Level 2: Speaking & Listening Sample Lesson

Group Discussion Activity

Level: 2
Class: Speaking and Listening
Instructor: Daniel Goldner

Do you know someone who likes to argue, or someone who has an opinion on any topic? We all have opinions, but there is a better way to express your opinions without arguing. Being able to disagree and clearly express your opinions will help you in many everyday situations.

Requirements:

The Discussion Leader is responsible for choosing a topic and introducing that topic to the other group members in class on. This will give the other group members time to think about the topic and prepare for the group discussion in class on. The topic can be on any social issue or current event, but the discussion leader should try to choose a topic that will be interesting for the other group members.

Before the discussion, the Discussion Leader will:

Choose a topic and assign roles
At the beginning of the week, the leader will choose a topic. You should give a brief introduction about your topic, such as the main pro/con issues. If the members of your group are not naturally divided on the topic, then you might want to assign group members to defend a pro/con argument. All the group members will then have time to prepare for the group discussion. It is okay to search through books, magazines, Internet, etc. in your first language.

During the discussion, the Discussion Leader will:

Introduce the topic
This might include brief background information and history of the topic, or the main issues or opposing viewpoints (pro/con) that people have on the topic. You may state your personal opinion on the topic or you may play devil's advocate and choose to support the least-popular side of the argument in order to generate discussion.

Facilitate the discussion
This means that the leader, should not let the discussion get too boring nor let the argument get too heated. You should use Discussion Strategies to move the discussion forward (i.e. not let the conversation get stuck on one point for too long). Make sure that everyone contributes to the discussion.

After the discussion, the Discussion Leader will:

Give a brief report to the class
Give a report to the class summarizing the pro/con issues of your topic and the group's conclusion.

Here are some ideas to help you get started on your discussion topics. You are, of course, free to come up with your own topics, as long as there are some identifiable issues involved that can be discussed/debated/ argued.

Possible discussion topics:

  • Athletic scholarships – should athletes get a free education? Are there others who are more deserving?
  • Computer crime – should the Internet be regulated?
  • Cosmetic (plastic) surgery – pro/con?
  • China's one child policy – pro/con?
  • Cloning – pro/con?
  • Corporal punishment – should teachers have the right to physically punish students?
  • Death penalty – pro/con?
  • Drinking age – should the legal drinking age be lowered?
  • English as a global language – should everyone learn English? Or another language?
  • Environment – should we keep drilling for oil or look for alternatives?
  • Euthanasia – pro/con?
  • Feminism – are women treated equally as men? Should they be? Are they equally capable?
  • Immigration – should it be stopped, limited, expanded?
  • Language learning – reading, writing, listening, speaking – which is most important?
  • Mandatory military service (draft) – should all men or even women serve in the military?
  • Mixed marriages – pro/con?
  • Pronunciation / accent – should language teachers try to teach their students to sound like "native speakers?"

Any topic that you are interested in from your experiences or home country/culture/ language is acceptable as long as you make it and the issues involved interesting and understandable to your classmates!

Discussion Strategies

Here are some words and short phrases that can help you say what you want during a classroom discussion. There are ten different categories of words and phrases listed here. For each category, try to learn at least one to use in your discussions (you should also become familiar with the others, so you can recognize them when other people use them and eventually use them yourself).

Listing the Points You Want to Make
First,…
Second,…(Third,…etc.)
Finally,…
First of all,…
Next,…
Last,…(Lastly,…)
To begin with,…
Then,…
The first thing is…
The last thing is…
Another thing is…
The next (second, third, etc.) things is. . .

Emphasizing Points, Reasons, etc.
One reason is…
Another reason is…
Still another reason is…
The problem is that…
The main reason (thing, problem, etc.) is…
My main point is that…
The trouble is…
The sad (great, etc.) thing about it is…
Besides that…

Introducing Surprising Aspects
Believe it or not…
You may not believe this, but…
This might sound funny (strange, unbelievable, etc.) but…
Did you realize that…

Expressing Realism
Actually,…
Frankly,…
To be honest with you,…
Frankly speaking,…
Let's face it…
I doubt that…
I honestly doubt that…
I really don't believe that…
Come on! You don't really believe that, do you?

Making an Educated Guess
It looks like (as if)…
It looks to me like (as if)…
I assume that…

Guessing
I guess…
I'd guess that…
I'd say that probably…
Could it be that…?
Do you think it might be…?
There's always a chance that…
I wonder if…

Levels of Conviction About Opinions
Without a doubt…
I'm pretty sure that…
I think that…
I'm (completely) convinced that…
I'm fairly certain that…
I guess that…
I really believe that…
I'm almost positive that…
Maybe…
I'm positive (convinced)!
I have reason to believe that…
I kind of think that…
I'm fairly certain…
I don't know for sure, but maybe…

Giving Personal Viewpoint
Well, in my opinion,…
My personal opinion (view) is…
I personally believe (think, feel)…
In my mind,…
The way I see it,…
In my case,…
What I'm concerned about is…

Fact versus Gossip
On the Channel 5 news they said…
I heard that…
I read in the newspaper that…
Someone said that…
According to a research paper by Higgens,…
Rumor has it that…
The president of SONY said…
I heard through the grapevine that…

Interrupting and Adding Your Opinion
Yes, but (and, so, then, or)…
Maybe, but (and, so, then, or)…
Maybe so, but (and, so, then, or)…
That could be, but (and, so, then , or)…
I don't know about that…
Just a minute!
Hold on a second!
Excuse me. Could I add something to that?