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Continue the English Conversation, Plus a Shout Out to our Boston Immersion Students.
Announcer: This is an All Ears English podcast Episode 1021: “Continue the English Conversation, Plus a Shout Out to our Boston Immersion Students.”
Announcer: Welcome to the All Ears English Podcast, downloaded more than 50 million times. We believe in Connection NOT Perfection ™, with your American hosts Lindsay McMahon, the ‘English Adventurer’, and Michelle Kaplan, the ‘New York Radio Girl,’ coming to you from Boston and New York City, U.S.A.
Announcer: And to get your transcripts delivered by email every week, go to AllEarsEnglish.com/subscribe.
Announcer: We just completed the Urban Immersion Adventure in Boston. Today, hear what inspired us about these amazing students, plus get three ways to keep the conversation going and to connect.
Lindsay: Hey (hi) Jessica, we have just completed the Urban Immersion Adventure in Boston and you have gotten a little bit sick.
Jessica: I had, like, a little bit of a cough before, and then I just lost most of my voice. I lost it in Boston, which I’m totally fine with, I’m totally happy with, because it was such an amazing experience.
Lindsay: It was so cool. And I loved at the end on Sunday. So, we had our four students. We had Lillian, Rodrigo, Juan and Anna, from all different parts of the world, and I love how on Sunday during our review activity we heard about some of the shifts in people’s mindsets that happened over the weekend.
Jessica: These were huge. These were, like, groundbreaking shifts. It’s not just, like, “I learned how to start a conversation about traveling.” or whatever.
It was like you said, a mental shift. Like going from believing one thing about yourself at the beginning of the weekend to believing a different thing about yourself at the end. Right?
Jessica: This whole perspective on not just, like, their ability to speak English, but on how they can and want to and will connect with other people.
Lindsay: Exactly, and that’s so much more powerful than just a few vocabulary words and phrases. Right? I mean, that’s what we were looking for when we sat down in that review. But we got the deeper shifts that happened, and that is really what this Urban Immersion Adventure, all of our weekend live events, that’s what they’re about. They’re about showing you guys a new version of yourself, letting you see that you can speak English when you don’t know all the information, when you’re not perfect.
Jessica: Exactly. And being able to access that ability in yourself, it’s not just about English, it’s about so many other things in your life. Right? Like losing this expectation of perfection, losing this pressure on yourself and being able to just move forward with confidence. If we can do that in English, if you can be this person in English, you could be this person in so many other aspects of your life.
Lindsay: Exactly, I love it. And I so respect our students who took the time, you know, they took time off work, they flew to Boston, they got an Airbnb and they dedicated themselves to this weekend. I want to say congratulations to our four students who joined us. That was amazing, and sometimes that’s what it takes. You know what I mean? If you want to change your patterns around English, you want to go in a new direction, it takes full immersion.
Jessica: Ohh, for sure, for sure. I can’t count the number of times you and I would be, like, talking about the program in between activities or throughout the day. We would just stop and say, “I am so inspired by these students.”
Lindsay: Yeah (yes).
Jessica: I mean, it was just mind-blowing. These four students are very inspirational people, and we’re so lucky to get to spend time with them over the weekend.
Lindsay: Ohh my God, so lucky. What was your favorite part of the weekend, Jessica? Was there any particular activity or day or anything that really stood out in your mind?
Jessica: Ohh my gosh. You know what? This is funny, but I actually really loved the time, like, the transportation time, the transfer time, like, between activities. Because that’s when I get to, like, we get to walk with the students and just really chat about anything that comes up. Any questions they have for us and where that conversation goes, you never know. So, I really like this, like, the spontaneous conversations that happened throughout the weekend. What about you? What was your favorite thing?
