Mastering small talk

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Functional language - small talk

People making small talk in English

LESSON OVERVIEW

In this lesson students practise their listening skills with an engaging video about making small talk in English, learn several phrasal verbs and sharpen their small talk skills through a series of speaking activities.

B2 / Upper Intermediate60 minStandard LessonUnlimited Plan

WARM-UP & VOCABULARY

The warm-up starts with five sentences related to small talk, followed by five gapped phrases explaining the purpose of each sentence. Students’ task is to complete each phrase with one word from a box. Then, they look at a definition of small talk and discuss how the sentences from the first activity might be linked to it. Next, they move on to another set of gapped sentences. They have to come up with the missing prepositions and then brainstorm the synonyms of the phrasal verbs they’ve created (e.g. reach out – contact). Finally, students decide whether they agree or disagree with a few statements concerning small talk and justify their opinions. 

VIDEO & LISTENING COMPREHENSION

As a pre-listening task, students discuss five questions about small talk. Then, they watch a video with tips on how to improve this skill and check their answers. They move on to the second listening activity which consists of eight sentences which they have to complete with one missing word each. First, students try to recall the words and then watch the video to check their answers. The listening part is followed by a discussion about the video and leads to the speaking practice. Students choose two topics from a box (e.g. entertainment, food) and create a small talk question for each one. They pair up, ask their partners their questions and have to keep the conversation going for as long as they can. 

PRACTISING SMALL TALK IN ENGLISH

To make this lesson as close to real life as possible, you may want to finish it with a role play. Students need to imagine they’re at a wedding party making small talk in English with a guest they’ve just met. They’re given two phrases (there are eight sets of the phrases to choose from) which they have to use during their conversation as casually as possible. Finally, they try to guess which two phrases were on their partner’s card. The lesson plan ends with an additional speaking activity for students to revise the vocabulary they’ve learnt. They have to tell each other what they remember from the video, crossing out the words from a box until they’ve used up all of them.

WORKSHEETS

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  1. Natasha Bergen

    YES! Can you read my mind?! I’ve had at least 5 students come to me in the last month asking for practice with small talk 🙂 Thaaaaaank you!

    1. Justa

      Ha ha, that’s perfect! Maybe some of your students are dreading meeting strangers and making small talk at weddings ? Good luck with your classes!

  2. victoria busby

    Great lesson plan. I did it today and it worked really well. The last paired talk activity is hilarious. Love it! Thank you!

    1. Ewa

      Thanks for your feedback 🙂 Planning that last activity was actually a lot of fun for me too 🙂

  3. Elis F. Pinheiro

    Thank you so much for the content. The whole website is life saver!

    1. Ewa

      Thanks, Elis. It means a lot 🙂

  4. Emilie Boyd

    Hi, great lesson thank you! Do you have a transcript of the video please?

    1. Stan

      You can find a very good-quality transcript on YouTube. If you don’t know how to access it there, use the guide linked here.

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