5 Tips for Starting a Conversation with a Stranger

How Can I Start a Conversation with a Stranger?

If you are trying to learn English, more than anything else, you want to talk with native speakers. It’s usually easy to speak with store workers, but it seems much harder to speak with strangers. How can you start a conversation with someone you don’t know? Here are five tips.

1. Use the Environment
Are you outside? If so, talk about the weather. “It’s really rainy, isn’t it?” “Wow, is it ever cold!” “Man, am I hot!” “The wind is crazy today!” Simple observations like these are an easy way to get someone talking.

If you’re on a bus or train, maybe you both can see something beautiful or strange from the window. Comment on it. “The city looks so pretty at night,” “The clouds are amazing today,” or “Look at that crazy bike.”

bball palyer

Let this man point the way. Make a statement that shows interest and knowledge like, “Steph Curry is my hero.” or “Wasn’t the game last night close?” (Photo credit: Forbes)

2. Notice Something & Use It as a Springboard
Is your seatmate on the train or bus wearing a sports team sweatshirt? If so, then you can ask questions like, “Are you a fan?” or “Have you ever been to one of their games?” You can also make a statement that shows interest and knowledge like, “Steph Curry is my hero. Can you believe how athletic he is?” “Wasn’t the game last night close?”

If they have an accessory you like, compliment it or ask a question: “I like your ring. Is it jade?” “Nice scarf. Is it handmade?” or “Cool boots. They look great for the weather.” Does the person have an interesting tattoo? Say so. “Your tattoo is amazing. Did you get it done here? Does it hurt to get one?”

If they have a book in hand, you can ask: “Are you a student? Where do you study?” “I saw the movie. Is the book better?” “Is it any good?” “What’s your favorite bookstore in town?”

3. Coo Over Kids & Pets
Children and dogs are easy conversation starters. Parents and dog-owners love it when you tell them how cute their little ones are. “What a great looking dog!” “Your baby is so cute.” “How old is s/he?” “What’s his name?” (You can ask to pet the dog, but don’t touch a child.)

PELA Student Making Conversation

A PELA student visits with locals. Advice: Find someone with time to talk, make eye contact, smile, and try one of our suggestions.

4. Reach Out to Seniors
Often, the elderly have more time to talk. You may find them eager for conversation. They have a lot of life experience and empathy. Let them share it. Make eye contact with senior citizens, smile, and try one of the techniques above.

5. Finally, Don’t Get Discouraged
Sometimes even if you do all the right things, people still don’t want to talk. Don’t take it personally. Maybe they’re tired after work. Maybe they’re shy. Maybe they’re unfriendly. Try again next time. Try to speak with one new person every day. The more you try, the more success you will have.

You can watch this video to get more advice on how to meet new people.