Using persuasive language in interactions

Typically, in exam situations where you have to interact, you will be asked to negotiate: your partner and you will have different (maybe opposing) interests, and you will have to find some common ground, reach an agreement…And one of the strategies you can use to reach that agreement is persuasion– trying to convince your partner that your option is the best one. This is some functional language you can use to persuade your partner(s):

  • Are you saying…? 
  • I’m sure you’ll agree…/I’m sure you’ll recognize…
  • Wouldn’t you say…? 
  • Are you saying that…?
  • It is undeniably the case that …
  • I’m just wondering if …
  • Can I just interrupt you here for a moment (if I may)? [only if you can’t get a word in edgewise]
  • Can I just ask…?
  • Can I just say something here? 
  • Can I point you towards…? 
  • Use question tags/right? 
  • Could we all agree that…/Could we both agree that…

You can find below some examples of persuasive language in negotiations taken from TV shows:

House M.D. ‘Control’: 

Dr. Alison Cameron feels her male colleagues and boss do not take her professional opinions seriously enough, so she has to resort to linguistic resources to try and delude them into thinking that her ideas are actually theirs.

 

Twenty Twelve:

Two senior members of the committee organising the London 2012 Olympics meet two secretaries from Clarence House (The Prince of Wales’s household) to look at ways of linking the 2012 Olympics with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations (the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne). They have to negotiate and reach an agreement that both parties may find satisfactory and that suits their needs.

Watch the video with subtitles in English here

  • I’m going to have to stop you there…
  • I see where you’re going with this
  • Shall I tell you what we’re hoping to achieve here? (Shall I tell you what my main aim is?)
  • Could we all agree that…/Could we both agree that…

*Siobhan (the blonde woman in the blue dress) is not the ideal role model for an interaction: she uses way too many fillers (and too informal for her role, actually-she probably wants to sound young and trendy, but she overdoes it): cool, totally, sure, here’s the thing…Besides, she is not very good at listening (which is something you should also do when interacting- listen to what your partner says and respond to that) or at using turn-taking strategies (she keeps interrupting, and as a result she is frequently interrupted or refused the right to speak in return).

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Improve your pronunciation through songs

The summer holidays are coming, and this is an ideal time to keep practising your English without much effort, just by listening to songs in English. In the video below you can find a short description of four phonological features of English (characteristics of English pronunciation) which are present in all geographical varieties/accents of English. If you know about them, you can incorporate them into your own way of speaking English:

  1. Aspiration /h/, /p/, /t/, /k/
  2. Weak forms of grammatical words (to, of, for, from…)
  3. ‘S’+ consonant at the beginning of words (in Spain)
  4. coalescence (want you, need you)

But rather than pronounce those sounds myself, I thought it would be much better if you could listen to well-known songs where these traits/characteristics are present. The examples chosen to illustrate the pronunciation features include songs by Ed Sheeran, Lewis Capaldi, Sia, Adele, Lady Gaga, The Beatles and Queen, among others.

Watch the video below for an explanation of the four traits. All along the video, you will be presented with links to fragments taken from songs. You can either scan the QR codes which will be appearing in the video, or click on the links at the end of this post:

Click here to open the video in a new tab

You can watch the video with subtitles. Click on the CC/subtitles icon if they don’t start automatically. You can also skip parts of the video, by clicking on the video chapter that interests you the most (click on the timestamp-the red line as you watch the video, or, if you watch the video on YouTube, open the description below the video and click on the timestamp of the topic of your choice).

You can find a summary of some of the songs mentioned in the video in this infographic (click on the image to open it on a new tab and activate the interactive elements):

Exercise: Read the lyrics to ‘The Scientist’ by Coldplay and try to identify the pronunciation features present in the blue sounds/chunks of speech.  Then listen to the song to check if your guesses were correct. Could you notice the way the singer pronounces those sounds?

Exercise (Click/tap on the screenshot to download the pdf file):

 

You can check your answers here:

Click here to open the form in a new tab

Key to answers

Good examples of pronunciation:

1. Aspiration

2. Weak forms

3. Initial S 

4. coalescence

Resources:

More about these resources here

  • More resources on pronunciation can be found here.

Finally, you can find all the songs mentioned in this playlist:

Have a great summer holiday, and listen to lots of songs in English! 

Jugar a Pasapalabra con Zoom

La última actividad de este fin de curso “diferente” con mis alumnos ha sido jugar a Pasapalabra, para repasar el vocabulario del curso, idioms…Lo había hecho en otras ocasiones usando TouchCast studio en clase. Al tener que hacerlo en esta ocasión con videoconferencia he tenido que cambiar el diseño de la actividad y los medios técnicos para hacerlo.

