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! 

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?

Exercises to revise key grammar points (Bachillerato, B1-B2)

You can find below an updated version of the grammar booklet I used to prepare for my year 2 Bachillerato students, back in the days when I was teaching Bachillerato. I’ve tried to bring it up to date, and I have added as many links to video explanations and keys to exercises as I could. It could also be used with B1-B2 students whose grammar structures need reinforcing.

I’m sharing it now in the hope that it will help students in the final weeks before they sit their EvAU/EBAU exam, or teachers who are looking for extra materials for their students. Most of the exercises can be self-checked, so they don’t need extra work on the teacher’s side (or not much, anyway). Many of the units are aimed at providing ample rephrasing practice.

The grammar points it covers are:

  1. Conditional clauses/I wish-If only
  2. Relative clauses
  3. Reported Speech
  4. Passive voice. Personal/impersonal construction.
  5. Have/get something done.
  6. Used to/would; be used to -ing/get used to -ing
  7. Modal verbs
  8. As/like
  9. Subordinate clauses: purpose, result, contrast, cause, time)
  10. Comparatives and superlatives
  11. Emphasising the message: cleft/pseudo-cleft sentences, inversions
  12. Gerund /it…to inf
  13. Too/enough
  14. Rephrasing practice

I’ve tried to check for mistakes and outdated references, but there might still be some. My apologies.

It has to be said that most of the material is just a compilation of exercises taken, adapted and rehashed from many different sources: textbooks, grammar books, websites… I couldn’t honestly cite the sources now, but I definitely do not claim authorship of the exercises. Extensive reworking has been made over the years, though. The links to explanations are all my own, as are the keys to exercises.

Click on the image to download the pdf file

Please feel free to share with whomever you think might find it useful.

purpose clauses

If you need to know how to express purpose (your objective, your intention) in English, you can watch this video:

You can download the slides used in the video here.

contrast clauses (although, in spite of, however…)

In this video you can find a series of linking words that can help you express contrast between two clauses or sentences:

You can download the slides used in the video here

Conditional clauses- how to make them, ads and songs to practise them

Watch this video to understand how to express condition in English:

Click on the screenshot below or here if you want to download the slides used in the video

Conditionals- video

Click on the screenshot to download the slides used in the video

You may find the following ads useful to teach/understand 3rd conditional sentences [Specsavers are a British chain of opticians, also to be found in other countries such as Ireland and Australia]:

(Subtitled ad here)

And for Fawlty Towers/John Cleese fans…

Playlist with songs to practise conditional clauses (link):

You can also listen to this cover version of a song called ‘If It Hadn’t Been for Love’ by Adele:

Watch the video with subtitles here

(The subject matter of the song is not pleasant at all, rather similar to the songs discussed here)