Lesson Transcript


Chigusa: Welcome to a special Inner Circle Audio Lesson! I'm Chigusa and I'll be your host. My co-host today is the founder of InnovativeLanguage.com... Peter Galante!
Peter: Hi everyone! Peter here.
Chigusa: In this Inner Circle, we’re talking about…
Peter: How to Start Conversations. Talking Points for Language Learners.
Chigusa: You’ll Learn…
Peter: One: Did Cramming Work for My Trip?
Chigusa: Two: How Peter Was Able to Have Conversations with Natives… in Korean
Peter: And Three: The Top 5 Ways to Start a Conversation
Chigusa: All so you can master your target language and reach your goals!
Chigusa: Listeners, welcome back to the Inner Circle.
Peter: Last time, you learned whether cramming is effective or not…
Chigusa: ...and how to cram - if you must - with our language learning program.
Peter: And I was cramming because... I was flying to Korea in 7 days.
Chigusa: Yes, and now you are back! So, did it work? Did you hit your goals?
Peter: Wow, Chigusa, most people start with “how was your trip? Did you have fun?”
Chigusa: Well, I am all about business, Peter. Let’s talk language goals.
Peter: Well, I can appreciate that. So, let’s get into the first part.
Chigusa: Part 1: Did Cramming Work?
Peter: So, if you remember before I left…
Chigusa: Yes, you were cramming travel phrases. Did you remember ‘em all?
Peter: Well, I’ll tell you this much Chigusa… I did… because I cheated.
Chigusa: Peter, how could you cheat!?
Peter: Oh, it was easy. I just printed out the Survival Phrases lesson notes and I took them with me.
Chigusa: So, you’re saying that...if you didn’t have the notes, you wouldn’t be able to tell a taxi driver where to go? Or order at a restaurant?
Peter: Well, you know, when you’re in a cab, it’s more useful to practice the actual phrases… and tell them “please go here,” instead of racking your brain.
Chigusa: Okay, I agree there.
Peter: And cramming… while it;s good to pass tests, you forget most things the next day. It’s not so good for communication.
Chigusa: And like we said last time, it’s the actual practice that helps you remember better.
Peter: Exactly. So now, I CAN tell you the phrases to use at a restaurant or in a taxi, without a cheat sheet. But only because I’ve practiced multiple times.
Chigusa: Peter, you also had some specific goals, right? You wanted to talk to 10 people.
Peter: My goal was to talk with 10 people in Korean. More specifically, to accomplish certain can-do goals… order at a restaurant, give the taxi driver directions, talk to at least 2 hotel staff in Korean…
Chigusa: ...So, how did these go?
Peter: I hit my can-do goals. I actually spoke to 15 people.
Chigusa: Oh, wow, 15 people is good.
Peter: Thank you, Chigusa. That was actually sincere. And Chigusa, I was able to have … a few, really good conversations in Korean. And the interesting part is, we started some of these conversations with REALLY basic survival questions like “How much is this?”
Chigusa: I…. can’t imagine a good conversation grow from “how much is this?”
Peter: You’d think so, right?
Chigusa: Yeah, I mean, it’s hard to start conversations in general. And more so, in a new language.
Peter: Even native speakers struggle. It’s always an issue of “what do I say first.”
Chigusa: Right. So, how exactly did these conversations go for you? What happened?
Peter: Let’s jump into part 2.
Chigusa: Part 2: How Peter Was Able to Have Conversations with Natives
Peter: So, Chigusa….Busan was amazing and there were so many opportunities to speak Korean. You know, in the bigger cities, many people know English and are actually really good.
Chigusa: Yeah, their English is better than your target language
Peter: Exactly. so if you try to talk to them, they may respond in English. But Busan was different. So that’s how I was able to speak to 15 people.
Chigusa: Did you just have transactional conversations? Where you’re buying something, or asking the taxi driver to go somewhere?
Peter: Transactional. That’s a very interesting way to put it. A lot of the conversations were transactional and very basic. But, I have 2 examples of where asking about the price of something… grew into a bigger conversation.
Chigusa: Oh, I want to hear this.
