Fostering Social Communication Skills Through Small Talk Practice in Post-pandemic Japan


Small talk is often said to be like a lubricating oil in human relationships. However, the Japanese appear to be influenced by its high-context culture (Hall & Hall, 1987). People often need help to decide on good topics to initiate conversation, even in business settings (Murao, 2021). 3rd-year college students who enrolled at the onset of the pandemic in 2020 and were exposed to its effects longer than other grades appear to have suffered more from not establishing good friendships or nurturing their communication skills. While face-to-face teaching officially started in 2022, students came into the classroom quietly and sat without interacting with their peers. In order to help develop their small talk competency, the author prepared a short questionnaire to uncover students' daily social communication, such as whether they greet the university's president and teachers in the same department. Further questions include how successfully they think they can exchange small talk with "new" classmates and whether they can talk to strangers if necessary. Students are then given time to practice small talk by selecting appropriate topics at the beginning of their classes. The growth in their small talk competence is observed through their journals and the questionnaire results. The small talk session is a simple activity. However, as students start smiling when practicing in class and talking to the author in the corridor, the effect benefits their future careers and can be used in versatile ways.

Author Information
Tomoko Sugihashi, Showa Women’s University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: SEACE2023
Stream: Foreign Languages Education & Applied Linguistics (including ESL/TESL/TEFL)

This paper is part of the SEACE2023 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Sugihashi T. (2023) Fostering Social Communication Skills Through Small Talk Practice in Post-pandemic Japan ISSN: 2435-5240 The Southeast Asian Conference on Education 2023: Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon