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  1. 1. NOTE: These articles would be the contents of “WORKPLACE ENGLISH”. I also attached a file therewhich includes some of the lessons you could post under “RESOURCES” tabs.ORAL ENGLISH: Making Small TalkWhat is Small Talk? What is it about? When does it happen?In most English-speaking countries, it is normal and necessary to make "small talk" in certain situations.Small talk is a casual form of conversation that "breaks the ice" or fills an awkward silence between people.Just as there are certain times when small talk is appropriate, there are also certain topics that people oftendiscuss during these moments. The hardest part about making small talk is knowing how to start aconversation.WHO makes small talk?People with many different relationships use small talk. The most common type of people to use small talkare those who do not know each other at all. Though we often teach children not to talk to strangers, adultsare expected to say at least a few words in certain situations. It is also common for people who are onlyacquaintances, often called a "friend of a friend", to use small talk. Other people who have short casualconversations are office employees who may not be good friends but work in the same department.Customer service representatives, waitresses, hairdressers and receptionists often make small talk withcustomers.WHAT do people make small talk about?There are certain "safe" topics that people usually make small talk about. The weather is probably thenumber one thing that people who do not know each other well discuss. Sometimes even friends and familymembers discuss the weather when they meet or start a conversation. Another topic that is generally safe iscurrent events. As long as you are not discussing a controversial issue, such as a recent law concerning equalrights, it is usually safe to discuss the news. Sports news is a very common topic, especially if a local team orplayer is in a tournament or play-off or doing extremely well or badly. Entertainment news, such as acelebrity who is in town, is another good topic. If there is something that you and the other speaker has incommon, that may also be acceptable to talk about. There are also some subjects that are not consideredacceptable when making small talk. Discussing personal information such as salaries or a recent divorce isnot done between people who do not know each other well. Compliments on clothing or hair are acceptable;however, you should never say something (good or bad) about a persons body. Negative comments aboutanother person not involved in the conversation are also not acceptable: when you do not know a personwell you cannot be sure who their friends are. You do not talk about private issues either, because you do notknow if you can trust the other person with your secrets or personal information. Also, it is not safe to
  2. 2. discuss subjects that society deems controversial such as religion or politics.WHERE do people make small talk?People make small talk just about anywhere, but there are certain places where it is very common. Mostoften, small talk occurs in places where people are waiting for something. For example, you might chat withanother person who is waiting for the bus to arrive, or to the person beside you waiting to get on anaeroplane. People also make small talk in a doctors or dentists waiting room, or in queues at the grocerystore. At the office, people make small talk in elevators or lunchrooms and even in restrooms, especially ifthere is a line-up. Some social events (such as a party) require small talk among guests who do not knoweach other very well.WHEN do people make small talk?The most common time for small talk to occur is the first time you see or meet someone on a given day. Forexample, if you see a co-worker in the lounge you might say hello and discuss the sports or weather.However, the next time you see each other you might just smile and say nothing. If there is very little noise,that might be an indication that it is the right time to initiate a casual conversation. You should only spark upa conversation after someone smiles and acknowledges you. Do not interrupt two people in order to discusssomething unimportant such as the weather. If someone is reading a book or writing a letter at the bus stopit is not appropriate to initiate a conversation either.WHY do people make small talk?There are a few different reasons why people use small talk. The first, and most obvious, is to break anuncomfortable silence. Another reason, however, is simply to fill time. That is why it is so common to makesmall talk when you are waiting for something. Some people make small talk in order to be polite. You maynot feel like chatting with anyone at a party, but it is rude to just sit in a corner by yourself. After someoneintroduces you to another person, you do not know anything about them, so in order to show a polite interestin getting to know them better, you have to start with some small talk.If you cant make small talk then you will have difficulty in approaching people. Just think about all thepossibilities this eliminates.Speaking Exercise:Break up into pairs or small groups to initiate practice conversations. For example, standing at the bus stop,seeing someone in a shop or meeting new people at a party.
