This is an advanced course in English pronunciation and conversation for non-native speakers of English. In the Computer Assisted Language Lab, you will practice pronunciation of reduced forms of words, sentence-level intonation patters, and word stress.  You will also work on “trouble spots” in your own pronunciation as well as listen for main ideas while guessing meaning from context, making inferences, and taking notes.

The following resources are selected to help you succeed in this course.


Prepare and warm up yourself

It’s important to prepare yourself before the small talk, just as a football player does the warm up before an important match OR a lawyer jots down important points before appearing for a court hearing. If you are a shy person this is the most essential step to master small talks. What you can do is shortlist hot topics and your experience related to it, this would help you to talk about these topics confidently and would never be short of words.

Be the first one

Are you one of those who is hung back when it comes to starting a conversation. Well, then be the first one , just be confident and start the conversation. To begin the conversation, start with a smile, make an eye contact, this gives a positive signal to the other person and creates a positive energy. Now then just hit the nail and start the conversation.

Listen actively

Listening actively helps you to pick up facts in a conversation and build a mental picture and continue the conversation gracefully. Listening actively gives you the time to construct phrases to keep the conversation moving.

Avoid unpleasant topics

Small talks are causal conversations, so avoid topics such as recession, layoffs etc. These are very sensitive topics and create an argument. Unpleasant topics don’t create a positive image about you. So always stick to lighter topics such as movies, shopping, life in the city etc., and avoid unpleasant topics.

End the conversation gracefully

As you start the conversation positively, you need to end it well. Never end the conversation abruptly and move by just saying ‘Bye’. Appreciate the conversation you had with the person and end it gracefully. This shows you value the other persons time.

We hope these tips are useful for you, and you would feel confident when it comes to starting a conversation. Do not forget to subscribe to Skillopedia – The place to learn skills for the real world.


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Learn ESL English listening, pronunciation, and grammar skills with videos and interactive exercises.  On the English Central website, Tacoma Community College ESL students can now access more extensive study exercises and activities.  The video lessons give subtitles along with the audio, and you can click on the words you don’t know during the video to learn! Then the lesson teaches you the vocabulary from the video, has you practice speaking as you read the video subtitles yourself, and then quizzes you.  This is a fun and interactive way to practice English!


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Rachel’s English site provides detailed videos on how to physically produce/pronounce English sounds, words, and phrases.  This site is useful for students who are particularly patient and willing to learn the intricacies of phonetics and pronunciation to improve their English production.


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VOA news provides short current event news videos and articles organized by English levels 1 & 2 for English learners to watch, read, and listen to for English comprehension practice. This site is easy and quick to access quality & current resources at a level that benefits English language learners. The audio is read clearly and slowly so students can follow. The site uses basic English vocabulary and structures to help learners understand at a realistic pace. 


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Vocaroo is a simple, quick, and free online voice recording tool.  Once you finish your recording, the site will ask you “Happy with this recording?” and tell you to “Click here to save>>”.  Once you click to save, it will give you a url address that you can copy and paste as a link to your audio recording, or you can select the embed code to put on a website or blog.  This makes it easy to email a link of your recording to your teacher or other students or post on a blog or share through your social media of choice.  You can also choose to download the recording as  MP3, Ogg, FLAC, or WAV.  You must have a microphone connected to your computer to use this recording tool. There is not a definite age at which recordings are deleted, however it is likely messages will expire after a few months. If a recording is important you should download and save it to your own computer as soon as possible to avoid losing it. There is no fixed time limit on recording length, however be aware that even brief internet connection outages can cause recording to be stopped or to fail, and with longer recordings the chance of this increases.


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Duolingo is a free gamified language learning program.  You can learn English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, or Dutch.  The program gives lessons on certain vocab and topics including writing, reading, listening, and speaking tasks.  As you complete and pass each section, you unlock the more advanced sections.  You can earn duolingo currency, called Lingots, through various tasks which can help you advance quicker or buy useful things within the program.  Also you can compete against your friends learning the same language and see who is ranked highest at any given moment.


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Learn English vocabulary, grammar, and listening comprehension.  EngVid provides English teaching videos on various English topics and grammar. It is organized by topic and teacher. It is also generally searchable for any specific topic of interest using the search bar on the menu bar.


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Listen to English phrases and practice pronouncing them yourself, or listen and answer questions to practice your understanding of spoken English.  Talk English provides sound bites of sentences in English. It is organized by level and subject matter by a text menu on the left hand side of the web page. You can also access “Full Lessons” which include an audio dialogue, a comprehension quiz, and a written transliteration of the audio.  This site can be useful for practicing listening and pronunciation of various commonly used phrases or for finding examples of particular grammar points used in live English.


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