Peter Harrison
Things to talk about on Skype

(Note: I've chosen "Japanese" for this discussion but anyone can answer for learning any language.)


When you are good at speaking a new language, it's easy to talk about things. But I think a lot of italki users are starting a new language and are practising on Skype for the first time.


What do you think beginners should talk about? Can you suggest good topics for beginners?


Obviously I would recommend introductions first. Most people learn introductions very early in their studies. But what other topics are good? Where you live? What you like to do for fun? What your plans are for the summer?

May 20, 2014 12:59 PM
Comments · 7

I usually talk about my school, study, mood and feeling. Also, current events in both your country and Japan (you see, Japan has many earthquakes, so you can talk about that when an earthquake occur!), weather, Any special events like festivals and national holidays...etc. Besides your questions about language, culture and things you have read or heard in Japanese. Of course it depends on your Japanese level, but even if you can't say some sentences, you can say them in English (mostly the other person is learning English, so he/she will be happy) and the other person can tell you how to say them in Japanese. 

May 20, 2014

It's inevitable that people will ask you about your language learning, so you might as well brainstorm a list of questions people might ask you (like, "Why are you learning Japanese? How long have you been studying it? Have you been to Japan?"), translate them into Japanese, and then decide how you would answer them in Japanese. At first you can role play both questions and answers by yourself--pretending someone is asking you these questions and you're answering them--playing both roles yourself. Then, when you converse with someone new on Skype, they will ask you questions like these eventually, and you can be ready to answer them. Later, do the same thing with other everyday subjects (family, work or school, your city, your hobbies, etc.).


When I lived in South Korea, I noticed that strangers (such as taxi drivers) would ask me a lot of personal questions in Korean that would be odd or rude in the US: Are you married? How old are you? etc. I was only a beginner in Korean, but I wrote down and memorized my answers, then memorized key words so I could guess which question they were asking me. I could then fake my way through these conversations.


Two YouTube videos could be helpful to you on this topic: "How to Speak a Foreign Language More Fluently" by Chris Parker and "How I practice Japanese reading" by Jan vanderAa. Even though the second video is about reading, you can adapt the techniques to beginners' conversation.


If you have the money, you can combine "Teach Yourself Japanese" (or whatever language) together with the FLR Method Japanese course by Moses McCormick. I think they will help you start conversing in the language, making your initial Skype conversations go easier. I'm too advanced to use them in Japanese but I might use this approach later with Korean or another language.

May 20, 2014

Oh, trust me. You don't want to get started with self-introduction or questions like location, habits.

I‘ve been there. It's horrible.


I have troubles in bringing up topics as well, but I'm evolving.


I never ask questions like "what are you doing", "what are you up to" "how's your day" blablabla.


Argh...I swear I do want to give you some advice, and I got a lot of ideas but's just so hard to put it together...


oh, I share my akward moments with them.

May 20, 2014

Do you know Conor Maynard? I really want to know more about him .You know ,there are little about him on the net in my country .So could you ?Thank you so much

May 20, 2014

Well, I think you are right.

Both of you. :)

May 20, 2014
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