Peter: One of the most unique conversations I had...started by asking “how much.” So, I was at a local surf shop and my kids were hungry. We just finished swimming and my kids, and a friend of mine, our kids, were together. So I asked “how much” a box of snacks they had on the counter was. And they told me, it was not for sale. They said, It was a gift somebody gave them. But my kids were really hungry. Chigusa what would you do?
Chigusa: Hmm, I’ll ask, if they give some to me? Share? I’ll buy them! I’ll pay more.
Peter: That’s what I said. I said, “I’ll pay double.” And Chigusa, instead of taking double, they were like “oh, just have some, enjoy, for free.”
Chigusa: Aw, that’s really nice of them.
Peter: And one of the staff started talking to us and saying that he used to live in Pennsylvania, in the US. And he asked where we were from. And we started to talk. And we wound up speaking, and not just with me, with the group I was with for… probably about 15 minutes.
Chigusa: So, you guys ended up having something in common.
Peter: Exactly, and the conversation grew like that. For 15 minutes we talked. I had a Korean speaking friend with us so that really helped facilitate a lot of the deeper conversation too.
Chigusa: But you know, if they just told you the price, the conversation would end.
Peter: Chigusa, most of the time it’s like that.
Chigusa: But here, you guys transitioned from “how much” to “where are you from?”
Peter: Again, many times, when you break the ice with any type of communication, it makes it so much easier to get to the next step. I have another example. Would you like to hear the story, Chigusa?
Chigusa: Please.
Peter: So, this conversation took place at Gamcheon culture village. Have you heard of it, Chigusa?
Chigusa: No, first time.
Peter: It’s really cool. It’s located near the city of Busan and after the war, it was a very poor area so many of the houses were located close together. Sometimes, the walking distance between the houses are just 1 person. And through the years as Korea got more and more wealthy, they preserved the structure of the village but they decided to reinvent themselves as an art village. So, many of the artists live in the village with the local people. So there are 80 year old people and young artists and it has - the streets are painted with art. It’s one of the most unique places I’ve been. And it’s one of the most popular destinations in Korea.
So, I was in an art shop and I asked the lady “how much?” for a painting on the wall. And she looked at me … and I said “how much...for the painting on the wall?” And she said “uh, i don’t think it’s for sale.” So, what do you think I said, Chigusa.
Chigusa: Hmmm. I’ll pay more? I’ll pay a lot? Give me?
Peter: I should’ve went with you. That’s better. Wow, you’re good at this Chigusa. So, actually, I said … maybe we should ask the artists because she wasn’t sure if it was for sale and because the artists are located in the area, she’s like “hang on, let me go ask the artist.” And she ran out of the store to, I think, the artist’s apartment. Knocked on the door, and she came running back. And she said, “yeah, it’s for sale.” I ended up buying the piece. Later, as we were leaving the store, the artist came over and he was in his baseball uniform. It was his day off - it was a Sunday. He was playing baseball. We got a picture with him. But, it’s another case where just starting a conversation led meeting an artist and talking in Korean for 10 to 15 minutes.
Chigusa: Awesome. So these conversations all started from simple phrases?
Peter: Yeah. Do you want to see a picture of the art?
Chigusa: Yeah.
Peter: Hang on one second. It’s really good. Maybe I could put it somewhere inside of this INner Circle. The artist is really good. So, the village is known for its many colors so… here’s a picture of the art.
Chigusa: So, it’s a picture of the village?
Peter: Yeah.
Chigusa: Oh, cool, really nice, so colorful. I love the sky, it’s starry and the moon is really nice.
Peter: So, I'll put a picture in this month’s Inner Circle. So, sometimes, all you really need is an icebreaker. And what I do is, I call these things talking points.
Chigusa: Like themes? Or things to talk about?
Peter: Exactly. For example, weather’s a very common talking point.
Chigusa: Right, you can literally say “Good weather” to a stranger, and have a conversation.
Peter: And after that, you can ask them where they’re from… or compliment the city like “Wow, this is a great city”- again super basic stuff.
Chigusa: But, these basic conversations are always fun.
Peter: You’re right. And getting to know a new person. You’re telling them about yourself. So, even though the conversations I had were simple, you know I really enjoyed them.
Chigusa: It’s funny because… in our native language, talking about simple things, like weather is NOT impressive.
