Resources: Notes on Life and Language in the United States

7 Lessons to Speak English Confidently with an American

Posted by Lindsay McMahon on Mon, Sep 23, 2013 @ 08:03 AM

learn to speak English with AmericansSpeaking, speaking, speaking. That's what it's all about.

To be honest, I don't care if your grammar is perfect and if you can recite every grammar rule in the book.

If you can't speak in real, natural converations, then you have more work to do!

In today's lesson, I will bring you 7 of our best lessons to help you really understand how American people speak and how to speak with them.

Are you ready for 7 amazing lessons? Check it out.



#1) 10 American English Idioms for a Smooth Day at Work


speak with american at workThe vocabulary that you learned in your home country might be useful, but when you are in the United States or working with Americans in your home country, you are going to hear idioms.

You have to know what they mean!


In this lesson you will learn idioms such as:

  • "cash chow"
  • "to bite the bullet"
  • "to have a lot on your plate."
  • "hard sell"


Want to know what these idioms mean? Read the article here




#2) How to Make Small Talk in English with Americans


how to make small talk with american people in EnglishLet's imagine this: you are excited that you have been invited to a party hosted by your American friend because you know that this will be a great way to practice your English skills.

The problem is, you are only confident when you sit down and do your grammar exercises, not when you actually speak.

Don't panic! This lesson will give you a few hints and phrases that you can use to make small talk with strangers and acquaintances.


Here is what you will learn:

  • 3 phrases to make small talk
  • 3 common topics for small talk in the United States


Find out how to make small talk in English here




#3) Time Is Money! American Expressions about Time

american expressions and timeEveryone knows that Americans are crazy about time.

If you spend even a few days in New York or another US city, you will understand why.

Americans are busy people!

Find out how time is used in five different American English expressions in this article.


  • "To work overtime"
  • "To be out of time"
  • "To happen in the nick of time"


Click here to learn more time expressions in American English




#4) 7 Weather Idioms to Use in Conversation


7 phrases to talk about the weather with an American in EnglishAh the weather!

It's our favorite topic.

We love to make small talk about the weather because there is no easier, more neutral topic.

It's something that we all have in common so you can't really go wrong with this topic when it comes to small talk with Americans.

However, to make it work, you need a few phrases.

Here they are:

  • "When it rains, it pours."
  • "Rain or shine"
  • "Fairweather friend"
  • "To take a raincheck"
  • "A breath of fresh air"
  • "To be under the weather"
  • "To have one's head in the clouds"


Learn 7 phrases to use in conversations about the weather




#5) 5 Ways to Say "Why" in Natural, Everyday English


5 ways to say why in natural englishIf you use the exact same phrase every time you want to ask "why," you will start to sound boring. Nobody wants to sound boring!

In this article you will learn five new ways to find out why in natural, American English.

Here they are:

  • "How come?"
  • "Why would that be?"
  • "What's the reason for that?"
  • "Why is that?"
  • "And that's because...?"




Check out the lesson on 5 ways to say "why" here




#6) The 6 WORST Ways to Start a Conversation with an American


6 worst ways to start a conversation with an americanThere are some good ways to start a conversation with an American and there are some really bad ways to do it!

In today's lesson, guest teacher Gabby Wallace will show you which phrases and questions to avoid when you strike up a conversation with your American neighbor or colleague.


Here they are:

  • Being creepy
  • Talking about money
  • Using too much informal slang
  • Insulting the person ("You look tired")
  • Asking personal questions ("Are you married?")
  • Asking for a big favor right away


Read more about the 6 WORST ways to start a conversation with an American




#7) Why "Hi, How Are You?" Is Not a Real Question


saying hi is it a real question in English

How should you respond when an American says, "Hi, how are you?"

Well, most of the time, this isn't really a question, it's just a greeting.

They usually do not expect a response.

In this lesson you will learn how to respond to this "greeting" based on your relationship with the person-are they a stranger, acquaintance, or a friend?

Read the article to learn more.


Find out why "Hi, how are you?" is not a real question




I hope these lessons have helped you develop real, authentic speaking skills! If you have any questions about how Americans communicate, feel free to send me an email and I will create a new blog lesson in response to your question. Thanks so much and good luck!







Speak English with Confidence NOW




Photo credits: Jeff Kubina, Canadian Film Centre, bugysho, alubavin, Raymond Bryson, Newtown graffiti

Topics: English Lessons, United States Culture, English Conversation

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