Placeholder ImageSeriously, how do coffee and learning English go together?  Very well, thank you!  Especially in Portland, where coffee and coffee shops are ubiquitous.  They are not only a great place to get some of the best coffee in the world, but Portland coffee shops are great for studying.  Studying English and studying people!  What better way to understand a culture than to spend time observing people doing their thing!

Students often laugh when I tell them one of the best ways to learn conversational English is to eavesdrop.  Eavesdropping, listening to a conversation that you are not part of, is considered rude.  Well, maybe, if you are going to share or gossip.  But as a language learner, it is a great way to see English in action.  You don’t have to stare or take notes.  Just be.  Sit with your coffee or tea or hot chocolate.  Work on your computer or in your textbook.  And just listen.  You’ll hear how people politely interrupt.  You’ll hear the types of questions to ask in polite conversation.  You’ll hear how to support your ideas in a discussion.  You’ll hear the little things that make conversation flow:  how to agree, disagree, show interest.

Try it.  Visit coffee shops all over the city.  Find your favorite.  You just might find new friends, too.

Share with us your ideas for practicing authentic listening.

Laura Shier