Speaking and Listening

Speaking and Listening Tasks

Speaking and Listening Tasks

Preparation for this English Language exam.

CaptureThis unit requires you to prepare to talk in some form about a subject given to you by your teacher or chosen by you. Just to remind you, here are the three categories of assessment you will have to prepare.

  • Presenting involves giving some kind of talk on your own. Sometimes, this is a speech.
  • Discussing and listening involves having a dialogue or debate in a pair or larger group. You will have to listen to what others say and adapt your talking accordingly.
  • Roleplaying involves the creation of a dramatic scene on your own or in a pair.

Preparation for all these tasks will involve extensive research into your subject. You will have to consider purpose, audience and style, as well as the type of assessment.

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Task 1: Presenting

This type of assessment is about communicating information and adapting language to fit with a target audience. From the start, you should establish your point of view, stating it clearly in your introduction and providing strong support with your first point. At the end of the presentation, you should repeat your opinion to reinforce it.

When planning your presentation, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What is your presentation going to be about?
  • Who are you presenting to?
  • How are you going to engage the audience?
    • Articulation
    • Body language
    • Content
  • What kind of language is appropriate for your presentation?
  • What is your most important point?

Once you have planned and researched your presentation, it is important to practice reading it aloud. This assessment will not just be about the content of your essay but also be marked on how you deliver it. For examples and inspiration on how to perform a speech, try watching interviews or speeches made by politicians and other people on television.

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Task 2: Discussing and Listening

The title of this assessment gives away exactly what you will be doing. Note that the word discuss is used rather than speaking. This is because it is more about how you interact and respond to other people rather than simply about how you talk and present your points.

Subjects and tasks will have different sides to them, requiring you to use your debating skills. You will need to show that you have the ability to:

  • Talk confidently and support your opinions
  • Let other people speak
  • Listen to what people say and respond in a way which shows you have thought about what they are saying – If you agree with a person’s point, you should add further evidence or ideas to extend it. If you disagree, you should explain why.
  • Use eye contact and body language when listening. For example, nodding in agreement or shaking you head to disagree.
  • Include everyone, even the quieter people, in the task. One good thing would be to suggest that everyone listens to what a quieter member of the group has to say.
  • If you are normally the quiet person, you must make an effort to have your opinions heard and to respond to others.
  • Marks will not be given for interrupting other people or for sticking rigidly to the notes you have prepared and not listening and responding to others.
  • Even if someone is presenting a side of the debate which you do not agree with, you should still listen to what they have to say.

Even though you will be with your classmates and discussing your subject with them, do not forget that this is an assessment and that your audience is your teacher as well. It is still advisable to use formal language.

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Task 3: Role-playing

During this assessment, you will be given a character which you will have to pretend to be. The task will be one that involves discussion between several characters. As your character, you will present your opinion about a subject. However, this will not be your own opinion; it will be from the character’s point of view.

To do this, you will have to research the subject and research your character’s personality. For example, if you the suspect in an interview with a detective, consider how you would react to their questions. Would you be angry at their accusations? What would your body language be like? Consider whether you are innocent or guilty. By knowing your character and the kind of thing which happens during situations like that, you will be able to sustain your acting and make it believable.

Here’s a list of things to think about and questions to ask yourself about your character:

  • Being authentic and engaging
  • Think about your articulation, body language, accent and the content of your speaking.
  • If your character has any idiosyncrasies (personality traits which make them stand out), try to imitate these.
  • Always stay in character. You will be assessed continually during this task.
  • Make sure to really think about the subject of the task so that you can deliver thoughtful points and support them with examples and evidence.
  • What is their story? What has happened to them in the past?
  • What do they think about the subject being debated?
  • How do they feel about the other people taking part in the role-play?
  • How will they respond to each character? (Will they become angry or laugh?)
  • Why will they respond this way? (Do they dislike some? Do they feel strongly about something? Are they the kind of character that can be convinced?)
  • Remember, your character is not simply ‘good’ or ‘evil’. There will be reason behind their personality and beliefs.

As with your Discussing and Listening task, it is important to listen to the other people who are doing the task with you. However much you want to take over, especially if this is in character, you must allow other people to speak. Similarly, if your character is generally quiet, you should come up with a reason for them to speak and give opinions.