Free English Meetups Online


Now More than Ever Communication Really Is (not only) Key ….. but Essential.

Due to the inability to get out of the house, Communication is key is establishing a drop-in English Talk Time.

While we are all inside, we recognise the need to talk, check-in and exchange ideas and extend friendship. When isolated, as we are now, it is important to have places ( online) to visit and to see others.

We at CIK want to offer, free, a drop in and just speak English session. Small talk, current events, and anything else that might come up. The important thing is to stay connected. All levels welcome.

Every day at 13 hrs Central European Summer Time we will hold an English speaking meetup.

Please join and practice your language skills while breaking the isolation.

send Email to:  to be notified that the video chat is on or if you have trouble accessing the chat.






Networking for success – the art of English conversation

Trying to start a conversation in English? It’s a bit like a gamble. It’s throwing some money on the table in the hope that you win.

But in this sense, it’s where you find yourself standing with someone that you probably don’t know all that well and neither of you know how to start the conversation.

(NB English words in bold have a German translation at the bottom of the article)

It can be quite scary to be the first to break the silence.

So you make a conversational gambit. You throw something out there in the hope that it works. It sounds easy but we all know that, except for the most gregarious among us, it can be quite scary to be the first to break the silence and say something and hope that you won’t sound stupid, be ridiculed, be judged for all time, etc etc etc.

Here’s the thing.

Almost everyone, and by that I mean even the people who give the impression that they were born chatting to all and sundry and being the life of the party, are just as scared as you. We just have different ways of dealing with it. Some ways are more successful that others. Standing silently and hoping that the moment will somehow eventually pass is one of the less successful ones. Just saying something is another way of dealing with it and guess what, it’s one of the more successful ones.

People can be quite forgiving.

And you know when you say something and think, damn! That didn’t work! Remember that you’re judging yourself a whole lot more unforgivingly than anyone else will. People can be quite forgiving. And everyone wants to get the conversation started, so they’ll be very pleased that you broke the ice.

Most gregarious people use the same opening line over and over again.

Another thing to remember if you want to start a conversation is that, unsurprisingly, there’s a number of stock statements, questions, remarks and comments that you can draw on. Most gregarious people use the same opening line over and over again. They’ve got a number, often quite a small number, of lines that they know will work. That’s the best thing to do. Have an armoury of opening lines that work in most situations.

Here’s 4 easy conversation openers to get you started – (Keep it simple, it’s often the best way):

1. “Hi, I don’t know many people here, do you mind if I introduce myself?” – straightforward and it works.

2. “So what brought you here today?”

3. “How’s your day going?”

4. “So what do you do?” – get them talking about themselves (always good) and you’ve also got time to figure out what to say next as well as listening for some common ground)


Useful words translated to German:

conversational gambit – Gesprächsaufhänger
gregarious – gesellig
ridiculed – verspottet
sundry – allerlei, verschieden

Moving countries and entering new cultures

Today I want to focus on where one begins when learning about the use of Intercultural Communication when relocating an employee to a new country. There are so many stumbling blocks when transferring employees into new cultures.

Using the methods of Intercultural Communication, the training can start before the employee arrives in a new place. They begin by looking at their own culture and attempt to fully understand how it influences the way they work and interact with others. The employee investigates their present roots from the personal, local, regional and national perspectives.

So what does this mean?

At this point, I want to concentrate on the personal perspective which is the world from which you were raised or live inhabit presently. Friends and family norms. Even quirks.


As an example, I grew up in a small town in Texas, and My parents were from Georgia and Pennsylvania, so they did not speak the local dialect. The word ‘lack’ was used a lot when asking someone what they needed in a given situation. When they spoke, though the pronunciation altered to sound to my ears as,’ like’, so that I thought that the latter word had two meanings. One was the accepted meaning that ‘ like’ was ‘similar’, etc.. But I also thought that it could mean ‘need’.

I went through my life using it in this way, often misunderstood until I began to examine the dialect of the world in which I lived.

Texas is a big place, and we as Texans enjoy our voices, our space, and our sense of independence. Their state is full of mythology, and we want to believe it all in embodied on us. Some good and some bad, but it is us. I thin arrive in other parts of the country, New York and then Berlin, where bigger than life attitudes are sometimes off-putting, not ordinarily acceptable when dealing in business. I had to learn when and where to turn it on, and off. I even learned to be a bit humble.

I learned to listen and take into account the culture I was trying to relate to and temper my approach to my personal and business interactions. The difficulty was how to keep my identity and to respect the adopted culture. Not an easy task and I would fail a lot until I began to succeed. I felt for a while that I had to sublimate my cultural identity to my host country until I found that people did like me for my ‘bigger-than-life-Texas-self’, now and then, but sometimes they needed me to meet them in the middle somewhere between Texas and, in this case, Germany. Oddly, there is a significant cultural history between Texas and Germany.


Know your personal, cultural quirks, and observe how they are perceived. Develop the ability to modulate your usual modes of interaction from home when necessary and also when to celebrate it. Everyone likes the variety that different cultures offer. It’s all about self-knowledge and timing.

I could write on and on but will stop with this, picking up next time with a little observation about accents in speaking English. How much to keep, and how much to try and lose.


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Don’t just speak – communicate!

Don’t (just) Speak English….Communicate!

How often have you expressed an idea clearly to someone and they have completely misunderstood – and even taken offence – at what you’ve said? And if the person you’re talking to is from another country and another culture, this happens quite quickly, right? Now try this when both of you are speaking in a second language – English.

Communication is more than words. It’s what’s behind the words. It’s what’s around the words, what encapsulates the words.


How we speak about things is shaped by our culture. When we translate into our second language, our words can quickly become lost in translation. The problem is not the word; instead, it’s the idea that the word represents. An idea that we pick up from our native language; and sometimes also from our local and regional cultural habits.

In business, as in personal life, we work more and more in words. We email. We text.

But these methods are deficient because there’s so much more than just Google Translators and decent grammar. There’s the background of each participant.

At CIK (Communications Is Key) we specialise in coaching English usage through the broader study of cultural awareness. Using this approach, we reveal a simple but often overseen fact:

That the most potent methods of communicating are often less about language mastery and more about the cultural awareness of the parties involved.

You Say Potato. I say…….Let’s call the whole thing off

We communicate with our voices, within the context of cultures, and the language of our bodies. Some cultures need more words to express an idea, others just one or two. When these two cultures attempt to talk without being aware of each other’s background, then misunderstanding and with it frustration can arise.

Thereby producing mediocre results unless the parties agree to implement a method of working and communicating that takes them a step closer to the other’s norms.

English coaching combined with Intercultural Communication promotes true understanding

between parties speaking English as a common second language. Communication Is Key offers workshops, short courses and private coaching with this goal in mind: in your home, your office or online.