A Weird Japanese Small Talk Topic

Question: What’s your blood type?

If you’re from Japan, there’s a very good chance you know the answer to that question. You’ve probably even asked people what their blood type is.


I still have no idea what mine is.

If you’re Japanese, blood type is a pretty normal chit-chat topic. There’s a whole culture connected to blood type.

If you’re Type A you’re calm, introverted and overcautious. If you’re Type B, you’re creative, passionate and irresponsible. Type ABs are organised and empathic, but Type Os are as outgoing as they are ruthless.

Now, watch this video:

The point is…

For a conversation like this to go well, you need to be aware of these differences in culture and background knowledge. Just chatting to a Brit about blood type like you would a Japanese person won’t work. They have totally different background knowledge.

You need three things to speak a language well. You need the language itself, background knowledge, and knowledge of culture. And this is no different to small talk and casual chit-chat.

Want to master the big art of small talk? Well, on the 27th of this month, I’ll be doing Small Talk Superhero. We’ll dive deep into the topic of small-talk, what it is, why it’s so important (and tricky as a second language speaker) and how to do it yourself in English so that your conversations are fun and playful, not boring, awkward and potentially creepy like my friend.

The place to sign up is here.


Julian Northbrook
The Language Punk

P.S. At the time of writing, there are 9 places left for STS – claim yours here.


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Meet the Author

Julian Northbrook

Julian Northbrook is an unconventional punk of the business English learning world. A leading expert in English education and direct response marketing, he’s fully equipped to drag you kicking and screaming from English-mediocracy to speaking at an outstanding level. After being turned down for his dream job in the art industry, Julian suffered three long years as a crap Japanese speaker. He understands exactly what it’s like to feel like a total idiot every time you speak. But Julian overcame his language problems, mastered the language, and went on to work first as a freelance translator, then as an executive member of a Japanese company. But he soon grew sick of the corporate world and left it to pursue something infinitely more satisfying — running his own business helping small business owners and entrepreneurs get so good at English that they forget that it’s not their first language. He writes the infamous Doing English Daily Newsletter which you can (and should) subscribe to.