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Paul Sparks, Sino-Canadian International College, Guangxi University, Nanning.
Plans for "Watch, Listen & Speak", Semester 2
Listening & Speaking, Clarification, Small Talk,
Vocabulary and Expressions:
Guidelines: Listen to the conversations then
study the vocabulary and expressions used.
When planning to go to a
party, we need to consider two things:
1) Who will we be
talking to, and
2) What are some likely topics.
In this lesson you will
see three sample conversations:
Conversation A: Dan is
calling Kay to confirm the party's information and accept the invitation.
Conversation B: Dan
arrives at the party, greets Kay, the hostess, and offers her some wine he
Conversation C: Dan
meets the other guests, then makes "small talk" and future plans
Requests are also made
and received. Remember, any conversation needs to incorporate clarification
strategies to be sure of the information. Many miscommunications have not
only resulted in embarrassment, but even disaster. Various clarification
strategies are used throughout the three conversations.
Conversation A (Dan calls Kay)
Dan: Hello Kay. It's
Dan. I just received the invitation to your party.
Kay: Can you make it?
Dan: Well, let's see.
It's next Saturday night, 7:00 pm, at 201 Liberty Lane, Champaign. Right?
Kay: That's right. I
hope you can come?
Dan: It would be my
pleasure. Can I bring anything?
Kay: Just yourself.
Dan: Ok, I'll be there
with bells on. I'm looking forward to it. Thanks.
Dan: See you then.
Conversation B (Dan and
Kay upon his arrival.)
Kay: Hi, come in. Glad
to see you.
Dan: (inside) Thanks for
inviting me. I brought some wine.
Kay: Oh, how nice. Let
me take it to the kitchen. Go on into the living room. I think you know
Conversation C (Dan and the other guests.)
Bill: Hi! How are you?
Dan: Fine. How about
Bill: Super! Let me
introduce you to my niece, Claire.
Claire, this is Dan--he
works with me at the office.
Claire: Hello, Dan.
Bill: Dan, this is my
brother John's daughter, Claire.
Dan: Pleased to meet
you. I didn't know John had a daughter? Where's he been hiding you?
Bill: She's been living
out East with his wife's sister. She just moved back.
Dan: What part of the
Claire: Boston, near the
Dan: It must be quite a
change--coming back here?
Claire: It is, but I'm
glad to be back and see all my friends.
Bill: Hey, Dan. Do you
still play golf?
Dan: Not as much as I
Bill: Claire plays.
Maybe we could all play sometime soon?
Dan: That sounds great.
How about tomorrow morning?
B.&C.: Sure, say
7:00, out at Harrison Park?
Dan: Great, 7 A.M. at
Harrison. I'll look forward to it.
Kay: (rejoining the
group) I see you've met Elizabeth.
Dan: Elizabeth? I
thought your name was Claire?
Claire: It is. My aunt
just calls me by Elizabeth.
Dan: Well, I've not only
met Elizabeth, but the three of us are off to the greens in the morning.
Kay: She'll probably
whip the both of you! Ha Ha.
Bill: Dan, could you
pass me that newspaper? Let's see what the weather's supposed to be.
Dan: Sure, here you go.
Claire: How often do you
Dan: Well, this year
I've only played twice. How about you?
Claire: I was playing
weekly in Boston-- with my aunt, but since I came home I haven't played
Bill: The report is a
humdinger. I guess the leftovers from hurricane Opal are gone.
Dan: So are you saying
it is supposed to be nice tomorrow?
Bill: I sure am. It says
it will be sunny and dry--perfect weather.
Kay: Enough about golf.
How's your dancing? Hey, Pete. Would you turn up the stereo? We've got a
party going on!
"Let's see. It's next Saturday night at 7 at your house and the address
is 201 Liberty Lane, Champaign."
This is a clarification strategy used to confirm the understood message.
After saying this, Dan can be 100% sure that the message he understood is
the same as the message Kay intended. If there was any misunderstanding, it
could easily be cleared up at this point. Now that Dan is sure he
understands the details, he can accept the invitation.
"I hope you can
Kay is expressing her hope that Dan can come; while at the same time, she is
asking Dan to respond whether he can or not. By asking in this way, Dan can
give a number of replies--Yes, No, Maybe, We'll see, Me too, etc. Kay
doesn't make Dan feel that he must give her his answer right now--perhaps
pressuring him or making him uncomfortable. She is being polite.