  3. 3. Small Talk Situations:Situation 1: The first date...You and your date are sitting at a cafe after having seen a movie. This is always a tricky one because yoursmall talk should lead to interesting conversation and make a great first impression (assuming you like yourdate).Ask a lot of questionsAsking your date many questions is always a safe thing to do, since not only does it help you get to know herand provides the basis of good conversation, but asking questions is also a turn-on for women.Questions show that you have a genuine interest in your date, as long as you show her that you also listen toher responses (she may quiz you later, believe me).Ask her questions that are:* Work-related: what she does; how she likes it; how long shes been working there, etc.* Family-related: what her familys like; what they do; whether theyre close, etc.* Hobby-related: what she likes to do in her spare time; what she does on weekends, etc.* Pop culture-related: what kind of music she likes; what her favourite movie is; whether she liked the movieyou just saw, etc.First-date conversation topics can be a whole article unto itself, but in a nutshell, keep the conversation light,interesting and avoid anything philosophical, sexual and personal.Situation 2: The acquaintance...Youre at your best friends engagement party, and a man who looks familiar approaches you and startstalking to you. You just want to scope out the single women and make your way to the bar for more vodkashots, but this guy is awkwardly standing next to you.Talk about who you know and what you have in commonIf you have common ground with a stranger, use it to your advantage. Dont take the opportunity to gossipand bad mouth your mutual friends, rather use it in order to fill up space and maybe make a friend whileyoure at it.If youre at an engagement party, for example, say how happy you are for the couple, and ask questionsabout the persons relationship with the bride or groom, like how long theyve known each other.And if you know hes a member of the same golf club, talk about your drive, slice and what happened at theclub the other day.Situation 3: The manager / colleague...
  4. 4. Youre at your companys corporate Christmas party, and youre sitting at the same table with yourdepartment -- which translates into your colleagues and managers.How do you make small talk with your manager, who only talks at you while barking orders?Stay informed with news and pop cultureEven though you want to make it look like you take your job seriously, its a good idea to show your managerthat you still have time to watch the news, read the paper and see movies. In other words, that you maketime to stay informed and that youre a well-rounded man. Your life should not only consist of the codes,laws and rules that you encounter at work.Make small talk by mentioning whatevers in the news lately. "Did you hear about what happened inEngland?" Or ask your manager whether hes seen the latest James Bond flick.When talking about current affairs, try to avoid political topics; so if you know your boss is a devoutRepublican, dont tell a George W. Bush joke, no matter how funny you think it is.Source: ENGLISH: Persuasive SpeakingDelivering a Persuasive SpeechSometimes we have to use skills to convince others about our positions, this is called persuasion.In English we need to remember that how we say something and how we present ourselves are justas important as what we say.Appear RationalWhen we are trying to convince someone of something, we must first establish our credibility, or inother words, we must sell ourselves before we sell the "message".We should not use words such as "maybe" or "might", we should use positive words such as "will"and "must".We must supply enough information to prove our points so that we seem knowledgeable.We should also appear to be truthful, even when we are really stretching a point.
  5. 5. Do not be afraid to show a little emotion. You and your voice must match the tone of the words.Remember:Body languageArticulationPronunciationPitchPausesVolumeQualityVarianceThe speed, or pace, is also very important for delivering a persuasive speech. Between 140-160 words perminute is the normal pace for a persuasive speech.ACTIVITY 1: With a partner: Try to persuade your partner to go to a party with you, which is hosted bysomeone that they dont like.ACTIVITY 2: Try to persuade your partner to let you copy their homework, but your partner doesnt likecheating!ACTIVITY 3: Choose a statement that not everyone would agree with (E.G. "women should clean the house").The goal of this speech is to change someones mind or way of thinking about a topic.How to be More Persuasive: There are 3 Ways to Persuade Someone:Emotional Reasons / ArgumentsEthical Reasons / ArgumentsLogical Reasons / ArgumentsPersuasive Techniques:Repetition (repeat many times)
  6. 6. Restatement (repeat the idea, in another way)Parallelism (rhythmic repetition of a key word)Announcement (precede important points with a statement)Non Verbal Strategies:GesturesEye ContactFacial ExpressionsAppropriate ClothingSource: ENGLISH: Expressing OpinionsHOW DO YOU SEPARATE FACT FROM OPINION?FACTS: According to the dictionary, a fact is "anything that is done or happens; anything actuallyexistent; any statement strictly true; truth; reality."Three examples of facts include:1.The house was painted on November 18, 1999.2.Today is Saturday.3.The temperature was twenty-two degrees this morning.OPINIONS: An opinion is defined as "indicating a belief, view, sentiment, conception." Obvious indicators ofopinion are when sentences include words such as:"Generally, it is thought…" / "I believe that…"CHANGING FACTS TO OPINIONSFacts can be changed to opinions by adding a belief or view.For example:1. The house was painted recently on November 18, 1999, so it looks as good as new.2. Today is Saturday and Mark always sleeps in on Saturdays, so that is why he is late for the football game.
