Smalltalk isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The aim of this post is not to tell you smalltalk is bad. However, when it comes to starting a language exchange, it’s important you take learning seriously right from the start and put all chances on your side. To do so, you probably want things to get to the upper level. If you start with a mere “Hi, how are you? What are you doing?”, chances are your language exchange is not going to last that long. Some users won’t even bother answering you, because they already receive so many requests of this type.
If you want to make a difference, this post is for you!
Some of you might find it intimidating to talk to strangers and get deeper in the conversation right away. At Speaky we understand that and would love to give you some guidance on how to engage conversation for the first time… And get results.
We conducted a research among our community in order to know how they liked to be addressed for the first time. Here’s what we got!
#1 Be friendly
It’s always nice to start your first message with a friendly greeting, isn’t it? I know this might sound obvious, but just think about the way you would like to be approached.
#2 Be personal
Tell people why you contacted them specifically. You and your potential language partner might have common interests!
#3 Be respectful
Keep in mind that people might think differently than you do. If you feel very strongly about an issue or topic (especially religious or political), refrain from talking about it in a radical way right from the start.
#3 Ask questions!
There are several good reasons to ask questions:
- it shows your language partner you’re interested in him/her
- it feeds the conversation and brings up new topics you can discuss as the conversation goes on
Here are a few examples:
- what do you do with your days?
- what do you do for fun?
- has anything ever changed your life / the way you viewed the world?
Maybe you noticed these are not questions that can be answered by just “yes” or “no”. It’s best to ask follow-up questions in order to keep the conversation going 🙂
Avoid too personal topics. As both of you get to know each other, you’ll feel more confident about more personal topic, which will come up naturally 🙂
#4 Offer your help
If you’re willing to offer some help in your native language, don’t forget to mention it. Your language partner will probably appreciate you care about bringing them something in return.
#5 Be fun
A pinch of humor never hurt anyone. If you were born with a strong sense of humor but think language exchange can become too serious, make it fun!
As you go along your language-learning journey, you’ll notice humor sometimes differs from one language / culture to the other. Learn how to poke fun in another language 🙂
Over to you
Any other advice on how to start a conversation on Speaky and keep it going? Please share your strategies with us in the discussion!