Lindsay: I think I really liked the part of Saturday when we had just finished the drama lab. Because that is a big piece of the weekend that everyone hears about before they come. They know they’re going to have it, and some people are a little nervous about it, right? But once they overcome that and they see a new version of themselves in the drama lab, then I really enjoyed sitting for a coffee with the group. Right? Because it felt like they had seen a new version of themselves, and after that we were able to go to an outdoor movie and we could just relax. Our group had come closer together, gotten to know each other better, and the chemistry was there, and we were able to just enjoy a coffee in a traditional Cambridge cafe. I loved that.
Jessica: Ohh, it was fantastic. Just a quick shout out to Juan during the drama lab.
He was so hilarious, the amount of personality. Again, it’s just like discovering who you are in English, discovering this new world of opportunity, of possibility. Right? Like, these students were even surprised themselves, I think, at just what came out. You know, when you push yourself and just are open to exploring English and your own, how you communicate. Right?
Lindsay: Yeah (yes).
Jessica: They’re surprised at what came out. It was so fun, ohh, drama lab. I love drama lab.
Lindsay: I love it, I love it. But you know, of course, the technical pieces of language did come out this weekend. We played games where we worked on our grammar, we worked on our vocabulary. We had the speed dating with the natives, and that’s what I wanted to talk about a little bit today, Jessica. One specific thing that was a comment from one of our native speakers, Mallory, who joined us during the speed dating, she actually had a comment about, you know, how students could continue the conversation. Right? Because in that activity we give you guys a list of twelve questions to ask, but instead of just going back to the question when a conversation ends, you can extend the conversation. Right?
Lindsay: And that’s what I know a lot of our listeners want to get better at anyway.
So, why don’t we dive into that today? What do you think?
Jessica: Yes, fantastic.
Jessica: Guys, we have three, like, really specific ways that you guys could continue the conversation. Because I think this is a lot of what came out of this weekend, right? Being able to lose the fear and the anxiety in your head and be able to continue the conversation with a native speaker about anything. So, reflecting on this weekend, guys, we came up with three really great strategies that you guys could use to continue conversations in any language, not just English.
Lindsay: I love it, I love it. So, the first one is kind, is the easiest, most accessible one. Right? One of the questions was, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” That was one of the questions on a speed dating sheet. Right? If I ask you that, Jessica, then you could come back and say to me at the end, after I answer it, what could you say?
Jessica: Well, after you answer it…
Lindsay: Or vice versa. Exactly.
Jessica: Yeah (yes).
Lindsay: To continue the conversation.
Jessica: “And how about you?” Right?
Jessica: So, after giving your answer, guys, and this works for anything, like, anytime someone asks you a question, right? And you provide an answer, don’t just stop there. Ask the other person questions. This is how we continue. So, this is a great question to end your answer with, to invite that person to volunteer their own answer. Right? “And how about you?”
Lindsay: Yeah (yes). I mean, we don’t need, I think what a lot of our listeners struggle with is furiously in our mind searching for material. Right? To continue.
Jessica: Yeah (yes), yeah (yes), yeah (yes).
Lindsay: But the material’s right here, just tagging onto that same question. And another way you could ask the same thing is just by saying “And you?”
Jessica: Yeah (yes), yeah (yes), totally. I love this. I think this is such a natural way to continue the conversation, you guys, that native speakers who are good at conversation, because not everybody is, like, at ease socially, right? So again, like, it’s not just an English thing. Sometimes it’s just a fear of being social thing, and so, guys, you don’t have to search your mind for the perfect conversation or the perfect answer, just worry about your own answer. Remember there’s another person here besides you, there’s another person involved in this conversation. Right? So, take some of the focus off yourself, and remember, you need to be focusing on this other person as well, inviting them into the conversation, because that’s the connection. Right? Getting out of our own heads and inviting the other person to connect with us.
Lindsay: Yeah (yes), you’re right. And I think that’s what a lot of our listeners found this weekend, right?
Lindsay: It’s connection. It’s not being on stage, right? When you’re in this conversation, it’s connecting with that person in front of you. They had a chance to do it with native speakers that we brought into the program with us and with each other, and with locals around Boston. Right?