  7. 7. STATING OPINIONS & PREFERENCES:I think..., In my opinion..., Id like to..., Id rather..., Id prefer..., The way I see it..., As far as Imconcerned..., If it were up to me..., I suppose..., I suspect that..., Im pretty sure that..., It is fairlycertain that..., Im convinced that..., I honestly feel that, I strongly believe that..., Without a doubt,...DISAGREEING:I dont think that..., Dont you think it would be better..., I dont agree, Id prefer..., Shouldnt weconsider..., But what about..., Im afraid I dont agree..., Frankly, I doubt if..., Lets face it, The truthof the matter is..., The problem with your point of view is that...GIVING REASONS AND OFFERING EXPLANATIONS:To start with, The reason why..., Thats why..., For this reason..., Thats the reason why..., Manypeople think...., Considering..., Allowing for the fact that..., When you consider that...Source: ENGLISH: American English v British EnglishSpelling DifferencesGenerally American English -or as a word ending is equivalent to -our in British English.American -er as a word ending is sometimes equivalent to -re in British English.If a verb ends in a single l then the American -ing, -ed and -er forms also have a single l whereasthe British forms have a double ll. For example American English has signaler, signaling and signaledwhereas British English has signaller, signalling and signalled.American English tends to prefer -ize and -ization whereas British English prefers -ise and -isation.There are, of course, exceptions to the above rules. American usage is "glamour" not "glamor" and"advertising" not "advertizing". British usage has "honorary" and "honorific" without the "u"When spelling out words (and phone numbers) it is British practice to say things such as "double e"for "ee" and "triple / treble 3" for "333".
  8. 8. Common Spelling Differences:American Britishaluminum aluminiumanalog analogueanesthesia anaesthesiaarcheology archaeologycatalog cataloguecenter centrecolor colourdefense defencedialog dialoguedonut doughnutencyclopedia encyclopaediafavorite favouritegray greygynecology gynaecologyhonor honourhumor humourjewelry jewellerylicense licencemeter metremold mouldmustache moustache
  9. 9. nite nightomelet omelettepajamas pyjamaspractice practiseprogram programmerouting routeingspecialty specialitystory storeysulfur sulphurthru throughtire tyreSource: (by Peter Burden)
  10. 10. Shop Safely - How to Protect Yourself When ShoppingOnlineby: Clive ChansaOnline shopping offers many benefits that you won’t find shopping in a brick and mortar store orby mail. The Internet is always open seven days a week and 24 hours a day. Internet-only dealsand bargains can be numerous online. Shopping on the Internet is no less safe than shopping in astore or by mail. Keep the following tips in mind to help ensure that your online shoppingexperience is a safe one.1. While Online Order Only On A Secure Server.Use a secure browser and shop only at websites that offer encryption protection. A protectedwebsite will have one or more of these three features:a) The small lock or key symbol at the bottom of your browser window;b) An address that starts with https ("s" for "secure") instead of just http; andc) A security warning box that pops up at the point of purchase.Your browser should comply with industry security standards, such as Secure Sockets Layer(SSL). These standards scramble the purchase information you send over the Internet, helping tosecure your transaction.2. Pay The Safest Way.Use a credit card or Debit Card with a safe online shopping guarantee. Look for a card withspecific guarantees, like 100% coverage for any losses due to fraud when shopping on theInternet. Many companies offer an online shopping guarantee that ensures you will not be heldresponsible for any unauthorized charges made online, and some cards may provide additionalwarranty, return and/or purchase protection benefits.3. Protect Your Privacy.Look for and read a websites privacy and security policy. Stay clear of a website that eitherdoesnt have one or does not guarantee your personal information will not be sold. This policyshould disclose what information is being collected on the Web site and how that information isbeing used.4. Know Who Youre Dealing With.Research your merchant. Look at the ratings consumers give them and stay clear of websites thateither arent listed or receive poor marks. Shop with companies you know. Anyone can set upshop online under almost any name. If you’re not familiar with a merchant, ask for a papercatalogue or brochure to get a better idea of their merchandise and services. Also, determine thecompany’s refund and return policies before you place your order. These should be posted on thecompany’s Web site.5. Keep A Record.Print out a copy of your order and confirmation number for your records. Reputable merchantswill usually send you an email confirming your order. However a hard copy is always good tohave in case your order is lost, deleted or not delivered as promised.6. Guard Your Online Password.Keep your password(s) private. Be creative when you establish a password, and never share yourwebsite passwords with anyone. Write them down and store them in a safe place. Avoid using atelephone number, birth date or a portion of your Social Security number. Instead, use acombination of numbers, letters and symbols. Do not use the same username and password atevery website. Should your personal information be compromised, a thief wont get very far ifyou use different passwords and usernames on different websites.7. Track Your Purchases.Use only one credit card to shop with online. This helps keep track of your online purchasesduring the holidays, and will make it easier to spot purchases that are fraudulent. Look for a card