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January 30, 2021

Making Small Talk - Video Material And Exercise

L
et's imagine you have just arrived at your office and are ready to start your shift. You meet your colleague of the previous shift whom you are going to replace. What would you say to be polite? Let's imagine again you are sitting in a waiting room, next to a stranger. How would you start conversation in order to break the uncomfortable and awkward silence?

Yes, you need small talk.

What is small talk?

To be short, small talk refers to "basa-basi" in Bahasa Indonesia. It is a social conversation about unimportant and uncontroversial matters, which helps manage interpersonal distance and define the relationships between friends, colleagues, and new acquaintances.

We make small talk when we want to avoid uncomfortable silence and talk to someone we have never met before, or a colleague in order to appear polite and friendly and create a positive interaction. Small talk serves many social functions, such as conversation opener, conversation closing, and silence filler.

Small talk topics should be universal, positive, and situational to enable the conversation to flow naturally. Common small talk topics may range from the weather, sports, entertainment, introduction, occupation, and common interests.

To help you with clearer and more practical understanding of small talk, watch the video below and do the following exercise.

Answer the following questions by choosing the correct answer; A, B, C, or D.
  1. How did the man start the conversation?
    1. By asking the woman's name and nationality
    2. By asking the woman's favorite weather
    3. By creating small talk about the weather
    4. By telling the woman about his hard day
  2. What did the woman think about the weather?
    1. It was a sign that summer had started.
    2. The weather had been oficially forecast.
    3. The officials said that summer was hot.
    4. It didn't look like summer had started.
  3. What did the man say he wanted to buy?
    1. Sun glasses
    2. Sun roof
    3. Some blocks
    4. Sun block
  4. The man said, "My name is John, by the way."
    From the dialogue, we may conclude that the phrase "by the way" can be used to ....
    1. clarify that an information may have been wrongly perceived
    2. introduce a topic not directly connected with the previous subject
    3. confirm a very important information in an informal conversation
    4. ask about a very casual topic in a formal or non-formal conversation
  5. How did they greet each other in their introduction?
    1. Nice to miss you.
    2. Nights to meet you.
    3. Nice to me, too.
    4. Nice to meet you.
  6. What do we know about the woman's origin?
    1. She lives around the area.
    2. They both live in Hokkaido.
    3. She will move to Hokkaido.
    4. She is from an Asian country.
  7. What did she say about the weather in Hokkaido?
    1. It's warmer in Hokkaido.
    2. It's much colder in Hokkaido.
    3. Hokkaido is not as cold as that.
    4. Hokkaido is colder than before.
  8. What did the man say about the weather in his hometown?
    1. It has a little rain.
    2. It's very windy.
    3. It's hotter when it rains.
    4. It often rains.
  9. The man said, "I'm not used to these summer temperatures."
    What did he imply?
    1. He usually lived in a much colder place.
    2. He cannot do many activities in summer.
    3. The temperature in summer is usual.
    4. He likes summer temperatures more.
  10. What does the woman like to do in summer?
    1. She likes running into the sea.
    2. She likes to take her dog for jogging.
    3. She likes to spend time at the beach.
    4. She usually allows her dog to go out.
  11. What does the man usually do in his hometown during summer?
    1. If it's sunny, he meets up with his friends in a bar.
    2. He spends time sunbathing in a parking lot.
    3. He travels around London to see nice parks.
    4. He often has picnic in the park on sunny days.
  12. Has the woman been to London before?
    1. Yes, she has.
    2. Yes, to visit museums.
    3. No, never.
    4. No, she doesn't want to.
  13. What did the woman want to visit in London?
    1. The beach
    2. The park
    3. The museums
    4. The football game
  14. According to the man, what do the people in his hometown mostly do at the weekend?
    1. They play football with their team.
    2. They play football video games.
    3. They go to their favorite teams.
    4. They watch football games.
  15. Why did the woman relate to "baseball" in the conversation?
    1. To tell which Japanese baseball teams are popular
    2. To describe her favorite sports when she is in Japan
    3. To imply that both games are super popular in Japan
    4. To give information about equally popular sports
  16. In chronological order, the topic of the conversation can be defined as ....
    1. the weather, place of origin, sports, summer activities
    2. the weather, place of origin, summer activities, sports
    3. the weather, place of origin, names, favorite sports
    4. the season, names, activities, personal sports
  17. Based on the dialogue, which of the following statements is FALSE?
    1. The speakers have never met before.
    2. The speakers are probably tourists.
    3. They come from different countries.
    4. They both have the same preference.
  18. What do you think the speakers are most probably doing?
    1. They are making a business trip.
    2. They are meeting new colleagues
    3. They are studying about the weather.
    4. They are enjoying their vacation.
  19. Which of the following topics is best to continue the conversation?
    1. The beaches in London
    2. Favorite sports
    3. Religions
    4. Political view
  20. Which of the following is NOT true about "small talk"?
    1. It is a polite way to start a conversation.
    2. It is mostly about uncontroversial matters.
    3. The topic is often popular and unimportant.
    4. It is effective in political and job interviews.
Video source:
Small Talk | Making Small Talk | Everyday English, YouTube, uploaded by Learn English by Pocket Passport, Jul 6, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVzLd304keA
For more resources on small talk, you can refer to the following pages:

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