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).

You may also like:

British/Irish TV shows I’ve been watching lately

These are some recent British/Irish TV shows I have been watching/re-watching lately, and which I thought were worth recommending:

  • Broadchurch (2013-2017): crime/drama about the murder of an eleven-year-old boy which takes a small community by storm. Starring David Tennant, Olivia Colman and Jodie Whitaker. Trailer
  • The Crown (2016-): contemporary history, biopic about the political rivalries and romance during Elizabeth II’s reign. Trailer
  • Trust Me (2017) drama, set in a hospital, starring Jodie Whitaker. Trailer
  • Liar (2017-2020) psychological thriller about rape and the aftermath of it- set in Kent, starring Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey). Trailer
  • Derry Girls (2018-) comedy set in Northern Ireland, it follows the lives of a group of teenagers against the backdrop of the Troubles. Trailer
  • Butterfly (2018) drama about the ordeal of a transgender child. Trailer
  • A Very English Scandal (2018): political biopic/thriller/black comedy starring Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw based on the true story of the first British politician to stand trial for conspiracy to murder. Trailer
  • The Split (2018-2020) drama about a family of female divorce lawyers, set in London. Trailer
  • There She Goes (2018-): an honest look at the everyday life of the family of a severely disabled nine-year-old girl. A nice blend of comedy and drama. Starring David Tennant and Jessica Hynes (Years and Years, Twenty Twelve, W1A). Trailer
  • Years and Years (2019): Dystopian science-fiction. The first episode is set in 2019, on the same day as it was first broadcast. From then, it moves forward in time, year after year, until 2034. It tackles many global issues,  human rights, politics, the impact of technology… Eerie, as it hits too close to home at times. Lots of food for thought. Emma Thompson plays the role of a ruthless politician. Trailer
  • State of the Union (2019) 10′ episodes, comedy about relationships, starring Tom O’Dowd (The IT Crowd), and written by Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About a Boy). Trailer 
  • A Confession (2019) thriller based on real events, starring Martin Freeman (Sherlock, The Office). Trailer
  • Good Omens (2019) fantasy, based on the book by the same title by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen (Tony Blair in The Queen). Trailer
  • Breeders (2020-) black comedy on the trials of parenthood. Starring and produced by Martin Freeman. Trailer 
  • Deadwater Fell (2020) murder mystery-drama set in a Scottish village. Starring David Tennant. Trailer
  • Normal People (2020): romantic drama based on the best-selling novel by the same title, follows the on-again/off-again relationship of two Irish students from their last year at school through University. Set in Sligo and Dublin. Trailer
  • Charlie Brooker’s Antiviral Wipe (2020): one-off show by the creator of Black Mirror and the Philomena Cunk shows- a satirical look back at the coronavirus crisis in the UK and life under lockdown. You can watch the trailer here.
  • Staged (2020) 6 15-minute episodes. Comedy starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen playing a caricature version of themselves from home during lockdown, placing a series of video calls to rehearse a play. Because of the banter and informal atmosphere, you can hear David Tennant’s characteristic Scottish accent at his best, along with Michael Sheen’s Welsh accent not being substituted by RP. There are discussions about regional accents and their cultures as well as, obviously, about theatre and performance. Trailer
  • The Salisbury Poisonings (2020): three-part drama about the real-life poisoning of a Russian double agent, his daughter and other civilian casualties in Salisbury in 2018. Trailer. 

You may also like these comedies:

You may also be  interested in this:

Further ideas:

(Updated 23.6.20)

Christmas ads 2019

Christmas is around the corner. In the run-up to Christmas, businesses and brands release their very best ads, typically tearjerkers, to catch consumers off-guard and lure them to shop till they drop. I’m well aware of their persuasion strategies, of course. And yet, every year I find myself having a look at British Christmas ads, as they tend to be longer, and usually tell a story, which will allow me to exploit them in the classroom even further than ordinary ads. This is a selection of the ones I liked the most this year:


a rendition of Queen’s ‘Somebody to Love’ by real shopkeepers struggling to survive in the high street.

