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Speaking and listening tasks

Task 2: discussing and listening

What you need to do

This task is all about interacting with and responding to other people. You need to show that you can talk confidently and that you can let others speak. In this task, listening is just as important as speaking. It is important to show that you can listen to people and bring them into conversations.

You can do this by:

  • looking at them and responding to what they say using your body language (such as nodding in agreement, or throwing up your hands in dramatic disagreement)
  • directing questions at particular people
  • suggesting that everyone listens to a quieter member of the group

What you say in response should also reflect what people have just said. You should agree and add to someone's point, or disagree with it and explain why. Make sure you agree ways on including everyone. You will not get good marks for just butting in and giving your own, prepared views - however good your ideas are. If you are the quieter member of the group then you need to look for opportunities to talk because if you don't, you won't get the marks.

You should also remember where you are. A formal discussion requires formal language. It also means polite ways of agreeing and disagreeing, offering opinions and looking for opinions. You need to show you understand the difference between a formal discussion and a speaking to your friends.

How to do it

The topic you discuss will always have different sides. Think about as many of the different possible points of view as you can, then make sure these points of view are covered in your discussion. Make sure you are covering issues in depth as well. Complex issues are never one-sided. Even if there is a point of view you don't agree with or can't stand, make sure someone comes up with it. The more unusual points of view can really get group discussions going.

Think about the language you will need to conduct a group discussion. You should agree and disagree politely but firmly. Make sure you ask questions as it shows you are listening and thinking about what is being said.

Your teacher will be paying particular attention to how well you work together as a group so think about being:

  • considerate - respecting other people's right to their opinions
  • positive - helping the conversation develop by bringing other people in
  • balanced - helping to resolve differences that may be bringing a discussion to an end

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