The most important ability for speaking a foreign language

Being a good conversationalist is much more complex than being able to speak a language. Everyone can have a conversation but some people bore you half to death while others are fascinating and fun to talk to.

A conversation works two ways, give and take, listen and respond. 

Speaking can be hard without this top tip…

It can be hard to keep up a conversation in a foreign language. You might lack vocabulary, confidence or just spend too much time thinking before you speak.

But with a bit of preparation, you can put yourself in the position of a good listener. And a good listener is an important part of being a great conversationalist.

The key to keeping up a conversation is being able to ask questions.

Improve your Vietnamese conversation ability by asking more questions

Top speaking tip: Ask people about themselves

Everyone likes talking about themselves or sharing their opinion. Even if your language is limited, with a few of the right questions up your sleeve, you could have a long conversation.

Some people are generally talkative. You can ask them anything and they’ll talk and talk. For other people, you have to hit the right topic. Find what interests them – their passion – and ask them about it.

Quiet man - until you ask him the right questions
Ask him about the right topic and he’ll light right up

It’s a skill finding the topic that makes someone’s eyes light up. But the great thing about skills is that they can be practised.

How to ask more questions the next time you speak Vietnamese

Listening to someone talk, sending the right signals with your reactions and asking good questions on what they’re telling you about, will leave them with a very positive impression of you and they’ll be willing to talk to you again and again.

A little homework for you this week.

  1. If you struggle asking questions, make a list of 5-10 questions you could ask someone the next time conversation runs dry.
  2. When you watch films or TV or listen to conversations this week, take note of how they ask questions. Try to pick up on natural ways to ask questions in Vietnamese – eg. something new to you or something you rarely say.

Over to you: Do you ask a lot of questions when you speak Vietnamese?

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