No matter what your reasons for learning English are; business, academic, travel, fun etc., you will need to develop your conversation skills.

Being a good conversationalist is not about being a good speaker, it requires a mixture of skills. Conversing with other people has a lot to do with choosing the right words at the right time, but that's not all: You also need to be a good listener, look for clues to hidden meanings, be able to read other people's moods, and even more importantly, know when not to say something.

As a language learner, you will need to constantly develop your vocabulary and ways of expressing yourself. Starting a conversation is relatively easy, but keeping it going is far more difficult (just take a look at our Live Chat page if you don't believe me). You need to speak, listen and appear interested, offer information, ask questions, gauge the other person's responses etc.

People don't become good conversationalists by accident, they work at it, and it takes effort, time, and practise - real practice: Communicating in real life situations, not just classroom settings with set topics and a friendly teacher.

You will need to be open, friendly and approachable, and not defensive about who you are, what you do, or where you come from, if you constantly worry about what other people think about you, you'll never be able to relax.

You will need patience, with yourself, and the person you are conversing with. There will be gaps in the conversation, don't panic, use them as time to think about something meaningful to say. You'll also need to know how to end the conversation gracefully, and hopefully leave the people you were just talking with looking forward to seeing / speaking to you again.

Here are some tips and ideas on how to converse well in English.

As regular visitors to the Learn English Network know, we provide you with the opportunity to actually practise your English skills, you can practise your small talk on the forum, and then take it live into one of our sessions. If you are feeling really brave, come to a Friday TGiF session - no topic, just chat.

For more information on joining any of our sessions, please read the English Chat page, oh and don't forget to check the calendar.