A major part of learning a new language comes in speaking it with native speakers – and you can’t do that without making a few friends! This is an area in which a lot of language learners struggle at first, getting to grips with informal expressions and slang words and growing accustomed to understanding casual, spoken English. But with a little practice, you’ll soon be able to make and converse with English-speaking friends, and be able to properly express who you are.
Here are some tips, words and phrases to help you on your English travels, so you can meet and make friends with people in all situations, whether it’s work, at university, your new flat or out a pub or gig.
First things first, you need to introduce yourself. You can do this in endless ways, so it’s right to find an introduction that suits you, your personality, and the situation. You can be very formal with your introduction, for example:
- Good evening/afternoon, my name is …
- It’s a pleasure to meet you, my name is …
Which may be better for meeting people in the workplace or in formal settings.
Or you can be more relaxed and informal, for example:
- Hey! I’m …
- Hi, how’s it going? My name’s …
Getting the conversation started
Let them know what you do – a good way to get things started as it lets people know a little about you, and it could be that they’re in a similar situation themselves, so you already share something in common. For example you could say:
- I’m here to study
- I’m studying politics at … University – letting people know where you study and what you study will allow them to get to know you better
- I’m here on holiday
- I’m visiting friends/family
- I just got a job at… – letting people know where you work, either the location or the company name, helps them to get to know you too
- I work as a… – let people know what you do for work – they might do the same thing, or have an interest in your line of work
These are an easy way to get a conversation started, to be polite and friendly, and to make the other person feel good about themselves too. It could be that you love a piece of clothing that they’re wearing:
- Wow. I really like your t-shirt
- That’s a really cool bag!
- Hey, nice trainers, where did you get them?
The best way to engage with people is to let them know that you’re interested in them and what they do. Showing them that you want to know more about them will encourage them to open up and chat with you more freely. So ask them plenty of questions about the things they do and the things they enjoy.
What kind of music/films/books/art are you into?
A big part of getting to know someone and whether you’re going to get on as friends is to find out what their interests are. This phrase will help you find out what they like and if they share the same love of films, music or photography as you! From here you can tell them about the ones you love too. You can say:
- I love…
- I really like…
- I’m a big fan of…
- I think… is really cool
Or if you want to be negative and let them know about the things you really don’t like (this can often be easier than letting people know about all of the things you do like) you can say:
- I hate…
- I despise…
- I think… are awful
Extending the friendship
When you meet someone or a group of people that you get on well with and you’d like to see them again there are lots of ways to ask them if they’d like to see you again too. For example:
- Want to go for a beer?/Let’s go for a drink!
Inviting someone for a drink will always win you friends! Whether you want to go for a drink, a beer, or a cocktail, a pub or bar is a great place to meet up after work or after classes and get to know other people in a relaxed atmosphere. Both of these phrases are equally relaxed and informal ways of inviting people you like to come and have a drink with you.
- Would you like to come over for dinner/supper?
They say the way to a man’s heart (or a woman’s!) is through their stomach! Food and friendship go hand in hand and inviting people round to your home for a meal is a great way to get to know them better. Cooking for people shows you care, and they’ll really appreciate it. Food is also a really great means of swapping and getting to know about each other’s cultures – you can cook a typical meal from your home country and your English-speaking friends can cook you a typical from theirs.
- We should hang out more
If you find that you really hit it off with someone, and you think you’d like to get to know them better, then let them know. This phrase is basically a casual and concise way of saying ‘I think we get on really well and it would be good fun hanging out with you again in future.’ Hopefully they’ll feel the same way and will respond with something a “Yeah!” or a “Sure, that would be cool!”
- Staying in touch
If you want to be able to stay in touch with someone and contact them in future there are lots of ways to do so now we have mobile phones and the internet. Whatever way you’d like to contact them, it’s easy to ask for their details:
- Are you on Facebook?
- What’s your email address?
- Would you mind giving me your email address?
- Do you have a Twitter account?
- Are you on LinkedIn?
- Could I take your mobile number?
Asking a girl or guy for their phone number can imply that you want a romantic relationship rather than just a friendly one, especially if you’re asking for their phone number the very first time you meet them. If you intend for the relationship to be more casual than that then more casual ways of asking would be by offering your own number to them instead.
Would you like more travel English tips? Find out how to book your holiday accommodation.