations, making you feel more comfortable in social situations.
  3. How can I avoid taboo topics during 'small talk'? The lesson provides insights into common taboo topics and teaches strategies to steer conversations towards safe subjects, ensuring a pleasant and respectful interaction.
  4. How will this lesson help me make more meaningful connections? This lesson equips you with the skills to engage others in pleasant conversations, promoting understanding and creating opportunities for deeper relationships.
  5. Is this lesson suitable for all levels of English learners? Yes, this lesson is crafted to benefit English learners at all levels. It helps improve your spoken English fluency, regardless of your current skill level.

Most Unusual Words:

  • Quintessential: Represents the most perfect example of a class or quality.
  • Serendipity: Occurrence of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
  • Flabbergasted: Extremely surprised or shocked; astounded.
  • Gobbledygook: Language that is meaningless or hard to understand.
  • Lollygag: To spend time aimlessly; to dawdle.
  • Malarkey: Nonsense or meaningless talk.
  • Kerfuffle: A commotion or fuss, especially caused by conflicting views.
  • Skulduggery: Underhand, unscrupulous, or dishonest behaviour or activities.
  • Lackadaisical: Lacking enthusiasm and determination; carelessly lazy.
  • Flummox: To perplex (someone) greatly; to bewilder.

Most Frequently Used Words:


Listen To The Audio Lesson Now

The mp3 audio and pdf transcript for this lesson is now part of the Adept English back catalogue . You can still download and listen to this lesson as part of one of our podcast bundles.

Transcript: Boost Your English-Unlock the Power of Small Talk

A podcast on ‘making small talk in English’

Hi there. By listening to this podcast, you'll gain practical skills in mastering English 'small talk', expand your range of conversation topics, and learn what subjects to avoid to ensure you have a nice conversation. Navigate social situations more confidently, make better connections with people, whether that’s in your personal or your professional life, through the art of meaningful 'small talk'. Suitable topics? Good questions? So if you want to move your English into being sociable and ‘making conversations, this podcast will help you do that.

And while you might be eager to dive into 'small talk', do you know which topics you should avoid in English-speaking cultures? If not, you definitely want to stay tuned until the end of this podcast. I'll be sharing what are UNsuitable topics for ‘small talk’ conversation, which may even amuse you! So, make sure you listen right through to the end, to avoid ‘embarrassing small talk topics’.

Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.

What is small talk?

OK, first of all, let’s define ‘small talk’. What is it? Well, ‘small talk’ is the kind of conversation that people have when they first meet, when they don’t really know one another. ‘Small talk’ also happens between people who do know each other, but who perhaps haven’t seen each other for a while. Even people who are close friends or family, will probably start a conversation with ‘small talk’ before getting into more in-depth subjects. ‘Small talk’ has a number of purposes. It helps you get to know someone better, especially when you’ve just met. It ‘builds rapport’ - that’s RAPPORT. ‘Rapport’ means ‘the feeling of a good relationship’, so building ‘rapport is important. ‘Small talk’ plays a part in making a relationship with another person. ‘Small talk’ is polite and aimed at making the other person more comfortable. Research tells us that small talk helps to build rapport and trust, which can lead to better performance and reduce people’s anxiety.

Boost Your Learning With Adept English

Small talk isn't just chatter; it's the first step in relationship building

Just think about if you’re having a party, then as you welcome each guest into your house, this is much more successful, if you make ‘small talk’ with each person as they arrive, as you welcome them. And have you ever thought about how a simple small talk conversation can leave a lasting impression, making you more memorable to other people? You make an impact on them - and that’s useful. So small talk may happen when people meet socially, just for enjoyment or to be sociable. But have you ever thought about how much small talk can impact your work relationships and your opportunities there? Again, if you want to make a positive impression, then ‘small talk’ is necessary in order to ‘get the feel of a person’ and for that person to ‘get a feel’ for you. Then you may be prepared to start to build trust and ‘do business together’. Also a purpose of small talk is to find what we call ‘common ground’ - meaning places where your interests are similar - so that you can enjoy talking together about those interests. And have you ever wondered why some people love small talk and are good at it - and some people really don’t like ‘small talk’? Whether you love it or hate it, it’s still important to be able to do it. For those who dislike ‘small talk’ because they’d rather talk about more interesting things, then ‘small talk’ is just a ‘stepping stone’, ‘a bridge’ if you like to more interesting, in-depth conversation.