Extended version

Alternative version- shopkeepers singing All I Want for Xmas is you

Sainsbury’s– Nicholas the Sweep

Set in Dickensian London, it showcases the story of a waif-an orphan child and chimney sweep, unfairly accused of stealing.

Resources: the ad is set in Victorian England/Dickensian London. Some related vocabulary may be useful to start with:

Click on the image to open the word cloud. Links to definitions can be found by clicking on each word.

  • What do you mean when you say that somebody is ‘rotten to the core’?
  • The story is told by a 3rd-person narrator. How would you narrate the story using 1st-person narrative…
          • a. from Mrs Sainsbury’s point of view? 
          • b. from Nicholas the sweep’s point of view?
  • Imagine the story were to be published as a book. How would you retell it?

John Lewis & Waitrose– Excitable Edgar

Resources to use the ad in the classroom:

Fortnum and Mason– What’s in a Fortnum and Mason hamper? (list of traditional Christmas foods and elements in Britain)

Watch the ad and write down as many foods, gifts and Christmas traditions as you can.

Aldi-Kevin the Carrot #4 (Let Me Entertain You):

Resources to use the ad in the classroom: The Literacy Shed

Sky– ET came home for Christmas

Joules– Wallace and Gromit

Iceland supermarkets– Frozen II


M&S Christmas Food (Christmas market)

Smyths toys– If I Were a Toy

Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day– You may want to take part in this…

Further resources:

Queen landmarks in London

You can find below a map with London areas related to the rock band Queen. It includes some of their former homes, as well as landmarks in their career (for example, the venue where they played their first ever gig).

Red Nose Day 2019- its ups and downs

Last Friday 15th March it was Red Nose Day (RND) in the UK, this massive BBC telethon aimed at raising funds for the charity Comic Relief. (More about it here).

In the run-up to RND sponsors and partners filled supermarkets and British high streets with merchandise…

…and I was only too happy to oblige, by acquiring yet another red nose, and a ceramic travel mug.

So I felt terribly guilty when, first thing in the morning on RND, I woke up to this news:

There were also reactions on Twitter about the issue:

To make matters worse, RND fell on a Friday, coinciding with a Fridays for Future strike.

Anyway, I still sat down in the evening to watch the telethon live online. Needless to say, the spotlight of the evening was the sequel to Four Weddings and a Funeral, 25 years after its release. The cast includes most of the original actors and actresses, as well as Lily James and Alicia Vikander.

‘One Red Nose and a Wedding’:

Other sketches of the evening included a spoof of Mamma Mia- Here We Go Again, featuring Jennifer Saunders, Carey Mulligan (Suffragette) and comedian Miranda Hart.


Listening- David Bowie dismissed by the BBC

Listen to this report about David Bowie’s early years as an artist, and then fill in the gaps with up to four words. You can listen to it twice.

Open form in a new window 

After submitting your answers, you can self-check whether you were right or not.

Then, you can also listen again and read the transcript, paying attention to interesting vocabulary.


Bowie’s birth home in Brixton, London

Mural outside Morley’s, opposite Brixton tube station, which became a sort of shrine to Bowie after his death.

WAGOLL- film review: Mary Poppins Returns

To model writing a film review, I wanted to show my students ‘what a good one looks like’ (WAGOLL). I decided to use this review for Mary Poppins Returns.  In this case, it may not have been the best review I could find, but it served the purpose of illustrating the typical structure of a review.

I also wanted to provide students with the same explanations I would give them if I was explaining the positive points of the review in class. Even if I did go through them during classroom instruction, having an online document allowed them to access the information again, or for the first time if they had been unable to attend that particular session.

That is why I decided to create a Pages document on my iPad. First, I annotated it (highlighting relevant keywords, or underlining structural elements); then, I took a screenshot of the document, to get an image file, and uploaded it to Thinglink (open link in new tab here). Thinglink allows you to create interactive, media-rich images and videos, by adding text, audio, video, and/or links to specific parts of the image.

On the left-hand side of the document, headings to the paragraphs were added: that way, students can check the structure of the review. On the right-hand side, audio comments for each of the paragraphs were included, with a view to providing further clarification, or the reasons why some language resources and expressions had been/can be used.

This was the annotated/enhanced review (click on the picture to access all the interactive features):