It's been a while since I heard/read people complaining about the common questions they are asked when talking with a new language partner. In my opinion, there are things that are must-to-ask to know who you are talking with. So, I'm wondering what do you think about it? Do you have ideas to avoid that 'routine'?
On other hands, once all those basic questions are answered, what do you think is a good topic to continue talking? I don't usually make a plan for the meetings I have, I just let the conversation flow. Do do you do the same or do you make a list of the possible topics that you can talk about?
I also like to just let the converstion flow. Yes, when I meet someone for the first time I start with basic questions and then try to bring up some topics I like or I feel can be also interested for the language partner. However, in my experience, it does not work always and that is perfectly OK. In that case I stop meeting with him/her and I start to look for someone new.
Actually, I never "talk" with a language partner, in the sense that you refer to hear.
I never burden the new student with a need to engage in dialogue.
I always have something to read with my new Student and I have the student repeat the sentences a phrase or so at a time.
About the only dialogue I invite a new student to engage in is to arrange a time for a regular meeting. Most of the students I work with are quite nervous, as our meeting will be the very first time they have ever used Skype. So I use Nursery Rhymes and Song Lyrics and I do not discuss these, other than to clarify any word meanings.
After several meetings with me, the students have relaxed a little bit and they do become more "conversational" I notice. After a month or so of meetings and practices, the studens find that they can use vocabulary more freely.
There are some students who can engage in immediate dialogue, but in those situations also, I always e-mail some reading material and I read it a phrase at a time, because nearly every student I have needs some pronunciation practice. Afterward, we can discuss word meanings, because almost every student needs help with some English vocabulary.
Eventually, the student who practices with me for about 2 months, becomes very relazed and talkative, but I never put the student in the position where I "expect" them to dialogue with me.
I think it's good to find a common interest. For example, if you both like books or music or a certain hobby, or work in the same/similar industry, it is easier to find things to talk about.
I think a good topic for communication bitween people from different countries can be culture , tradisions, castoms and national holidays.