Lindsay: So, they had a variety of connection opportunities, but I think they were able to find a way to bring it back to connection and getting away from that mentality of, “Ohh my gosh, I have to come up with everything and I have to be perfect.”
Jessica: Right. Exactly. Well, these challenges that they had, we’ll get to the number two strategy in just a second, but I just remembered, like, another one of my favorite things that the students did. One of the first activities was to do sort of a scavenger hunt. This, like, challenge where they had to go around specific neighborhoods in Boston and talk to native speakers and find out information. And that’s, like, one of the first activities. We, like, throw them into the city and it’s intimidating. I could see it on some of their faces before they began, like, “Ohh my God, what am I doing?
Like, what is happening?” But then this feeling of accomplishment when they came back, you know?
Jessica: I think all of them said this, but I remember Lillian and Anna saying this more specifically, just like, “Everybody was really nice. Like, everybody was really kind.” So, I think people are a lot nicer and easier to talk to than we think.
Lindsay: Absolutely. We like to throw our students into that neighborhood challenge right from the beginning; it is probably one of the most challenging just because of when it happens. But guys, sometimes you just gotta jump in.
Jessica: It’s fantastic.
Announcer: Guys, if you’re listening to today’s episode, maybe you didn’t have a chance to attend the Immersion Event in Boston this year, but this webinar coming up next week is going to show you how to build many of those same deep English conversation skills that we worked on in Boston.
Go to AllEarsEnglish.com/magnet. That’s AllEarsEnglish.com/MAGNET to claim your spot for the webinar now, and we’ll see you there.
Jessica: So, the second way, guys, and this could be used to connect to strangers or people you just met, people you’ve known for a long time, if you want to create a connection, you need to offer something personal about yourself. Right? And then that signals the other person that they can do the same. Right? So, like, if you are sharing, if you’re answering, like, a humdrum question, like, a normal sort of question, you could say, “You know, the reason why I like this is because I’m from Brazil and there…”
Right? Sort of offering some personal details about yourself in the conversation. And then you could follow that with the first strategy and be, like, “How about you?”
Lindsay: Yeah (yes). So, we’ve talked about this, right? It’s offering personal details, that’s what people can grab onto. Right? That’s what they connect with.
If you don’t give them any material to work with, or anything that makes you human in their eyes, it won’t be an interesting conversation. There’d be nothing to grab onto.
Jessica: Yeah (yes), exactly. It’s just the surface, sort of like this is what you hear in textbooks that’s so boring.
Lindsay: Yeah (yes).
Jessica: Right? “Hello. How are you? I’m fine. Would you like coffee? Okay.”
Like, nobody talks like that, nobody wants to talk like that.
Lindsay: Yeah (yes), no, for sure, for sure. So, being a little bit vulnerable depending on, you know, their levels of vulnerability, obviously. Right?
Lindsay: And we need to use our judgment here, but certainly just offering a little something more than maybe, more than what they’re asking for, or more than what would have been there otherwise. Love it.
Jessica: I liked this observation. I think Rodrigo and Lillian made this observation how in Brazil they were saying that people share, like, personal details about themselves, like, in conversations. And they weren’t sure how that occurred in American culture or if it happened. And they were, like, both kind of relieved that native speakers were so open, and it reminded them of how they could communicate with people they knew at home. Right?
So, that was a great observation about our culture, is that people share personal details about themselves all the time. And it doesn’t matter where you’re from, or if you’re on the East Coast or the West Coast, like, native speakers, for the most part, want to connect with you.
Lindsay: Yeah (yes), self-disclosure. This is actually something we looked at in my graduate program, this concept of self-disclosure across cultures and how open different cultures are. It’s interesting. One example, remember My Big Fat Greek Wedding? When the aunt talked about, with the in-laws for the first time, they were meeting the in-laws, talked about her twin being in her neck? The tumor? Do you remember that?
