Often, it’s more difficult to speak in a group of people who also speak English as a foreign language, than it is to speak in a group of native English speakers.
Why is this?
Perhaps because it’s more difficult to understand different accents, or perhaps because some people feel less confident about their English.
However, there are many times when you’ll be in a group of people. Here are three “rules” for speaking in group conversations.
For an enjoyable group conversation, make sure that everyone has a chance to speak. I’ve noticed that in the English Fluency Club group conversations, often one person in the group acts as a “chair”, inviting each person to speak. In this way, everybody takes turns and has a chance to give their opinion.
Without an informal “chair” to manage the conversation, it can be more difficult for everyone to take part – especially if you’re shy or not confident about your English.
It’s natural to feel less confident when you’re speaking a second language. But it’s also really important to say something!
Even if you only say a few words, you can still take part in a conversation. For example, you can agree: “Yes, I completely agree”; or make a comment: “That sounds really interesting”.
Or you can set yourself a small challenge and make sure that you say something every few minutes during a group conversation. This means that you’ll concentrate on the discussion and on what people are saying. Then you can say something like, “You said something really interesting about … I’d also like to say …” When you say something like this, you’ll be contributing to the discussion and adding more ideas.
Listen and Clarify
Communication is a two-way process: both the person talking and the person listening are important for creating a successful group discussion. So when someone says something that the other person doesn’t understand, that person must ask for repetition or clarification. (Something like “I didn’t understand that” / “I didn’t catch that”). Then the first person needs to say it again – maybe in a simpler way.
Does that make your English less “sophisticated” or “intelligent”? Not at all! It’s a real skill to be able to explain your ideas in different ways in a foreign language; and to be flexible in your choice of vocabulary or grammar.
When both the person speaking and the person listening are determined to communicate a message, the group discussion becomes richer, more interesting – and more satisfying for everyone. You feel a great sense of achievement that you’ve been able to exchange your ideas and opinions.
Join The English Group Discussions!
In the English Fluency Club, we meet twice a month to practise speaking. You’ll improve your listening and speaking – and meet a group of fabulous people from all over the world! You also have unlimited speaking practice during the month with other people from the club. You also get self-study fluency programs that you can work on when you want; individual coaching – and a private lesson with me (a special bonus!) Click the button below for all the details.