The art of conversation, once considered the sign of a civilized individual, seems less common today. Yet I treasure the moments of sharing experiences, collecting news, and exchanging ideas. I make a point of knowing my neighbors, allowing casual greetings to become long conversations, and making time to explore in depth the feelings and perceptions of friends and relatives. These natural conversations provide information, encouragement, laughs, and pleasure.
Many people say that they are too busy to have long talks. Other people prefer to watch television, play computer games, or listen to the radio rather than talk to relatives and friends. Sometimes people feel too shy to speak to others next to them. We may have forgotten how to hold good, deep conversations, or even a friendly chat on the phone. I suspect this lack of «real communication» lessens our daily joy.
Of course, people learning English as a second, third, or fourth language face even more barriers to a satisfying conversation. First, English may remain a confusing, difficult or/and strange language. It’s easy to feel uncomfortable when speaking in this new tongue. What questions do I ask? How can I keep a conversation going? What vocabulary words are needed? How do I show agreement, or disagreement, in a lively, yet polite way? How can I share my experiences in a clear manner? How can I have better, more engaging conversations in English?
Anyway, as a non-native English speaker I believe that learning by doing, and making good mistakes is the best way. By «Good mistakes» I mean natural and inevitable ones that help us learn so we can make different and better next time. Speaking English naturally is possible, and as I’ve said before, it’s just a matter of practice. By the way, if you don’t have enough contact with people who can actually speak English, our Speaking Clubs can help out!