Listen to some extracts of people making small talk. Decide whether the dialogues are successful or not. If they are successful, what topic produces some common ground?
A: Where do you come from?
B: The south.
A: Interesting. Which city?
A: Oh, I see …and is your family here with you?
A: So you left them at home?
B: That's right.
A: I suppose that must be very hard for them.
A: Where were you brought up?
B: In Greece, actually. But my parents are Danish.
A: That sounds complicated.
B: Not really. My father had a job as an adviser to the government.
A: So, did you go to school there?
B: Yes, I did. It was an international school and we had to speak English.
A: Your English is very good.
B: Thanks. In fact, I use it all the time in my current job.
A: What do you do?
B: I'm a pilot… you know, on a commercial airline.
A: Really? My brother is training to become a pilot.
B: Oh? Where's he training?
A: What do you do for a living?
B: I'm in banking.
A: Oh, what sort of banking?
B: Foreign exchange transactions.
A: I see. And have you always been in that line of work?
B: Yes, I have.
A: Personally I've changed my career twice already. I started out as a dentist, but I decided that people's teeth didn't really interest me, so I moved on to become a salesman for one of the big pharmaceutical companies. After a while I couldn't stand it, and now I've set up a garden centre just near here.
B: I see.
A: Right, well, I suppose I should think about going soon.
A: Are you married?
A: So, I don't suppose you have any children?
B: Well,... not that I know of. What about you?
A: Yes, I'm married. We've got two boys.
B: And how old are they?
A: One's five and the other one's three. They're a real handful.
B: I bet. Rather you than me. I know I'd have to give up climbing if I had kids.
A: You're not a climber?
B: Yes. I do a bit. Mostly in this country. You know, Scotland, sometimes in Wales, that sort of thing.
A: Well, that's a coincidence. You're quite right about the family. Until our oldest was born, I was a climbing fanatic. Went away most weekends…