Being good at small talk helps social anxiety

And learning to be good at ‘small talk’ is important if you suffer from what we call in English, ‘social anxiety’ - that’s SOCIAL and anxiety, ANXIETY. ‘Anxiety’ is ‘worry’ in other words. And this ‘social anxiety’ is specifically ‘worry about social interaction’ - the fear of meeting and talking with new people. If you find yourself anxious about this, about talking to new people, then this is another reason why practising small talk can really help you.

And what are suitable topics for ‘small talk’? What do people in English speaking cultures consider small talk? So there are a number of usual topics and I’ll run through them - and give you some examples of questions or conversations around these topics. This is a practical, easy-to-use piece of advice on ‘small talk’ for English learners, giving you specific questions and phrases you can use in real-life situations. Here goes with an obvious one to start with! I’ll give you six different topics.

1. Topic for small talk - The weather

You might be surprised to learn that talking about the weather isn't just a British thing; it's actually a universal piece of small talk. Whether you're in the UK, the US, Canada, or Australia, starting a conversation with a comment about the weather is very common and acceptable. It's not just about the climate, it's about connecting! But this is a very British thing to talk about - and I’ve done podcasts before on ‘weather conversation’. If you want more of that specifically, Adept English podcast number 620 is very popular and goes into more detail on this topic - lots of phrases and vocabulary for you to use. The weather is useful if you’re only going to have a very quick conversation - perhaps it’s with the person who’s on the checkout at the supermarket? Then ‘Isn’t it lovely weather we’re having?’ Or ‘Are you doing anything nice at the weekend - I think the sun’s out?’ - that may be a good way to go. Or sometimes in the UK, ‘Have you seen the rain?’ Or ‘Oh my goodness, it’s so cold today!’

Are you ready for some more valuable small talk tips?

2. Topic for small talk - Work

For a more ‘getting to know you’ type of small talk, ‘work’ is usually a good topic. And if you find that the person you’re talking isn’t working at the moment, then showing interest in what they’re doing instead is polite. They may be taking time out because they’ve got small children for example. So showing interest in people’s jobs is a good way of doing small talk. ‘What’s your job?’, ‘How long have you been doing that? ‘Where do you want to be in five years time in your career?’, ‘Do you like your job?’ and if so, ‘Why?’ And of course, you need to have prepared what you would answer to each of these questions as well. Small talk is all about ‘back and forth’. It’s you talking about you and the other person talking about them. That goes, I guess, for any type of conversation really, but you perhaps need to be ‘prepared’. What are you prepared to share about yourself?

3. Topic for small talk - Friends and Family

Another good topic for ‘small talk’ is a person’s family - and if you know them better, perhaps also their friends. You may already know what the person’s family situation is - or you may discover it in your small talk conversation. Does the person have children? Are they married? If you both have small children, or even children who’re going to university, that’s immediately ‘something in common’, a similar experience or situation that you might want to spend some minutes talking about. Perhaps even does the person have pets? You may discover that you both like cats for instance. Friends and family type conversations are also useful when you’re reconnecting with someone that you’ve made ‘small talk’ with before. You might say ‘Ah, I remember last time you were telling me about how your wife had set up a new business. How is it going?’ Or ‘I remember, your daughter is studying Law at university, isn’t she? How is it going - how is she doing?’


Two business women in a small talk conversation. Ready to transform your English skills? Subscribe now and soar with us.

