The term "functional" should be considered in the broad sense of providing learners with the skills and abilities they need to take an active and responsible role in their communities, everyday life, the workplace and educational settings. Functional English requires learners to communicate in ways that make them effective and involved as citizens, to operate confidently and to convey their ideas and opinions clearly.
One of the chief reasons why people want to learn a foreign language is this: They want to be able to “do things” in that language. That is, they want to “agree or disagree with someone”, “accept or reject an offer”, “deny something”, “express likes/dislikes”, “offer food and drink”, “compliment someone” and do a lot of things like these. In other words, they want to use that language and perform a number of “everyday communicative functions”.
Functions like these are everyday functions, because you’ll have to perform these functions whenever you deal with people. In fact, you’ll have to perform each of these functions not once, but several times, every day.
How to start a conversation
Conversations, formal or informal, are an indispensable part of everyday communication. Whether it is a dialogue with a stranger or an acquaintance striking a conversation is an art by itself. A good conversationalist should focus on the following parameters.
Tips of starting a good conversation
- Start with a “hello”, and simply tell the new person your name then ask them theirs. Offer your hand to shake, upon his/her responding to you.
- Look around. See if there is any thing worth pointing out. Sure, talking about the weather is a cliché, but if there’s something unusual about it…….. You’ve got a great topic of conversation.
- Be interesting to others. In order to make interesting conversation, you must be interesting to others. Keeping yourself informed on current events, staying involved in activities, and keeping a mentalist of good topics of discussion are excellent ways to break the ice, and also a great tool to help you learn how to start a conversation with almost anybody.
- Offer a compliment. A sincere compliment is a wonderful way to get someone to warm up to you. But be careful not to say something so personal that you scare the person off or make him or her feel uncomfortable. It is best not to compliment a person’s looks or body.
- Ask questions! Most people love to talk about themselves---get them going.” What classes are you taking this year?” but don’t talk about yourself too much that makes you seem full of yourself again, keep the questions light and not invasive. Do not ask too many questions if she/he is not responsive to them.
- Look your new found friend in the eye, it engenders trust (but don’t stare). Also use the person’s name a time or two during the conversation; it will help you remember the name, and will draw the person’s attention to what you are talking about. Smile a lot, and laugh when any quip is made by the other person.
- Don’t forget to smile and have fun with your conversation!
So you should just be yourself and ask the question that you would think be the right thing to say but, give yourself some time to think about what you say before you say it.
Don’t be overly invasive with questions.
- Don’t use tons of fillers like “imm’ or “soo”. It might make the person you are talking to feel awkward or obligated to say something. Instead talk slowly and pause. This will create a little tension and make your newly found friend more invested in your conversation.
- Don’t desperately ask personal questions.
- Never swear, insult, disrespect, use racial, religious, sexual orientation, and gender slurs in front of others (Unless you know who they are and if they have the same views on things as you.)
- Never act arrogantly and pretend to be a ‘know it all’ when dealing with people.
- Do not speak, behave or dress immaturely
- Never ever interrupt a conversation between one or more people. Wait for the conversation to stop and then say something. Common courtesy goes a long way.
- Respect those around you.
- Be neat, well dressed and groomed. Sloppiness, bad breath and body odor will get you no where.
- Sometimes when you start a conversation, the person you’re talking with might think you’re boring. But it’s okay! Head onto someone else, because sometimes you can pick the wrong person.
These expressions in their variety are meant to help you enrich your spoken and written repertoire. It is not really a handicap to learn some of them by heart on condition that you frequently use them while talking to your classmates or friends or some English speaking people. Gradually those expressions become yours and you will use them normally and naturally. The more you practice them, the better you master them. Take it for granted that the language is first and foremost a means of communication. The more you practice it the more you become perfect. Finally remember that the world would understand and appreciate what you say if you said it the right way.
Expressions for day to day communication
During a normal natural conversation many different expressions are needed to show the speakers level of intellectuality, politeness and coherence. These expressions vary from asking for or giving opinion, inviting, apologizing, complaining, suggesting, advising, asking, or giving permission to using gap-fillers while talking. These tools help the students overcome their reluctance and dive into the discussions among their groups. Here are a few expressions that would help you in your day to day communication.
- What about going to the cinema tonight?
- Why don’t we do our home work?
- Couldn’t we invite your grand mother to your party?
- What would you say to a cup of coffee?
- Don’t you think it is good idea to watch TV?
· Ok. Yes, let’s
· Yes I’d like to
· Yes I ‘d love to
· Why not?
· Yes with pleasure
· Why not?
· No let’s not
· No I’d rather not
· I Don’t feel like
· I dislike doing home work
· What an awful idea
- Can I help you? What shall I do for you?
- Would you like me to check this computer fro errors?
- Shall I bring you a glass of water?
- Do you want me to post a letter fro you?
- I’ll be glad to help?
Accepting an offer
- How kind of you! Thank you very much.
- That’s very good of you
- That’s terribly kind thank you very much
- Yes please do
- Thanks that would be excellent
- Yes please
Rejecting an offer
- It’s alright thanks. I can manage that alone.
- No thank you .But I am very grateful.
- That’s awfully kind, but there is no need. No please don’t bother.
- No thank you.
