Do you feel nervous and forgetful when talking with English speakers?
When I was studying Spanish, basic conversational skills were the hardest thing for me to learn.
Whenever someone asked me a question, I would freeze up and forget how to talk.
When it came time to hold a Spanish conversation, I would suddenly forget everything I studied. That’s when I realized that I had not been practicing my conversational skills.
I spent six years studying the language at high school and college, but I never got the opportunity chat with actual Spanish speakers.
The mistake that a lot of students, including myself, make when learning a foreign language is forgetting to practice real-world conversational skills.
Instead, we spend our time memorizing vocabulary words and doing workbook activities. And while these exercises are also important, they don’t teach us how to speak naturally.
What You Need to Hold a Basic English Conversation
Being able to have a basic English conversation isn’t hard—you just need to know how to express yourself and start with brief, simple conversations.
To hold a basic conversation, you need to be able to:
- Introduce yourself and share some personal information.
- Talk about your needs and expectations.
- Make future plans.
- Talk about your career and your educational background.
- Hold simple conversations with people you encounter in day-to-day activities, like shopping, going to the bank or going to the doctor’s office.
7 Basic English Conversation Courses
Unless the only reason you’re learning English is to read literature, you’re going to have to communicate with English speakers at some point. Whether traveling abroad, working for an international company or going to an English-speaking university.
Before you become a master English conversationalist, you’re going to need to develop some basic English conversational skills to help you speak confidently and not forget your vocabulary in the moment—like I used to do with Spanish.
The best way to build these skills is to take basic English conversation courses. Great for preparing for an upcoming trip to London or New York, these online English courses can teach you how to talk about yourself, ask for help and hold simple conversations with people you’ll encounter throughout a normal day.
Here are some courses that will get you chatting in English in no time.
Topics Covered: Small talk, feelings and opinions, day-to-day activities and interests
SKESL’s Beginner Conversation Course is great for ESL students trying to build their basic conversational skills.
The course is filled with helpful content, as well as audio clips of English conversations, dialogues and comprehension quizzes. In fact, it’s probably one of the most comprehensive free courses you’ll come across on the internet.
The course has 10 units, and each unit covers a certain topic and has a total of 20 conversations. The beginner conversation course has 200 conversations in all.
Topics Covered: Introductions, work-related topics, casual and formal conversations
The BBC’s Learning English Courses aren’t just great for learning how to hold conversations, they’re also perfect for building your vocabulary and improving your grammar.
In terms of conversational English, this English Course for Lower-Intermediate Students teaches you how to introduce yourself, ask and answer questions and hold basic conversations with English speakers. It even has a unit that teaches the difference between formal and informal speaking, which is good to know if you ever plan on working or studying in an English-speaking country.
Another good thing about the BBC course is that it comes with videos of people speaking English naturally, as well as transcripts and short activities to test you on what you’ve learned.
Topics Covered: Everything
The nice thing about learning English with FluentU is how you’re able to study using a variety of resources—they have a huge library of videos and clips to reinforce your learning.
And since everything is arranged by difficulty, as well as topics like culture, business, entertainment, health and more, you can easily find a different conversation every time you study.
Topics Covered: Making plans, talking about yourself
Speak English with Confidence is a paid online conversational course by Udemy that teaches you how to hold basic English conversations and improve your pronunciation and listening skills.
The course is divided into a total of nine units, each covering a different topic like introductions, work-related conversations, interests and more. What’s nice about this course is that you’re able to start at the beginner’s level and advance to intermediate conversational English as you complete the course.
Also, Speak English with Confidence is one of the most comprehensive conversational English courses on the internet. It comes with the following resources to help you learn:
- Five hours of educational videos
- 56 articles covering conversational English
- 248 extra resources to help you study
- Interactive exercises and activities
And best of all, after finishing the course, you’re given a certificate of completion that you can use when applying to an English-speaking job or educational program.
Topics Covered: Using English expressions and casual conversations
TalkEnglish is a free language-learning where students can improve their English skills. Its English Speaking Basics course is for beginner ESL students who want to practice their basic English conversational skills.
Perfect for learners who are just learning how to communicate with English speakers, this course teaches students how to use English expressions that are commonly used in conversations, like:
- “I wanna + (verb)”
- “You seem + (adjective)”
- “I were you, I would + (verb)”
The course is broken up into three sections, each one a little more difficult than the previous section. Every section has a list of expressions that you can click on.
After clicking on an expression, you’ll get an explanation on how to use the expression in conversation, as well as a list of sample sentences and short audio clips of these sentences being spoken by an English speaker.
Topic Covered: Learning English, using expressions and general conversation
All Ears English is a podcast for helping ESL students improve their speaking and listening skills. The podcast is run by three English teachers named Lindsay, Michelle and Jessica, who talk about a number of exciting topics, like important study habits every student should have and how to respond to a funny joke.
One of my favorite episodes is How to Respond to “What Are You Up To?” in English, which teaches you how to respond to this commonly-used greeting by talking about how you’ve been.
What makes All Ears English different from other conversation courses is that the podcast typically covers how to become a better English student. But instead of talking like how a teacher would lecture the class, the podcast takes a conversational approach that uses slang and humor to teach conversational English.
Topics Covered: Day-to-day activities and general conversation topics
Daily English Conversation is a YouTube channel that teaches you the basics of conversational English by having you listen and repeat sentences.
Best for students who have a little extra time to spend studying, the videos on this channel are often more than an hour long. But if you’re someone who enjoys programs that teach English with audio clips, you’ll find this channel to be incredibly useful.
In most videos, you’ll find a conversation between two or more English speakers, as well as a script so you can follow along. There are a number of topics covered in one conversation video, and by clicking “read more” on the video’s description, you can skip to specific topics that you want to listen to.
The Daily English Conversation videos include a mixture of basic and more advanced English conversation topics, making it a great resource for students of all levels.
And if you’re looking for a couple of good videos to start out with, take a look at Learn English Conversation for Beginners: Basic English and Most Common Questions.
With the help of these basic English conversation courses, you’ll never have to worry about freezing up in a conversation again.
After a little bit of practice, you’ll start to feel more confident about your speaking skills and holding English conversations will start to feel natural to you.
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It recommends examples and videos to you based on the words you’ve already learned. You'll have a truly personalized experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.