How to respond to “How are you?”, “What’s up?”, and other conversation starters

How are you?

There are a few questions that English speakers ask at the beginning of a conversation. These questions are simple tools to find out if there are any interesting topics to discuss:

How are you?

How’s it going?

What’s up?

What’s happening?

You’ve certainly heard these questions, but you might be confused about how to answer. Here’s a list of common answers to them:

 

How are you?

Fine.

This is a simple, straight answer. If you don’t say anything else, though, it might be a signal that you don’t want to continue the conversation.

Not bad.

This is a more friendly-sounding answer than “fine”.

Fine, thanks.

This answer is formal. You might answer this way if someone you don’t know, like a waiter at a restaurant, asks how you are.

Very well, thanks.

A person who likes to be grammatically proper might answer this way. Technically, the question “How…?” should be answered with an adverb. However, a lot of English speakers don’t know or care about this. The people who do are “by the books” types who insist on using grammatically correct language.

Pretty good.

If you don’t care as much about grammar, you can answer “Good” or “Pretty good”. It’s more common and much, much more casual.

Great! How are you doing?

This is an enthusiastic, excited response. It’s always good to ask a question back to the other person if you want to continue the conversation.

I’m hanging in there.

This answer makes it sound like you’re having a tough day.

I’ve been better.

People usually give positive answers to the question “How are you?” If you give a negative answer like this one, it usually means that you want to tell the listener your sad story. So they’ll usually ask what’s wrong:

A: How are you?

B: I’ve been better.

A: What’s wrong?

B: I just found out that I’m being laid off.

How’s it going?

This question is similar to “How are you”. The answers discussed above all work for “How’s it going?” as well.

Here’s another answer that will also work for “How’s it going”, but not for “How are you?”

It’s going well.

This is a friendly, polite answer that’s suitable for coworkers, clients, and acquaintances that you haven’t seen in a while.

What’s up?

This question means “What’s happening in your life?” But you don’t have to answer honestly. If you don’t want to start a long conversation, you can use one of these standard replies:

Nothing much.

This is the most common answer. You can follow it by sharing something interesting that’s happening: “Nothing much. Just getting ready for Vanessa’s graduation.”

Not a lot.

This is another really common answer. It’s just a bit fresher than “Nothing much” because it’s a little less common.

Nothing.

This is more to-the-point. It might make you seem a little angry or rude.

Oh, just the usual.

Answer this way if you do mostly the same things each day.

Just the same old same old.

This phrase means that you’re doing the same things every day, and you’re a little bored of it.

Oh gosh, all kinds of stuff!

You can answer this way if your life has been really busy and exciting lately.

What’s happening?

This question means the same thing as “What’s up” and can be answered in the same way.

 

When not to answer

One other thing that you should know: all of these questions can also be used to mean “Hello”. In that case, you don’t have to answer. It would be more natural to respond with another greeting:

A: How are you?

B: Hey, how’s it going?

So how do you know whether someone really wants to know how you are, or they’re just saying “Hi”? You can tell that it’s just a greeting if:

  • they’re walking by you and don’t stop to hear your answer
  • they wave to you while asking
  • the tone of their voice doesn’t go up at the end

 


(Reference: http:/www.phrasemix.com)

5 Reasons Why You Are Not Speaking English Fluently

1. You Don’t Want It Enough

Most people don’t REALLY WANT to learn English, they only KIND OF WANT to learn. Really think about it for a second, on a scale of 1 to 10 (ten being the most excited about learning) how much do you really want to learn English?

Many people come to me asking for English classes saying that they really, really, really want to learn and that they would do anything for me to start teaching them.

Sure, for the first week, sometimes even the first month, they attend every class, do the activities I ask them to do in their spare time, and sometimes they even come to the RealLife English party which we host every month to give English learners a social atmosphere where they can practice their English. Find one near you.

But soon enough that excitement to learn, all of their desire to master the language just suddenly disappears and they decide that the money they invest on English classes would be better off spent on candy crush credits and other useless stuff like that.

English or any other language cannot be learned in just one class; it actually takes some time and focus. If you feel like learning a language isn’t something that you want to invest at least 3 or 4 hours a week on, then maybe you should stick to the candy crush.

2. It’s a Resentful Work Obligation

Ok, so maybe I was a little harsh on the first point, I understand that for some people learning English is more of a work necessity than a cool hobby.

If you are being obliged to learn English because it is necessary for your job, then I wish you the best of luck. I know that the corporate world is very cutthroat [relentless] and if you don’t speak English as well as the other person in the interview then you’re probably not going to get the job.

These types of students are generally pretty honest with me, sometimes they even tell me how much they hate learning English and resent the fact that they have to spend their money on English class when they would rather be drinking beer and playing Candy Crush.

Seeing language acquisition as nothing more than a work obligation is not going to make you enjoy the process and you are not going to be motivated to learn. You must find a way to see the benefits English can have in other aspects of your life and use that as a focus point of your classes.

You spend all day at work talking about business, why don’t you make your English classes something totally different, something fun and entertaining.  I’m sure your teacher would definitely be happy to help you find a way to connect your English learning to something more pleasurable to talk about.

