Career Magazine

123: How to Make Small Talk in Mandarin Chinese

By Learnmandarinnow

Maybe when waiting for others or just passing time, most people engage in small talk—usually about things which interest them such as sports or fashion or make-up and so on. It’s also a great way to make new friends or colleagues.

In this Podcast, you will learn:

(i) How to start a conversation about a topic which interests you

(ii) To talk about a subject which has appeal to you and others in your group

Dialogue: Three people are making small talk:

At the coffee shop

A: 你喜欢什么体育运动?Nǐ xǐhuān shénme tǐyù yùndòng?

What kind of sport you like?

B: 我超级喜欢篮球。Wǒ chāojí xǐhuān lánqiú.

I am a big basketball fan.

A: 我也是!你看昨晚的NBA半决赛了么?Wǒ yěshì! Nǐ kàn zuó wǎn de NBA bàn juésàile me?

Me too! Did you watch the NBA semi-final last night?

B: 当然看了。打得超级精彩,是吧?Dāngrán kànle. Dǎ dé chāojí jīngcǎi, shì ba?

Of course, it was very exciting, wasn’t it?

A: 你喜欢旅游么?Nǐ xǐhuān lǚyóu ma?

Do you like travelling?

B: 喜欢呀!我去年刚去了趟瑞典。我简直爱死那里了!Xǐhuān ya! Wǒ qùnián gāng qùle tàng ruìdiǎn. Wǒ jiǎnzhí ài sǐ nàlǐle!

Yes I do. I just went to Sweden last year. Absolutely loved it!

A: 今天天气真好!Jīntiān tiānqì zhēn hǎo!

The weather is so good, isn’t it?

B: 是啊,我最喜欢的就是昆明的夏天。Shì a, wǒ zuì xǐhuān de jiùshì kūnmíng de xiàtiān.

Yes, I love the summer in Kunming.

Chinese words and phrases mentioned in this Podcast:


非常喜欢:like it very much



当然: of course



去年:last year





Cultural/Grammar note:

In Chinese, we usually use ‘趟’ to express how many times we go to a place, such as ‘一趟’ (once)’, ‘两趟’ (twice), ‘三趟’ (three times) and so on.

Mandarin Chinese learning resources we recommend:

Using Italki, a unique system of learning Mandarin Chinese where you interact with real teachers, is widely recognised as an effective way to learn a new language! You’ll make more progress and learn how native Chinese speakers really speak. Plus, Italki is more affordable than offline tutors, offline schools and software, and is convenient to use at your own pace and place!

Keats Chinese School
Keats Chinese School, which was founded in 2004, is one of the top Mandarin Chinese language schools in China, offering both one-on-one immersion Mandarin courses and small group Chinese classes. Located in Kunming, Keats develops personalised exercises and materials for students to meet their learning goals and requirements and can arrange a student visa for its 16 week course.

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