What is Conversational English?

Posted on April 13, 2015

By Honami Matsutani, Guest Blogger

What is it?

I have often wondered where the line should be drawn between so-called “conversational English” and it’s presumed opposite “non-conversational English”. Is the distinction equivalent to “spoken English” versus “written English”? Or alternatively even “casual English” v. “formal English”?

I am sure I’m not the only one in noticing that the “conversational” label is often used to mean only-good-for-getting-by. Worse still, conversational English is almost regarded as a licence to remain uninitiated. However, is this fair? Should this be the case?

Is it just basic English?

Newcomers to the English language speak “elementary English”. Then the reasonably well-educated natives speak “advanced English”. But surely the degree of being able to speak conversational English varies depending on who is communicating? Furthermore, in what circumstances?

Do we just mean elementary English? No, it doesn’t. Do proficient speakers of English language never engage in a conversation? Yes they do, and most probably in a rich and comprehensive manner, using more vocabulary and wider expressions. This means there should be no excuse for holding yourself back in the supposed “conversational” boundary! Why? Because in reality we have no limit in content or context for conversations in English.

How to boost your conversational English

Since I am a long-term learner of English, I have always wanted to increase my vocabulary. One important way I do this is through reading. I read all kinds of materials from newspapers and reports through to books and journals. What’s more, to improve my spoken English, I read aloud whenever appropriate. Through practising dialogues and speeches I can master more intellectual conversation.

Fellow students of English, you should really try this to reach the Holy Grail!

Practise your reading with some excellent texts here, using free British Council resources.

Do you want to boost your spoken English skills? Get in touch today to book your free trial English class at your company in London.



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