Small talk (making questions)

Lesson plan overview

With this A2-B1 lesson, students will learn and practice making small talk. It is focused on grammar – students will learn how to make open-ended questions and yes/no questions, as well the concept of follow-up questions to keep the conversation going. It can be used both with General English and Business English students. You can check other pre-intermediate and intermediate video-based lesson plans here.
Speaking: The lesson starts with 8 photos showing different situations in which people usually make small talk. Students discuss different questions related to the photos (e.g. What might the people be talking about?). Then, students are introduced to the expression “small talk” and are asked to choose the correct definition for it. Then, they take a look at a list of topics, and choose the topics that are appropriate small talk topics. Next, they discuss the importance of small talk in everyday and business contexts.
Vocabulary: Students read 7 sentences about the importance of small talk and learn expressions related to small talk (e.g. build rapport, break the ice, networking, brighten the mood). They match the expressions to their definitions. Next, they choose the sentences that best describe how they feel about small talk (e.g. For me personally, making small talk is scary and frustrating. I find it hard to strike up conversations, especially with strangers.)
Listening: Students take a look at extracts from the video they are about to watch and try to complete the gaps with suitable words. Then they watch the video “How to make small talk” and check their answers.
Grammar: After the listening, the lesson continues with the grammar part. First, students look at the difference between open-ended and yes/no questions. Then, they are given 18 questions (often used in small talk) and are asked to decide if the questions are open-ended or Yes/No questions. After that, they choose 3 questions to ask a partner. Next, students analyze the questions and draw conclusions about the word order of different types of questions in English.
Practice: In the next activity, students are asked to put the words in order and make correct questions. After that, they are given answers and are asked to write suitable questions. Finally, students learn the concept of follow-up questions. After a short explanation, they are given 6 follow-up questions and are asked to match them to the short dialogues from the previous activity. Finally, students look at the photos they saw at the beginning of the lesson, and choose 3 situations to role-play, using the methods presented in the video, and making questions to keep the conversation going.
To revise the target vocabulary from this lesson, you can use the printable conversation cards.

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Teacher’s lesson plan

Student’s worksheet

Student’s interactive PDF

Conversation cards PDF

Pre-class activities

To send the pre-class activities to your students, copy the link below.

Vocabulary matching


The first time you watch the video, pay special attention to the correct pronunciation of the following words:

The rules of small talk.
Secondly, give more information than the questioner asked for.
I live in England but I come from a small village in the Welsh Valleys.
And fifthly, sound interested in what the other person is saying.

Comprehension questions

In-class activities

Teacher’s lesson plan
Student’s worksheet

Conversation cards PDF

Student’s interactive PDF

Additional resources

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