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Unread Sep 21st, 2008, 08:43 pm
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Default Teaching Conversation Class

Using Conversational Grammar

To truly communicate, you must be able to use conversational grammar, which is different from standard grammar because it is based on how people actually talk. It features small chunks, mostly clauses and single words, as opposed to complete sentences. Here is an example.

Jack: Hi, what’s up?
Jane: Not much.
Jack: Headed to the bookstore?
Jane: Yeah. Have to buy my art course supplies.
Jack: Oh, good! Glad I ran into you! What do we have to buy?
Jane: Colored chalk, ah, sketch pad. Hmmm, charcoal sticks.

Introducing, Developing, and Changing Topics

Carrying on a conversation also requires speakers to introduce, develop, and change topics. This aspect of conversational management can be complex, the selection and development of a topic done through a process of negotiation. This includes opening a conversation with a formulaic expression such as What’s up? To get past this initial greeting and before going onto another topic, other conversational cues or “formulas” are needed; for example, you may ask the person if he or she is busy or free to talk, how much time he or she has, and what topic should be talked about.
In our own language it is natural to select topics to talk about with people we know and people we don’t know. But in another language, it is not easy to know how to do this- that is, what is safe to talk about and what isn’t. For example, many students who come to the United States to study English are hesitant to talk about a variety of different topics that as Americans we are comfortable talking with strangers about- values or social standards (in certain circumstances), personal or financial needs (in certain circumstances), of the health of the family or self. In many other countries, these topics are not generally discussed with strangers or acquaintances.
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