3. You Haven’t Made a Habit Out Of It

If you want to be good at something, you have to do it on a regular basis. Think of something you are good at, how did you become so good?

Unless you have a natural gift, you probably spent a lot of time practicing or dedicating at least 10 to 20 minutes a day to that skill. This is also a necessity when learning a language and without making a habit out of practicing, you are not going to achieve English proficiency.

A common exercise I give my students to practice in their spare time is the tour of the tenses. The objective of this is to go through the table of verb conjugations with 3 verbs a day and then present me with all the verbs they did in out next class.

This is a simple exercise and it would probably take you 5 to 10 minutes a day, if you made a habit out of it. A lot of people get lazy and decide to do all of the verbs an hour before our class and get very frustrated with it and want to give up.

What they fail to understand is that the purpose of this exercise isn’t just to practice the verb conjugations, but to start developing good habits. Leaving everything to the last minute and getting stressed is not a healthy way to learn anything, you need to pace yourself and develop convenient and stress-free habits to be able to maximize your learning ability.

Ten to twenty minutes here and there is much better for you learning than 2 hours rushed before your class.

3. You Have No Accountability

What’s that you say? You’re really busy and didn’t have any time to practice? That’s strange because your Facebook status on the weekend said “bored as hell on a Saturday with nothing to do.”

Most people don’t hold themselves accountable for their own learning. When I ask my students if they got a chance to listen to any podcasts, read an English article, or practice in any way, the typical answer is – I was too busy, and I didn’t have any time.

Maybe that’s true but I really doubt it. If you really want to learn something you are going to find time. There is no use lying to your English teacher because you are just lying to yourself. He or she doesn’t really care if you studied or not, they are not the ones that need to learn English, you are.

To help my students from lying to themselves I get them to say “I didn’t make it a priority,” instead of saying,  “I didn’t have time.” This helps the student to realize that the reason that they didn’t practice anything was because of their own problems, not because of exterior reasons.

4. You Think Your Teacher Is Some Sort of a Magician

Imagine if you could go to a magic man or a witch doctor of some kind and ask them to make a special potion that when you drink it you can suddenly speak English.

Unfortunately some people think that when you have class with a private teacher that is what happens.

Sorry but I don’t have any magic tricks or special potions. You have to realize that a private teacher is more of a tour guide. We are teaching you the way to learn English and showing the right paths to take. Holding your hand along the process and answering your questions.

If you think that 1 or 2 classes a week is enough to learn everything about English I’m sorry but you are wrong. You need to do use some initiative and be more of an independent learner.

5. You Think You Are Stupid

And lastly, I have to tell you that learning to speak English is not rocket science. Don’t over complicate things.

A lot of learners have the idea that they’re not the type of person who can learn languages, and with that kind of thinking of course you never will. To learn English you have to give yourself time, you can’t get too frustrated, and you can’t be afraid of making mistakes.

If some of your colleagues are learning faster than you that doesn’t mean that they are smarter than you. You shouldn’t feel like a dumb ass. Everyone has their own type of intelligence and their own way of learning.

 

 

 

 

 

(Reference: reallifeglobal.com; http:/www.fluentland.com)

7 Things NOT to Do When Speaking English

by Alba

1. Don’t Be too Ashamed to Speak

There is only one way to learn how to speak English, and that is to open your mouth and speak English! The only way you will ever get better at speaking is by speaking, and speaking a lot!

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear. – Mark Twain

You can make excuses for why you don’t want to speak, like saying that you’re too embarrassed to speak, but these won’t get you any closer to your goal of achieving English fluency. It doesn’t matter if you have no vocabulary, or if your pronunciation isn’t perfect, you need to open your mouth and speak if you want to improve.

Whatever you do, don’t say that you can’t speak English because this will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. By believing that you can’t speak English you close your mind to trying, and never give yourself the opportunity to improve. The only way to improve your English is to practice it, no matter how bad you may or may not be at it.

2. Don’t Be Afraid of Making Mistakes

Another thing you shouldn’t do when speaking English is to be afraid of making mistakes. Part of being human is making mistakes and sooner or later you’re going to have to accept the fact that you’re not perfect and that you will always make mistakes. The only way you can avoid making mistakes is by not trying at all. If you follow this approach you’ll avoid making mistakes, but you’ll never improve either.

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. – Michael Jordan

This may seem counter-intuitive, but you should try making as many mistakes as possible. If you are making mistakes that means you are actually speaking English and improving. If you aren’t making mistakes every day then you aren’t speaking enough. Of course, you shouldn’t intentionally make mistakes, and you should try to be aware of your mistakes so you can learn from them and improve your skills.

Grammar is the last thing you should be worried about when speaking English. You don’t need to have perfect grammar in order to communicate with someone in English. Native speakers aren’t going to judge you for having bad grammar, they are going to be more focused on understanding your meaning and continuing the conversation.

As long as you speak clearly and confidently, it doesn’t matter if you use the wrong article, adjective ending or sentence order.

