Writing and Speaking

Conversations For a Non-Native English Speaker – Part 2

Some time back I had written an article on teaching first generation speakers of the English Language basic conversation skills. I had focused on areas that they will need to be comfortable speaking in. These are listed below again.

In the primary block are:
1. Bank
2. Supermarket
3. Restaurant
4. Hospital

Next in order of importance:
1. Police
2. Railway Reservations
3. Air Tickets
4. Hotel Bookings

Not so important but can also be covered:
1. Post Office
2. Library
3. Office
4. Social Gathering

The questions related to Banks were related to:
1. Opening an Account
2. Accessing an existing Account
3. Making or receiving Money Transfers
4. Problems with ATM Cards
5. Cheque Book requests, etc

I decided to go some more in detail and frame possible situations and questions that they might face while in conversation with people in the remaining places.

So possible conversation topics, in each of the remaining eleven places will be expanded in this post. So without much ado let’s drive to the Supermarket. Questions at the Supermarket may include:
1. Finding the Food Aisle
2. Asking for the latest discounts on offer
3. Paying the Bill by cash or credit card
4. Finding the parking space
5. Help carrying the bags or asking for use of the trolley till the parking area

Questions at a Restaurant:
1. Asking for the Menu
2. Clarifying what a dish contains and how it is cooked
3. Ordering a meal
4. Ordering for accompanying drinks
5. Asking for the bill and paying it
6. Calling for the Chef and complimenting him

Questions at the Hospital:
1. Finding the relevant department by getting directions to it
2. Making an appointment with the doctor concerned on the phone
3. Describing symptoms accurately
4. Understanding the diagnosis and prognosis
5. Following the instructions for the medication
6. Requesting for follow up checks

This finishes our primary block. The next block consists of dealing with the various services first of which is the Police. Questions will depend on the situation. The policeman might be seeking you for some reason such as a traffic violation or you might be seeking his help to ask directions to your destination. Define the situation clearly first. For our example we are tackling reporting a missing wallet. Questions to be asked and answered:
1. Asking the nearest policeman for directions to the nearest police station.
2. Lodging a First Information Report.
3. Describing the wallet and its contents.
4. Giving residence and identity details.
5. Following up on the matter till resolved.

Now we come to Railway Reservations, Air Tickets and Hotel Bookings. Since most of the questions here are common I give a combined list of questions.
1. Getting the phone number or address of party concerned.
2. Making enquires about mode of transport to desired destination.
3. Making an informed choice and booking the tickets.
4. Asking for ticket confirmation.
5. Booking a room with specific requirements such as extra bed for child below eight years traveling with parents.

That finishes the second block of essential services and now we come to some more in the third block. Starting with the Post Office which is a place most visitors to a different country are likely to visit.
1. Asking for postage costs.
2. Weighing a letter.
3. Calculating postage and buying stamps.
4. Sending a parcel.
5. Savings options.

Traditionally there is to be little or no talking at the Library. Yet here we have situations where you will need to make some conversation with the librarian. Most students will use libraries extensively to counter the high costs of study books. Here is a list of questions to practice with.
1. Finding the library. Get directions.
2. Becoming a member.
3. Understanding library lending policies.
4. Finding a particular section in the library.
5. Issuing a book.
6. Late fine on returning a book late.
7. Damage to the book due to usage.

Office and Social Gatherings are the last of the situations that are mentioned here. These are very general topics and the situations that arise can be myriad. So it’s not possible to give a highly comprehensive list of questions. Here are a few basic ones that you will surely need.
1. Introducing yourself to others present.
2. Gathering information of the basic work required of you.
3. Dealing with clients.
4. Understanding Standard Operating Procedures.
5. Making Small Talk with others.

If you can get comfortable making these basic conversations your Spoken English Skills will get a major boost. So lets get Speaking.

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