Los alumnos se conectaron a una videollamada de Zoom. En la sala común les expliqué a todos juntos que iban a trabajar en grupos (parejas o grupos de máximo 4 alumnos). Durante 15-20 minutos tenían que pensar en palabras/expresiones utilizadas durante el curso, y escribir definiciones/explicaciones. En este caso, les dije que no hacía falta que completaran una por una en orden alfabético: prefería que pensaran en palabras que les interesara repasar con sus compañeros, independientemente del orden alfabético, y que completaran cuantas les diera tiempo.

Con la opción de Breakout Rooms, los separé en grupos pequeños. Una vez dentro de ese grupo, a través del chat compartí con ellos un documento de Google con permisos de edición, para que los miembros de ese equipo compartieran sus palabras y definiciones. A partir de esta plantilla muy básica hice una copia distinta para cada grupo, para que solo vieran sus palabras, y no lo que estaban escribiendo los demás. En cada aula, además, les compartí la página classroom screen, para que utilizaran el reloj para controlar el tiempo.

Mientras ellos iban trabajando, iba entrando en las clases para ver si necesitaban algo, qué tal iban; desde el aula general si está vacía, o desde una breakout room vacía (suelo crear una más de las que necesito por si acaso), se puede ir monitorizando lo que están escribiendo a través de los Google Docs, y corregir algo, o añadir algún detalle más que puedan necesitar los compañeros para entender la definición.

Una vez finalizada la preparación de las definiciones, todos los alumnos se vuelven a reunir en la sala común. Mi idea original era la siguiente: un representante de cada grupo elegido al azar sería el concursante, que iría completando su rosco con las palabras que le preguntaran desde otro equipo. Para elegirlo al azar, utilicé de nuevo classroom screen, y mientras los alumnos preparaban las definiciones, puse los nombres de los miembros de cada equipo para que la página los eligiera. Además, debajo de cada equipo puse una cuenta atrás, para poder contar cuánto tiempo les quedaba, y hacerlo lo más parecido posible al programa. De cada equipo de 4, uno sería el concursante, y los otros tres serían los Silvia Jato/Christian Gálvez/Roberto Leal, es decir, los presentadores que leerían las preguntas por turnos para el equipo contrario que les correspondiera.

Para distinguir quiénes eran los concursantes (y que les hiciera gracia a ellos), aprovechamos la opción que ofrece Zoom de cambiar el fondo por un fondo virtual (virtual background), poniendo el rosco de “Pasapalabra”. Un poco adaptado, eso sí. A partir de este “rosco” de Pasapalabra, creé uno nuevo, con dos versiones, para que pueda ser utilizado en Zoom. Borré la letra Ñ en los dos casos, y giré el rosco, por si, al seleccionar el fondo virtual, se deja activada la casilla “mirror my video”. Es la opción más natural, ya que te permite verte en la pantalla como si te estuvieras mirando al espejo.

Cómo activar el fondo virtual:

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Estos son los “roscos” que compartí con los alumnos:

Para usar si se desactiva “mirror my video”

Para usar con la casilla “mirror my video” activada

Dicho esto, este era mi plan original: al final, hablándolo con los alumnos, decidimos que cada grupo leería sus definiciones, con cada uno de sus miembros leyendo una definición cada vez, y que cualquiera de la clase que lo supiera podría contestar. Fue más ágil, y los grupos en las clases online no eran tan numerosos como en las presenciales, así que no hubo problema.

A nivel lingüístico, es una actividad que se puede utilizar con cualquier nivel- al fin y al cabo es un repaso de lo que has visto. Y son los propios alumnos los que deciden qué contenido introducir para repasar.

vocabulary: lifestyles, city life

If you want to revise vocabulary related to the topic of lifestyles and city life, you can fill in this form:

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Listening: What is Zoombombing and how to prevent it

Listen to the extract and for each question choose the most suitable answer (a, b or c):

Listening comprehension: changes to lifestyles due to the coronavirus pandemic

Listen to these three clips. For each question (1-6) choose the best answer (a, b or c). You can listen to each clip twice:

Adele’s appearance: should it be discussed at all?

British singer and megastar Adele posted yesterday a photo on her Instagram account to thank the messages she had received on her birthday. She seemed to have lost a lot of weight since her last public appearances, which has hit the (tabloid) headlines in the UK.

Some journalists and commentators, however, are wondering whether Adele’s appearance should be a matter of discussion at all:

Reading: Why the photo of a new, slimmer Adele makes women like me feel uncomfortable

Click/tap on the screenshot to read the article

Source

Other critical voices have also expressed criticism on social media that Adele’s weight loss should be front-page news at a time like this.

What are your views on this? 

  • Should Adele’s appearance be discussed at all?
  • Should she have been taken as a role model by women of her same build, as the article mentions?
  • What is the message that this being news is sending to readers/female readers?
  • How can perceptions and preconceptions about women’s appearance be altered?