©️ Adept English 2023

4. Topic for small talk - ‘Current Stuff’

By ‘current stuff’, I mean ‘what’s going on’. This might include small talk conversation about what’s happening in the news, things that have happened, current affairs, current issues perhaps. Or another popular ‘small talk’ conversation might be ‘What series are you watching at the moment?’ Whether that’s on Netflix, or Apple TV or even who you follow on Spotify or YouTube? Perhaps the conversation could be ‘What films have you seen lately?’ or ‘Have you read any good books lately?’ And this ‘current stuff’ conversation readily moves into ‘What types of series or films do you enjoy?’. One of my favourite conversations when I meet with my daughters - what series are you watching? So we share series which we’ve discovered and enjoyed - and often we watch a series on the other person’s recommendation. Sometimes we may even spend time ‘comparing notes’ if it’s a really good or long series, something worth discussing!

5. Topic for small talk - Travel

This is a topic that most people are interested in. Travel may include questions like ‘Do you travel with your work?’ or ‘What trips have you taken this year?’ or ‘Are you intending to get away this summer?’. So it may be a future-focused set of questions - what travel are you intending to do? What places are you intending to visit? Or the conversation could be about past trips, where have you been in the world. You and the other person may discover that there are places that you’ve both been to - and you find yourself ‘comparing notes’. That means talking about whether your experience was similar or different. And the conversation may even move towards discussing places that people recommend travelling to - or even where people perhaps recommend avoiding travelling to. Even those bad travel experiences can make entertaining ‘small talk’ conversation! Last but not least….

6. Topic for small talk - Food

Last of all - something that is present in everybody’s life, we all need to eat. But more interesting to talk about, if you are a ‘food enthusiast’. A ‘foodie’ perhaps we would call that in English - FOODIE means ‘someone who’s enthusiastic about food’. ‘What type of food do you prefer? What do you like to eat?’ ‘What’s your favourite food?’. You might discuss ‘cuisine’ - that’s CUISINE. And that means ‘cooking specific to a part of the world’. Which ‘cuisine’ is your favourite? In the UK, we like Indian food - or our own version of that I suppose, but you can also eat Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Lebanese, French, Thai, Japanese perhaps, in the form of sushi. Which of these we like best, that’s a suitable conversation and for many people, an enjoyable topic for ‘small talk’. You may even get onto recommending or discussing particular restaurants locally. And the other part of this conversation can be ‘What do you cook yourself?’ or ‘Are you a foodie?’ This type of conversation can also move into what you eat for your health as well.

Taboo topics for small talk in English speaking cultures?

So that gives you plenty of topics to make ‘small talk’ about, which will enable you to make good social connections with people In English. What are the topics which you generally want to avoid in ‘small talk’?

Well, many of these will be obvious and it’s probably the same in most cultures of the world. You wouldn’t generally talk about what we call ‘bodily functions’ - that means the ‘nitty gritty’ of personal hygiene or toilet habits, or say, how often you have sex. Those topics would be considered impolite in most places in the world. Another thing to avoid is asking questions which are too personal, too much personal detail - that’s a big no-no. And I think in English speaking cultures - the UK in particular - you would never ask someone ‘How much do you earn?’ That’s something we keep to ourselves, it’s deeply personal - and not something that’s usually openly discussed.

Listening Lessons

Religion and politics: strictly taboo in small talk or an unexplored opportunity?

Other topics to avoid if you’re just getting to know someone? Well, religion can be deeply ‘divisive’ - that’s DIVISIVE. And that adjective means ‘it divides people, people have very different and strong feelings about it’. And perhaps it’s the same with politics as well. In the UK, we don’t tend to discuss politics in ‘small talk’.

Download The Podcast Audio & Transcript

That type of discussion is much more likely to happen when people know each other well - and they’re already familiar with what each other’s politics are. Then it’s much less likely to give offence if they disagree. So even topics like Brexit or COVID are so ‘divisive’ - people have such different opinions about them, that you might want to save those topics until you’re beyond the ‘small talk’ and you really know the other person much better.


I hope that helps with making small talk in English. Let us know what you think! And if you’d like more information about social anxiety for example - I’d be happy to cover that in a future podcast - just let me know!

Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.

Thank you so much for listening. Please help me tell others about this podcast by reviewing or rating it. And, please share it on social media. You can find more listening lessons and a free English course at



The voice of Adeptenglish, loves English and wants to help people who want to speak English fluently.
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