Dialogues for Small Talk and Introductions

Part I: Read the following dialogue and answer the dialogue analysis questions that follow.

Situation: Two foreign students are sitting at a counter in a restaurant waiting to be served. The waiter is very busy with other customers. After a few minutes, one student turns to the other and speaks.

Characters: Ali is an 18-year-old student from Saudi Arabia. He has come to the United States to study English for a year and then will return to his country. Maria is a 19-year-old student from Venezuela. She will study English for five months and then go to Columbia University in New York to study engineering.

Small Talk Dialogue

Maria: The service is really slow here. I've been trying to get the waiter's attention for the last ten minutes.
Ali: I hope he waits on us soon. I have a class at two o'clock.
Maria: Me, too. I recognize that English book. You must be a student at the English Language Center.
Ali: Yeah. I'm in the fourth course. Are you studying there?
Maria: Yes, I'm in the fifth course. I took the fourth course last month.
Ali: I just came here two weeks ago. Do you like the institute?
Maria: It's pretty good. I think I've learned a lot of English so far.
Ali: Yeah. I only wish the classes were a little smaller, though, because we don't get enough chance to talk. But I like my teachers a lot.
Maria: How long are you going to be here?
Ali: I guess a year, but sometimes I feel like going home tomorrow.
Maria: You'll get used to it. Where are you from?
Ali: Saudi Arabia. How about you?
Maria: Venezuela. I'm only staying here three more months. Then I go to Columbia University in New York.
Ali: By the way, my name's Ali.
Maria: Hi. I'm Maria.
Ali: Hi. Oh, here comes the waiter. It looks like we're going to get served after all.
Maria: Good. I'm starving.

Dialogue Analysis

  1. What led up to the opening of the conversation between Maria and Ali?
  2. Did Maria start the conversation by introducing herself?
  3. What did she say to start the conversation?
  4. How did Ali show he was interested in talking to Maria?
  5. What other things did they talk about before telling each other their names?
  6. What expressions did Ali use to casually introduce himself?
  7. Why didn't Ali ask Maria her age or telephone number?
  8. Would you start a conversation with someone in a student cafeteria? In what situations do you feel comfortable talking to strangers?

Part II: Read the following dialogue and answer the dialogue analysis questions that follow.

Situation: Maria and Ali are eating their lunch when a friend of Maria's, Tom, comes up.

Introductions Dialogue

Tom: Hi, Maria.
Maria: Oh, hi, Tom! Do you want to join us?
Tom: Sure.
Maria: Ali, this is my friend Tom. He lives in the apartment across from mine. Ali's from Saudi Arabia. He's studying at the English Language Center.
Tom: Hi, Ali. Nice to meet you.
Ali: You, too.
Tom: How long have you been in the United States?

Dialogue Analysis

  1. Maria not only introduces Tom and Ali, but she also gives information about each of them. Why is that helpful?
  2. If Tom were just passing by, do you think Maria would still introduce him to Ali?
  3. What expression does Tom use when he is introduced to Ali? How does Ali respond?
  4. What might give you the impression that Tom is a friendly person?

Points to Remember

  1. When you first meet most American's, it's impolite to talk about certain things such as salary, age, sex, and religion.
  2. Introduce yourself casually in informal situations. As the conversation develops, a simple introduction , such as "By the way, my name is..." is generally considered sufficient.
  3. If a friend comes along and stops to talk, informally introduce him or her to the person you are talking to. It is helpful to provide some information about each of them so that each will 1) know what your relationship is to the other person (friend, neighbor, wife, brother, teacher) and 2) have some information with which to begin a conversation.
  4. When we are introduced to someone informally, we usually respond with "Nice to meet you" or "Hi, how are you?" "How do you do?" is used in more formal situations and the response to this expression is generally "How do you do?"