Forget naff exchanges about the weather and where the bank is located. These dull as dishwater language basics may be tried and tested, but the end result, as far as I can tell, is a big fat FAIL.
Instead, check out this fabulous program Karambolage. It is made up of superb animations and covers fascinating topics like the origins of Cordon Bleue or how bunnies and eggs became associated with easter.
Drawbacks? You need to sit patiently through the annoying 40 seconds of disco beats and a dismembered head floating around a black screen. Seems like a short amount of time but trust me when I tell you it feels like an eternity. (Disclaimer: part of this could be my sucky wi-fi connection). It is also only available in French and German.