How can you learn a second language faster? Conversation! Conversation is at the heart of the Bellieu Method for gaining fluency. There’s a very good reason for that: Conversation is how all of us acquired our first language.
Why is conversation so important to language learning? And what kinds of conversations should you be having at each stage of your journey to fluency? Let’s talk! These are conversation starter ideas for just about any situation, and you can use them for learning a language – at any level!
The Power of Conversation
According to Dr. Frederick J. Zimmerman, associate professor in the Department of Health Services in the UCLA School of Public Health, children have an improvement in their language scores due to back-and-forth conversation. Reading to kids or letting them watch TV just didn’t yield the same results. Zimmerman said that “the effect of adult-child conversations was roughly six times as potent at fostering good language development as adult speech input alone.” Six times!
Through extensive experience with language training, we’ve observed that the same holds true for adults. Just listening to a language instructor is nowhere near as effective as talking with that instructor. And if you make it a point to get additional conversation practice outside of your language classes, you will become fluent that much faster.
To make the most of your conversation practice, match the complexity of the conversation to your fluency level in your target language. Not sure what your language level is? Check out our handy guide to the CEFR language levels.
Conversation Starter Ideas for Different Language Levels
As you advance in language levels, you’ll be able to hold increasingly in-depth conversations. Here are some questions you should be able to ask and answer at each level:
A2: Advanced Beginner
- How are you doing?
- What time do you go to work?
- Where did you get that blouse?
- Can we go to the movies on Friday?
- I’m great/ I’m not feeling great.
- I go to work at 9 a.m.
- I bought it at the mall across town.
- Sure, I’ll meet you there.
B1: Low Intermediate
- What did you do on vacation?
- What will you be ordering?
- What do you like about that band?
- I spent most of my vacation at the beach, but I went sightseeing some days.
- I think I’ll be getting the roast beef and a glass of wine.
- I love their style and music.
B2: Advanced Intermediate
At this level you should have conversational fluency. You’ll be able to speak about anything.
- How do you feel about that new law that was just passed?
- Where can I find out how to rent an apartment in this city?
- Did you like the film you watched last week?
- I think they should have spent more time considering it.
- You can contact my friend; he’s renting an apartment.
- Yes, it was really captivating. The plot was great, and the actors did a great job. You should watch it.
C1: Lower Advanced Native Speaker
At this level, you can ask and answer questions that require deep or complex answers.
- Do you think you’re spending too much time working?
- Do you keep in touch with your family back home?
- How do you feel about leaving your job?
- Yes, I’m not spending enough time with my spouse and children. I missed my child’s soccer match recently. I need to talk to my boss about cutting back.
- Honestly, I haven’t been in contact with my family back home. The last time I spoke to my aunt was two months ago. I usually video call them on Zoom.
- I think I might need to find another job. However, I can’t right now. We really need the money.
C2: Advanced Native Speaker
At this level, you should have mastered the language. You’ll be able to speak about and understand virtually anything.
- Do you read that newspaper? They seem biased.
- Do you believe in climate change?
- Do you use cruelty-free products?
- Yeah, they seem a little biased, but I mostly agree with their viewpoints.
- Yes, scientists have been warning us for years. I can definitely see evidence of climate change right now.
- I do. I always check the labels to make sure the brand doesn’t test on animals. I also try to buy from companies with sustainable practices.
Chat with a Native Speaker
Of course, a big challenge when it comes to getting conversational practice in your target language is finding native speakers to talk with. If you don’t know any native speakers, don’t worry. You can chat with one of our language tutors. One of the greatest advantages of speaking with a language tutor is that they can correct you if you make a mistake. If you’re on the fence about getting a language tutor, try a $35 trial class.