Jessica: Ohh my God. That is such a famous, like, a part of the movie. People still refer to that. Even forgetting what movie it’s from. So funny.
Lindsay: Yeah (yes), yeah (yes), yeah (yes). So, that’s kind of an example, obviously that is amplified and that’s cartoonized a little bit, but you know, showing… I also, I do think, yes. I think Americans are open and they offer things, and I think it’s also very personal; it depends on your family, culture, where you’re from.
Jessica: For sure.
Lindsay: So many things. But yeah (yes), this is something that does vary across cultures, but I still think it’s important to just add a little something about yourself because that’s what people connect with. It’s not just the black and white stuff. Yeah (yes).
Jessica: Exactly. You have to put yourself out there in order to connect, and maybe the other person won’t pick up on it. That’s their problem, maybe they’re busy, it has nothing to do with you. Just move on to the next person.
Lindsay: Yeah (yes), exactly. I love it, I love it.
Lindsay: And so we have a third way, and I really like this way. I feel like this one would get us the most mileage. What is it, Jessica?
Jessica: Totally. This is so easy, you guys, it’s one word.
Lindsay: Yeah (yes).
Jessica: So, after someone shares a detail or a fact or a story about themselves, just ask, “Why?” Right? We want to get to the motivation, the inspiration, the reason behind what they just shared. This is really digging deeper.
Right? This is such an easy way to go deeper into the conversation.
Lindsay: So good. And it’s good for so many reasons. An example of this is I remember in speed dating one of our students, I think the question was that I asked was, “What was the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?” And the student shared that the student had taken her family around in a camper van for, like, a week or something.
Lindsay: My answer to that was I was interested in understanding why that was something she wanted to do. Right?
Jessica: Yeah (yes).
Lindsay: So, I said, “Why did you decide to do that?” Instead of going to, I don’t know, a casino or something. Right? You get to know the person on a deeper level; you start to understand their motivations, what inspires them. And that actually makes them feel more connected to you because you’re showing an interest on a deeper level, not just in the what and the when and the where. It’s the why that’s going to connect you.
Jessica: Totally. And then again, like, as they’re sharing more personal details about themselves, it gives you something to grab onto. Right? Like you were saying.
Lindsay: Yeah (yes).
Jessica: And then you could say, like, “That’s so fascinating. I did something like that, or I’ve always wanted to do something like that.” Right? And then it gives something that’s a lot more interesting for you to react to.
Lindsay: Yes, I love it, I love it. So, guys, we want you to use that strategy and use all three of these to continue the conversation. No more panicking and not knowing where to go. The burden is not all on you. Right? You guys are creating a conversation together, the two of you, and use the material that’s already been put out there to extend instead of coming up with these brilliant ideas out of nowhere.
Jessica: Exactly, right.
Lindsay: I love it, I love it.
Jessica: Yeah (yes), that’s funny. I really love these three strategies today, you guys. Just like Lindsay was saying, like, it takes the pressure off you, right?
You don’t have to provide everything, and this is how you keep the conversation going, involving the other person, caring about their sharing.
Right? Caring about what they have to say. I love it.
Lindsay: Yeah (yes), so good. Well, Jessica, thanks for joining me in Boston. What a great experience. That was so fun; I want to give a final shout out to our students who joined us. Congratulations to you guys on completing the weekend. And guys, keep listening because we’re going to be doing more live events with All Ears English around the world.
Lindsay: So, if you’re not able to come to Boston or New York, you may be lucky enough to have us come to your country this year or next year, so you can go through a similar experience. So, keep listening.
Jessica: Yes, so exciting. So much awesome stuff planned. Okay. Thank you, Lindsay, have a wonderful day.
Lindsay: Okay, Jessica, have a good one and get better with that voice. Alright?
Jessica: I will. It sounds pretty awesome right now. Alright. Bye.
Lindsay: Take care. Bye, bye.
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