Watch the video of two students having a discussion in a speaking exam. Then read the tips below.
Here are our top tips for discussions.
- Think about your opinion before the discussion starts.
- Say what you really think about the topic and explain why you think that.
- Listen to what your partner says and say if you agree or disagree.
- Make sure you know the language for agreeing and disagreeing.
- Be polite if you disagree.
- Ask your partner what he/she thinks.
- Use every second you are given to do the task.
- Finish the discussion by summarising what you have spoken about.
- Only give your own opinion but also respond to your partner.
- Worry if you don't agree with your partner. That's fine!
- Talk about things that are not relevant to the topic.
- Let the discussion stop. Keep it going!
Example discussion topics
You will probably be given a topic that has pros and cons, or advantages and disadvantages. Here are some example topics:
- The internet is the best way to do your shopping.
- Young people under 15 shouldn’t use mobile phones.
- All young people should stay at school until they are 18.
- There shouldn’t be any advertising on TV during children’s programmes.
- Famous celebrities shouldn’t complain if the paparazzi take photos of them every day.
- It is the children’s responsibility to look after their parents when they get old.
- Dogs should be banned from cities.
Worksheets and downloads
Social networking can be too dangerous for young people and should only be available to adults.
Examiner: So, now we’re going to have a short discussion. You’ve got one minute to take notes and prepare together for a two-minute discussion. Remember to listen, take turns and explain your opinions.
Kelvin: So, shall I start first?
Kelvin: Yeah, so we need to discuss whether social networking can be dangerous for young people and whether they should be only available to adults. So, do you have any ideas?
Melissa: I disagree with that statement because I think young people can keep contact with old or new friends on their social network and it can develop their good relationships and it can increase their self-esteem.
Kelvin: Yeah, I see your points, but using social networking could be dangerous to young people because many of them don’t know how to keep their personal information safe, so some of my friends even put their mobile phone numbers on their Facebook, so I think criminals may use the information to commit some crime. What do you think?
Melissa: I see your point, but I think it can give the teenagers a chance to notice who is good and who is bad and to try to learn how to protect themselves from these guys.
Kelvin: That’s a good point, but I think social networking could also be a platform for cyberbullying, which means that someone may take some photos of others, and for sure it’s not very good photos, and put it on the internet and let people laugh at them. So I think it could be very dangerous for the young people using social networking sites.
Melissa: You’re right, but I think in the real world people can bully each other as well, so I think that it’s not a big problem. And I think I disagree with that statement because I think young people can make friends on the social network and they can share things in their life to each other which can broaden their vision.
Kelvin: That’s true, yes. Social networking provides many benefits to young people, I see that. But I think young people shouldn’t be banned from using social networking sites but adults need to teach them the correct attitudes in using the social networking. That would be better, I think.
Melissa: Yeah, you’re right, so which means in conclusion we both think social networking can be used and applicable for adults and teenagers.
This is a very common task in a speaking exam. Tell us which questions you have been asked in your school exams. How did you answer them?