Six Ways to Start a Conversation in English with Tourists by Colin

Six Ways to Start a Conversation in English with Tourists

A lot of tourists from other countries are very curious about Japan.
I believe they would be very happy to talk to a native Japanese person in here.

I remember when I first came to this country I was happy when anybody on the train, street or really anywhere talked to me in English because I couldn’t speak Japanese or predict whether someone spoke English or not just by looking at them.

The important part for you is that this opens a good chance for English learners to study with a native speaker.
Here are some ideas for how to start a conversation with a foreigner.

1. “Excuse me, are you lost?” :すみません、道にお迷いですか?
Hearing this question can be like a bathing in a magical onsen of relief for a confused foreigner.
If you see a lost foreigner with a heavy backpack or suitcase, holding a map and you need or want to try your English, this is a sure fire way to have that chance.

sure fire - 明らかな(必ずうまくいく、成功間違いなしの)

2. “Hello, where are you from? How long have you lived here?” :こんにちは、どこの出身ですか?どれくらいここに住んでいますか?
This is always a good way to enter an English conversation with someone sitting nearby.
I sometimes used this in America with Japanese people on the bus or at parties and gained a rare chance to try my Japanese.
Of course, I embarrassed myself a lot and made some terrible grammar mistakes but it definitely helped me get better.
Even though Japanese might be shy, I think everyone likes it when they go to another country and find friendly people.
This may not work every time but as long as you keep the questions and topics light,
I think its safe and fun. But most importantly you might get an English speaking friend or connection in a foreign land!


3. “Hey there. Cheers!” やあ、乾杯しようよ!
This would be strange on the street but in a bar like HUB it would be very fun.
As you probably already know, “cheers” means 乾杯 in English.
You can use it when you first walk up before you introduce yourself to appear friendly.
Notably, in England it can also mean “thank you” or even “good bye” or “see ya”.
So you may want to try saying it too before you return to your table or friends.
Americans think British English is really stylish and attractive so I think this would be a good and fun idea anytime.


4. “Cool shoes!”:素敵な靴ですね!
Even though this could be used in a way that might get you into trouble, we often casually compliment other strangers in America and sometimes launch conversations with this as a springboard.
This could happen on the street, in a store, and could happen between two customers or from customer to staff or even staff to customer!
People often wear things they like because they want to visually communicate with others…right?

結局、みんなお気に入りの洋服やアクセサリーを着る事によって、他人との視覚的コミュニケーションを図るのです…. よね?

springboard – literally means 飛び板(たたき台 in the case of this blog)
This is done by taking an adjective and adding the clothing item, bag, or accessory.
A. Cute purse! Where did you get that?
B. I love that shirt. What does it say? Who is that character? What does that mean?
C. Hey, cool jeans. Are those from Japan?
D. Great jacket! Where can I find one of those?

A. 可愛いお財布だね!どこで買ったの?
B. そのシャツいいね。なんて書いてあるの?そのキャラクターは誰なの?意味はなんですか?
C. へい、かっこいいジーンズだね。日本の物ですか?
D. とてもいいジャケットだね!どこで買えるの?

5. “Thank you so much!… Hey where are you from?”:ありがとう!… あのー、どこの人ですか?
This chance might happen when a westerner opens a door for you… Or perhaps compliments your jacket!
(ie: #4) You might have only a five second window of a chance so be prepared!
この機会は、例えば外国人がドアを開けてくれる時に訪れるかもしれません… もしくはあなたのジャケットを褒めるとき!
(例: #4)この際、ほんの5秒ほどしかチャンスがないかもしれませんので、機会を逃さずに!

6. “Why did you come to Japan?” “What is your favorite part about Japan?” “How did you become interested in Japan?”

Open questions are questions that invite longer answers and hopefully lead to interesting conversations. Closed questions just request a short “yes” or “no” and lead to an awkward ending of the conversation so open questions are very recommended for making a new friend or expanding your network.
Avoid starting your questions with “Do you~?”, “Have you~?”, “Is~?”, and so on because these all are boring closed questions and will kill your chance.
自由回答形式の質問(open question)は相手に長い答えを誘う質問です。これを機に、面白い会話が始まるかもしれません。選択回答形式の質問(closed question)はイェスかノーの答えを誘うので、会話が続かなくなってしまうかも知れませんので気まずい空気になりやすいです。なので、初めて会う人や人とのネットワークを増やしたい時は自由回答形式の質問をおすすめします。”Do you~?”, “Have you~?”, “Is~?”などの質問はすべて選択回答形式(closed question)の質問なので、長い会話を始める機会を台無しにしてしまいます。

For example, if you ask, what is different between Japanese and American ~
(restaurants, people, music, etc.) to an American tourist then you can talk about many things. However, if you say “do you like japan?” then you will only get a “yes” or “no” answer and that could easily be the end of the conversation.

Well, that was my six ideas for talking to foreigners here in Japan. Write them down and put them in your wallet or purse.
So from now, if you see some funny gaikokujin get trapped underneath his or her overpacked luggage on an escalator on the way from Narita then maybe you can help out and get some real English conversation experience! (this… happened to um…”someone I know”… not me of course! ;P don’t you believe me???)
まぁ、これが僕の外国人に話す時の六つのアドバイスでした。これらを書き留めて財布に入れておいてください。ひょっとしたら、成田空港からやって来たばっかりの、エスカレーターでスーツケースに埋もれたおかしな外国人に出くわした時に、助けの手を伸ばして実践的な英会話を経験してみてください!(これ… 実は僕が知っている「知人」に… 実際起こった事なのです… 僕じゃありません!:P 信じてくれない???)



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