Michelle's independent resources for ESL Students at Vancouver Community College

This is a Canadian ESL blog for Intermediate and Advanced Students who want to learn and improve their English. Each PAGE above contains thousands of free English lessons, tutorials and practice exercises to help you learn and improve your English grammar, reading, listening, pronunciation, speaking, writing and editing. Some of the resources are Canadian. Others are from around the world.

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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Smile At Them! They Might Speak To You!

This summer I hurt my leg badly and spent some time in a wheelchair. This usually happened when I was in shopping centres, in parks,or at large outdoor concerts.

Many people are uncomfortable even looking at a person in a wheelchair. Maybe they feel sorry for the person and don't want to let her see their pity. Maybe they think the person in the chair doesn't want to be looked at.

But, imagine what might happen if the person in the wheelchair smiled at them, not with "a poor little me, I'm surviving" smile, but with a real "I love life. I'm happy and I'm enjoying myself smile."

In my case,whenever I smiled, not only did I get a big smile back, people actually spoke to me. My genuine, relaxed smile somehow signalled that they didn't have to feel uncomfortable about their good luck about not being the one in the wheelchair.

These people were strangers, but they spoke to me. What we spoke about depended on the venue. At the Roots and Blues Festival in Salmon Arm, they would ask me if I was enjoying the band. That often started a five minute conversation. At a dog park, we spoke about dogs. At the beach, we spoke about the weather conditions. In Canada talking about the weather can be a five minute conversation. In Vancouver, the chit chat can last 15 minutes or mlore if you want it to. .

Regardless of where I was, the result was usually the same. When I smiled at people, they spoke to me.

any of you are newcomers to Canada who are not comfortable speaking English outside of the classroom. You're afraid of making mistakes, or being laughed at. I will discuss some of these fears in a different post.

But, i
magine if you tried smiling whilke you were waiting for an elevator, sitting on a park bench, or waiting for a bus. Someone might actually smile back and ask you where you're from.
What a great opportunity for you to practice speaking English and making small talk!

All it takes is a smile - a big one. Try practicing in the mirror.

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