Question: What is the number one reason to learn a new language?
Answer: To communicate with people!
Communication is all about talking to people, and language is how you do that. It’s all about meeting new people, having new experiences, and learning new things.
So how do you meet new people? You introduce yourself and start a conversation. Don’t let that make you nervous. It’s a lot easier than it seems! Let’s look at some ways to introduce yourself in English.
Let’s say you are at a party and you want to talk to someone you have never met before, which is a very casual situation. Here’s how that conversation might go:
John: Hi, I’m John. Are you enjoying the party?
Mary: Hi John, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Mary. Yes, this is a great party!
John: Do you know many people here? I work with Steve, and he invited me.
Mary: Oh, nice! Steve is my neighbor. You work with Steve at the middle school?
John: Yes, I teach fifth grade.
This is an easy way to introduce yourself. John said hello, and then said his name. John wants to start a conversation with Mary, so he asks her a question. Mary responds, and the conversation continues. Since John and Mary have never met before, the conversation is very simple.
Questions are the Key to Easy Introductions!
If you are hesitant to speak about yourself in English, just practice some easy questions and ask them! Let the other person do the talking. They will also ask you questions, so practice answering these easy questions. Use questions like these:
“Where are you from?”
“Where do you work?”
“What do you do?” (What is your job?)
“Are you enjoying the ______?” (Ask about the place or the event where you are meeting.)
“Is it supposed to rain tomorrow?” (The weather is always a very safe and common topic for simple conversations. Everyone has an opinion about the weather!)
All these questions can help continue the conversation, which is what it’s all about.
Maybe you are at a wedding, and you are being greeted by the father of the bride. The conversation would be very similar, but you would probably be more polite and a little more formal.
John: Hi, I’m John Anderson. (John should offer his hand for a handshake.)
Stan: Hi John, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Stan, Clara’s father.
John: Thanks for inviting me. I know Clara from work, and I’m so happy for her.
Stan: Oh, you work at the middle school, too? Are you a teacher?
John: Yes, I teach fifth grade.
The questions are very similar to John and Mary’s casual introduction. They greet each other, exchange names, and say a little about the place and event. Give simple information about yourself, and ask for simple information in return.
Don’t Ask Questions Like These!
When you meet someone for the first time, it’s very important that the questions you ask are not too personal. Here are some questions NOT to ask:
“How old are you?”
“What’s your address?”
“What’s your phone number?” (if you want to stay in contact, ask first “Is it ok if we stay in contact?”)
“Are you married?” (or any question about romantic relationships)
Introducing Yourself At Work
When you meet new people at work, it’s more common for a third person to introduce you, instead of introducing yourself. Still, the questions are very similar! You should offer your hand to shake. Small talk is important! Smile, ask questions, answer questions, and you’ll meet people that might become good friends.
Charles: Mary, I’d like you to meet John. He’s the new fifth grade teacher.
Mary: It’s nice to meet you, John. I teach music.
John: Nice to meet you too, Mary. How long have you worked here?
Mary: This is my third year. Have you taught fifth grade before?
John: Yes. I taught fifth grade in Chicago for five years.
When you meet someone, it’s very important to try and give positive answers. Read John and Mary’s conversations again and notice that they are very positive. You want people to remember that you are someone they would like to talk to again.
Remember This One Important Thing
The most important thing for you to do when you meet someone new doesn’t need words, and you don’t even need to practice. What is it? Smile!
When you smile, you tell the other person that you are happy to meet them. Enjoy the conversation and try not to worry if you can’t think of the right words. Most people will understand that you are learning English and they will be patient. Practice your answers to simple questions, ask simple questions, and smile. You’ll know tons of people before you know it!
When you meet someone for the first time, you’ll probably say “Nice to meet you.” But situations when you shouldn’t say this. Want to know what those situations are? Click here to read more!