Peter: it’s not. But when you’re learning another language, and you can have a successful conversation, it’s a really BIG DEAL. Chigusa, you want to know something that’s quite interesting?
Chigusa: mmhmm, I’m listening.
Peter: It’s almost easier for me to start a conversation in another language than in English. It’s kind of like this target language confidence. Have you ever had that?
Chigusa: Yeah, I kind of understand that, you get a little more courage to start a conversation, maybe.
Peter: Think about an elevator. If you’re in an elevator, you need something in your native language, something witty to say, right? But if it’s not your native language, you can just say hello. And it’s a big accomplishment for yourself and it’s actually a simple way to start a conversation.
Chigusa: That’s true. So, okay, what about our listeners? What can they take away from this?
Peter: Let’s jump into the 3rd part.
Chigusa: Part 3: The Top 5 Ways to Start a Conversation
Peter: So, we have a series called “top 25 questions you should ask.” And after this trip, I really think we should develop a “top 25 ways to start a conversation.”
Chigusa: That would be good. Knowing how to start a conversation is a powerful skill.
Peter: One you can even use in your own native language. So, listeners, since we don’t have that yet….
Chigusa: Here are the Top 5 Ways to Start a Conversation…
Peter: ...based on the lessons you already have, here on our site.
Chigusa: So, how do you start a conversation in your target language?
Peter: Listeners, the good news is… basics are all you need.
Chigusa: Like, commenting on the weather. Or the city you’re visiting.
Peter: Asking about price. Asking where someone is from. Asking about directions…
Chigusa: ...or just telling the cab driver where to go.
Peter: A basic phrase, a basic talking point, is enough to turn a quick exchange into a longer conversation…
Chigusa: ...if you can find a way to bridge it.
Peter: But sometimes, a quick exchange is as far as you’ll go. And that’s okay.
Chigusa: Yeah, that’s a challenge with all conversations, even in your native language.
Peter: So listeners, here are the 5 easy ways to start conversations…
Chigusa: ...to help you have conversations in your target language.
Peter: 1) Introduce Yourself in your Target Language
Chigusa: If you’ve done the first few lessons on our site, you can already do this.
Peter: And sometimes, starting a conversation, or continuing one, is as simple as introducing yourself.
Chigusa: Yeah, especially, if you’ve started with a different topic, like...the weather. Then, it makes sense to say “by the way, my name is…”
Peter: Our 2nd talking point?
Chigusa: 2) The Weather
Peter: Now, this is a universal talking point. People talk about the weather all over the world.
Chigusa: And just saying “it’s really nice today” is enough to start a conversation.
Peter: Listeners, if you want to talk about the weather, check out our can-do lesson pathway.
Chigusa: This series of lessons teaches you how to talk about the weather - in your target language.
Peter: You’ll find the link the comments section of this Inner Circle.
Chigusa: Number 3: Compliments. Compliments are a great way to start a conversation.
Peter: You can compliment something about their city, their country… or even them! MIght want to be a little careful with that last one.
Chigusa: If you want to learn compliments….
Peter: We’ll leave a link to our compliments phrase list down in the comments section.
Chigusa: 4): Ask for Help. So for example, you can ask for directions, or about the price..
Peter: ....and let the conversation go from there.
Chigusa: These are very basic phrases that you learn in our Survival Phrases lessons.
Peter: And 5) Learn Phrases for Transactions. Like getting a room at a hotel. Or telling the taxi driver where to go.
Chigusa: Yes, these are very easy ways to start a dialogue.
Peter: ...and you can easily bridge into other topics. Again, you learn all of these with our Survival Phrases lessons.
Chigusa: Alright Peter, now that you’re back from your vacation… what’s your next goal?
Peter: So, I reached 13 minutes 2 months ago but we were sidelined by the conversation goal of talking to many people and the traveling so… I’ll go for 15 minutes of Korean conversation.
Chigusa: Deadline?
Peter: August 31st.
Chigusa: Sounds good. And listeners, let us know what your small, measurable monthly goal is.
Peter: Email us at inner dot circle at innovative language dot com, and stay tuned for the next Inner Circle.


Chigusa: Well, that’s going to do it for this Inner Circle lesson!
Peter: Bye everyone!
Chigusa: Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time.