- I was wondering if you could stay for dinner.
- You must come over
- You must pay us a visit
- You must come back sometime
- I’m going to my uncle’s wedding party next Sunday. Would you like to come?
Accepting the invitation
- Ok. I’d like to!
- Thank you I ‘d like to come
- Well I am not doing any thing then I will come Thanks.
Rejecting the invitation
· I’m afraid I can’t. I’m busy then
· I’m sorry but I can’t. I’m going some where that day.
· I do apologize for ----ing-----
· I must apologize for-----ing----
· I am so sorry for----ing---
· I shouldn’t have
· It’s all my fault
· Please forgive me for ----ing----
· I’m terribly sorry for ----ing---
· Pardon me for this
· Please accept my apologies for ----ing----
Accepting an apology
· That’s alright
· Never mind
· It doesn’t matter
· Don’t worry about that
· That’s ok
· No worries
· Don’t apologize
- Can I go out please?
- May I open the window please?
- Can I have a look at your photo album?
- May I taste that hot spicy couscous dish please?
- Can you close that door please?
- Will you turn the radio please?
- Could you possibly give me the red pen over there?
- Would you mind sending these letters for me please?
- What scares/ frightens me most is------
- My major concern is------
- I can’t help being worried by------
- The problem is-----
- I am afraid-------
- What a shame---
- What a pity----
- How disappointing-----
- How terrible-----
- Excuse me. What was that again?
- Pardon me. Would you mind repeating that/
- Pardon me. Could you repeat that please? I beg your pardon . would you repeat that please?
- May I interrupt? Could you say that gain please?
Giving clarification and checking for understanding
- I mean that-----
- What I mean is that----
- Does that make sense to you?
- Am I clear enough?
- Do you get that?
- Have I made myself clear?
- Do you see what I mean?
Body language is a form of non-verbal communication involving the use of stylized gestures, postures, and physiologic signs which act as cues to other people. Humans, unconsciously, send and receive non-verbal signals all the time Understanding body language
1. Don’t cross your arms or legs – You have probably already heard you shouldn’t cross your arms as it might make you seem defensive or guarded. This goes for your legs too. Keep your arms and legs open.
2. Have eye contact, but don’t stare – If there are several people you are talking to, give them all some eye contact to create a better connection and see if they are listening. Keeping too much eye-contact might creep people out. Giving no eye-contact might make you seem insecure. If you are not used to keeping eye-contact it might feel a little hard or scary in the beginning but keep working on it and you’ll get used to it.
3. Don’t be afraid to take up some space – Taking up space by for example sitting or standing with your legs apart a bit signals self-confidence and that you are comfortable in your own skin.
4. Relax your shoulders – When you feel tense it’s easily winds up as tension in your shoulders. They might move up and forward a bit. Try to relax. Try to loosen up by shaking the shoulders a bit and move them back slightly.
5. Nod when they are talking – nod once in a while to signal that you are listening. But don’t overdo it and peck like Woody Woodpecker.
6. Don’t slouch; sit up straight – but in a relaxed way, not in a too tense manner.
7. Lean, but not too much – If you want to show that you are interested in what someone is saying, lean toward the person talking. If you want to show that you’re confident in yourself and relaxed lean back a bit. But don’t lean in too much or you might seem needy and desperate for some approval. Or lean back too much or you might seem arrogant and distant.
8. Smile and laugh – lighten up, don’t take yourself too seriously. Relax a bit, smile and laugh when someone says something funny. People will be a lot more inclined to listen to you if you seem to be a positive person. But don’t be the first to laugh at your own jokes, it makes you seem nervous and needy. Smile when you are introduced to someone but don’t keep a smile plastered on your face, you’ll see insincere.
9. Don’t touch your face – it might make you seem nervous and can be distracting for the listeners or the people in the conversation.
10. Keep your head up - Don’t keep your eyes on the ground, it might make you seem insecure and a bit lost. Keep your head up straight and your eyes towards the horizon.
11. Slow down a bit – this goes for many things. Walking slower not only makes you seem more calm and confident, it will also make you feel less stressed. If someone addresses you, don’t snap you’re neck in their direction, turn it a bit more slowly instead.
12. Don’t fidget – try to avoid, phase out or transform fidgety movement and nervous ticks such as shaking your leg or tapping your fingers against the table rapidly. You’ll see nervous and fidgeting can be a distracting when you try to get something across. Try to relax, slow down and focus your movements.
13. Use your hands more confidently – instead of fidgeting with your hands and scratching your face use them to communicate what you are trying to say. Use your hands to describe something or to add weight to a point you are trying to make. But don’t use them to much or it might become distracting. And don’t let your hands flail around, use them with some control.
14. Lower your drink – don’t hold your drink in front of your chest. In fact, don’t hold anything in front of your heart as it will make you seem guarded and distant. Lower it and hold it beside your leg instead.
15. Keep a good attitude – last but not least, keep a positive, open and relaxed attitude. How you feel will come through in your body language and can make a major difference. For information on how make yourself feel better read 10 ways to change how you feel and for relaxation try, A very simple way to feel relaxed for 24 hours.
16. Don’t stand too close –one of the things we learned from Seinfeld is that everybody gets weirder out by a close-talker. Let people have their personal space, don’t invade it.