I've been studying languages for a while and I always have the same problem: How do I make small talk? Perhaps I'm just socially awkward, but I can never think of things to say to other people (in any language). Mostly my problem is, to figure out what questions and answers should you learn to have a basic conversation with someone else?
Ken, you have to practice, practice, practice!
Statistics point to the fact that approximately 85% percent of our success in life is directly attributable to our communication skills.
Believe me, if you practice you will get better.
Every year and every decade of my own life it gets easier.
The trick is to put your attention away from yourself.
Put your attention onto something/anything in your shared situation with the other person.
That can be the weather, the slow shopping line, the news, or perhaps even something small about the other person.
So study the other person.
Look for an opening.
Start the conversation with something small and innocuous.
The moments before a conversation begins are also part of the conversation!
So feel the energy or vibration of your potential speaking partner.
If they feel angry then maybe don't talk!
Or if they feel open then you have a better chance.
Trial and error, my friend!
That means lots of trials and lots of errors!
Try asking open ended questions. Open ended questions are questions that can't be answered with a yes or no. For example, what made you interested in learning English? Why did you choose to study computer science at college?
Asking open ended questions make the other person give a detailed answer which helps your conversation develop. Give it a try. :)
I think that one should start, it doesn't mattere about what he starts to talk about. You can start talking about everyday life, even telling what you did in the morning or how you felt is a way to begin, in my opinion.
Another good idea could be talking about your interests: do you like reading books, is there a movie you've recently seen and want to talk about it?
I think Neil Degrasse Tyson said it best: "Brain droppings". Nothing heady just letting you mind wonder.
I am facing the same problem. After reading English for a long time and after reading complex structures in English, while learning other language like German I have the problem of thinking in simple form and making short sentence.
But recently, somehow I am trying to build very simple sentences.
e.g. For everything, try giving a reason. Initially it will be difficult but I guess one can pickup.
I like reading books( conjugate this with, why do you like)
I travel a lot(Where all did you travel and what did you do in each place(go into details))
I went to a new place, say USA( What does USA offers to a foreigner? )
So reasoning for liking something and describing a particular object and place helps you to get
more sentences in a context.
Hope this helps.