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Speaking: 3.2. Small talk


Table of contents

1. What is small talk

2. Starting a conversation

3. Responses

4. Examples

5. Learning tips!

6. Glossary


“From small beginnings come great things”.

Unit:  1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9


1. What is small talk?

According to the Cambridge University “small talk” is a short conversation about things that are not important, often between people who do not know each other well. You might not always enjoy making conversation with completestrangers throughout your working day, but it can be very helpful to build up your clientele.


2. Starting a conversation

Imagine you have a new customer and he or she wants to make small talk. How would you start a conversation?


a) Talking about the weather

Helpful questions and phrases you can use:

Beautiful day, isn’t it?

How about this weather?

I’d like you to Mr John Kay.

It looks like it’s going to rain.

Can you believe all that heat we’ve got?

Terrible weather today, isn’t it?

Nice day to be outside, isn’t it?

We couldn’t ask for a nicer day, could we?


b) Talking about the family

Helpful questions and phrases you can use:

How old is your baby?

What’s your son’s/daughter’s name?

What’s your dog’s name?

How do you like the new children’s playground?

How long have you lived in this area?

Do you have any plans for the weekend?

Do you have any children?

Are you married?


3. Possible responses

Look at the expressions below you can use to respond with interest.


Helpful questions and phrases you can use:

Oh yes.

Oh really?

That’s interesting.

I didn’t know that.

That’s alright.

That’s alright.

How terrible/horrible!

How amazing!


4. Example

Here is an example you can practise making small talk. In this conversation, we initiated the conversation with the client you familiar with.  However, sometimes you will not have anything to talk about.  In order to keep the conversation alive, you should think about topics such as the weather or family.



Hi, Mary. What can I do for you today?


Oh, Hi. I’d like to color my hair.


No problem. Right this way, please. How are you doing?


I’m doing fine. How about you?


Not too bad. The weather is great, isn’t?


Yes. It’s absolutely beautiful today.


I wish it would be always this way.


Me too.


So, do you have to work today?


No. I’m going to buy some present for my father-in-law.


What’s the occasion?


It’s his 46th birthday.


That’s great!

(After you’ve finished with her hair)


So, how does it look?


Mm, looks fantastic. I love the color. Thanks a lot.


Any time. Enjoy your day.


Thanks. You too.


5. Learning tips!

Remember to smile and keep good eye contact when you are speaking to someone. This shows you are interested.


6. Glossary

H: = Hairdresser

C: = Client


nothing = nada

though = aunque, sin embargo

to think  = pensar

to make = hacer, fabricar

small talk = charla

to pass the time = pasar el tiempo

to avoid = evitar

awkwardness = torpeza

friendship = amistad

relationship = relación, Amistad

to build = construir

meaningful = significativo, útil

bond = conexión

vital skill = habilidad vital

response = respuesta

learning tip = consejo de aprendizaje

according to = según

about = sobre

often = a menudo

each other = el uno al otro

might not = tal vez no

stranger = desconocido

throughout = a lo largo de

build up = construir (phrasal verb)

clientele = grupo de clientes, clientela

to imagine = imaginar

to want + (to infinitive) = querer

weather ( tiempo

helpful = útil

to use = usar

beautiful = ermoso/a

how about = qué tal si

it looks like = parece que

to believe = creer, entender

heat = calor

below = abajo

to know = saber

how amazing = que incredible

to initiate = iniciar

familiar = familiar, conocido

however = sin embargo, no obstante

to talk = hablar

in order to = a fin de que, para, para que

to keep = mantener

alive = vivo

should = debería (consejo)

topic ( tema

to remember = recordar

to smile = sonreír, reír

to show = demonstrar

Unit:  1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    Return to top

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