"I'll be there with
He is telling Kay that he will be there, but also he is letting her know he
is excited about it and will be there on time. ("with bells on" is
an American idiom which means to be excited about the event and will be
there exactly on time.)
"Can I bring
In most informal situations it is considered a common courtesy to ask the
hostess this. Often the reply will be "no, but thank you for
asking" or "if you like, but it's not necessary". Regardless
of the hostess's reply, it is a friendly gesture on your part to take some
wine, flowers, candy or even just potato chips--depending on the situation.
forward to it."
This is a polite conversation close. It says he won't forget, while
signalling there is no more to say now.
inviting me. I brought some wine."
These two go together--each complementing the other. He is not only
expressing his pleasure with words, but also reinforces the words with a
gift. By saying this combination, neither Dan or Kay are left stumbling with
who should say what about the wine which is obviously in Dan's arms.
"Let me introduce
Introductions are politely done in a particular form and with a specific
pattern of words. 99% of the time an introduction will go as follows:
"Dan, let me introduce you to Claire."
"Claire, meet Dan."
The names are repeated as such to help the two parties to remember them.
This form also implies an equality of the two parties. Often an explanation
or connection is given for how the person doing the introducing has come to
know the two. In Bill's case, he tells Dan that Claire is his niece and
tells Claire that Dan works with him in his office.
"What part of the
By asking a general question of Claire that follows up on a previous part of
the conversation, Dan is showing interest in getting to know Claire better.
And by using her name at the end, Dan is not only reinforcing his memory of
her name, but also letting Claire know he was interested enough in her to
remember her name.
"It must be quite a
change --coming back here?"
Dan is again asking Claire a question which shows his interest in her, and
also the question is stated in such a way as to now give Claire the
opportunity to tell Dan more about herself. If she wishes to let him know
more about her she can now do so easily. If she does not, she is not in an
awkward position of having to either answer a very specific question or
stumble to find a way to avoid it.
"I'm glad to be
back and see all of my friends."
Claire chose to answer Dan's question in a very non-revealing way. With
these words, Claire is saying "One good thing about being back is
seeing my friends," and no more. She isn't forced to reply about any
personal reasons for why she came back; however, if she would have liked to,
the question would have allowed her to easily do so.
"Do you still play
Hobbies such as sports are often a way to begin a conversation with someone.
When someone plays a particular sport, they are usually glad to talk about
it and it is an easy way to make a common interest known. Bill not only asks
Dan about a sport he plays, but Bill knows that it is a common interest of
the three conversation participants and that they all could feel comfortable
talking about it.
"Not as much as I
Dan could have simply answered "Yes" or "No", but by
replying this way he also conveys that he would like to play more. This
gives Bill the opportunity to come back with a suggestion that they go and
play sometime--a suggestion that Dan was probably hoping for when he chose
which words to say.
"I see you've met
This is a very easy way to enter into an already-in-progress conversation.
It requires a response and that requires a break in the
thought your name was Claire."
Dan has just been given a very confusing message. He needs to sort it out.
The clarification strategy used here is very direct and to the point--this
woman in front of him has been called by two different names and he wants to
"Could you pass me
By beginning with "could" this is asking, "Is it
possible?". It is a polite way to make a request. But notice even
though it is very polite there is no "please" used.
"Please" may have been included, but it is common among close
friends to drop it in a casual situation. With it, the request would seem
more formal and since "could" was used it was not as formal as a
request such as, "Please pass me the newspaper."
"Sure, here you
An informal answer to an informal request is appropriate. This answer
implies that he doesn't mind at all--helping the requester to not feel
uncomfortable asking for the assistance.
"How often do you
Claire is now showing interest in knowing more about Dan. The question is
not personal, but the reply could provide her with some clues into Dan's
lifestyle. The theme of golf is used because it has already been seen to be
an agreeable topic. You should be careful not to "wear out" a
When someone asks you a "How do you..." type question, 99% of the
time the appropriate response is to first answer, then ask "How about
you?" or "And you?". By doing this you will show that you are
interested in others' choices or opinions.
"Enough about golf!
How's your dancing?"
Kay is showing her disinterest in talking about golf and that she wants a
change of topic. It is also clear that she does not simply want to know
about your dancing. She wants you to actually dance with her. Since party's
usually have music and an environment which would be suitable for dancing,
this approach is very effective for changing the tone of the conversation as
well as for getting a dance partner.