Many language programs put too much emphasis on grammar and not enough emphasis on speaking. They spread the idea that you have to know all the grammar rules before you can start speaking, which can have the effect of reducing your confidence when you finally start speaking. This is backwards. You should learn to speak first to build your confidence, and then work on correcting your grammar after you’ve reached a basic level of fluency.

Everybody makes mistakes, even native speakers of English. Nobody is born speaking perfect English; fluency is something that takes time and hard work to achieve. There are many Americans who go through 13 years of schooling and still don’t learn how to speak English properly.

So don’t be discouraged by your mistakes. Learn to embrace them and value them for the role they play in your learning.

3. Don’t Apologize For Your Level

Something that really annoys me when I’m talking to someone in English is when they apologize for how much English they speak. I’ve never been offended by someone’s level of English, and I don’t get upset when someone makes mistakes. If you talk to someone and they do get offended or upset because of your level of English they are an evil person who probably tortures kittens in their spare time.

Most of the people who apologize for their level of English feel like they should speak better than they do. Its fine to think this, but don’t get upset at yourself for not knowing more than you do. Achieving fluency in any language is a process that takes time, and you can’t expect to become fluent overnight. Whether you’ve been studying English for years or only for a few months, you’ve put in a lot of work to get where you are, so don’t underestimate yourself.

4. Don’t get frustrated with yourself

Learning English will come with a certain amount of frustration. At some point you will come to a stage where you won’t be able to fully express yourself like you would be able to in your native language, and there will be times when you won’t be able to find the right word to say.

Nearly everyone who learns English goes through this phase; it’s just a natural part of the language learning process. This stage may last only a few weeks if you are completely immersed in English, but it could last years if you only use English twice a week at your language school. The only way to overcome this frustration is by practice, practice, practice.

Keep in mind that this frustration isn’t because you’re not smart enough, or because the language is too difficult, it is something that many people have to go through. By embracing this frustration and feeling it more intensely through increased exposure you can pass through this stage more rapidly.

5. Don’t take it personally when people don’t understand you

At some point in your English speaking career you are going to speak to someone who, no matter how hard you try just cant seem to understand you. Due to the large number of English speakers in the world, there are a wide range of accents, some of which are hard to understand. I for one have a hard time understanding some Australian accents and most Irish accents.

You’ll have this problem a lot when talking with people who aren’t used to dealing with foreigners. If they don’t have this experience they will be used to hearing English spoken in a very specific way, and they won’t have any frame of reference when talking to you. Realize that this isn’t a reflection of your language skills, but rather a reflection of this person’s lack of exposure to different people.

This can also happen when talking to English learners who have a lower level of English than you. They won’t be able to understand everything you say because of your more advanced vocabulary. Try to remember that you were once at their level and not everyone is at the same place on their language journey.

The same person who gets offended when you speak English also tortures kittens like these.

6. Don’t compare yourself to other English Speakers

No matter what level your English is at, you had to work hard to bring yourself to that level. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished and don’t be too concerned with what other people think about it. They don’t know how many hours you’ve had to work to get to where you are, they don’t know all the struggles you’ve been through to get there.

This also means you shouldn’t go around comparing yourself to other people. Everybody is different; some people learn languages more easily than others and some people have spent more time working to improve their English. Just because your friend who lived in London for 3 years can speak really well doesn’t mean that you’re not on the right path.

Some people like to see others fail, and by paying any attention to these people you are just feeding their negativity. Any time you spend worrying about what they think of you is time wasted that could be better spent by working to improve your English.

7. If you are fluent, or just think you are, DON’T GET COCKY (ARROGANT)

English is not a chip in your brain. It’s a learning process. Maybe this is gonna seem harsh, and definitely a bit paradoxical, but for the rare English Jedi breed, they realize that there’s never really perfect fluency, only the impassioned and ever-approaching journey toward it.

This means that when you finally become fluent, (whatever that really means to you or to the world), you shouldn’t adopt the attitude of somebody who thinks “I already learned English” because there are some fundamental problems and limitations that come from this assumption. Here are just a few:

You’re living a lie because you never stop learning a language. It is like calling yourself a fully-realized human being.  There’s always the next level up, and the current level always needs practice.

The learner tends to get lazy, and it’s a universal fact about any learning process, that if you aren’t growing, you are probably getting worse.

The inflated ego prevents you from recognizing the final 5 or 10% that separates you from the master jedi breed of English speakers.

There is a tendency to treat other English learners (or people who are learning their language) in a condescending, totally idiotic way, forgetting what it is like to learn because they themselves are no longer connected to their own learning process.

Cultural Understanding: You can know everything about grammar, but that doesn’t mean you are fluent. You need to be constantly connected to the source of the language (culture) so that it flows from who you really are.

So there you have it, 7 things not to do when speaking English. Now that you know what not to do, go out there and speak English!

 

 


(Reference: http:/www.fluentland.com)

NTC’s Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions

 

NTC’s Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7vhntiSqfSjNTNJS1p0ejVqYVk/view?usp=docslist_api

Business Grammar & Practice: A2-B1

 

Business Grammar & Practice: A2-B1
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0JUq1JEy52bNzJDRFBDZXRJN3c/view?usp=drivesdk