Discussion exam


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Information, advice and tips for a university level, academic English discussion exam.

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Discussion exam

  1. 1. Discussion Exam
  2. 2. University of Nottingham Ningbo China Centre for English Language Education Listening and Speaking in Academic Contexts Preliminary Year, Semester 1, 2011 Discussion Exam
  3. 3. DiscussionExamGeneral instructions: • 4 randomly chosen students • topic taken from any unit in Lecture Ready 3 • 12 minutes + 2 minutes preparation time • the discussion is recorded • the group discussion is marked using 5 criteria, each worth 20%.
  4. 4. Procedure:• The group will be given a question related to one of the topics from Lecture Ready 3, chapters 1 to 10 inclusive.• Read through the question and think about what you have read or heard about this topic.• There will be two minutes to prepare for the discussion.• Each student will be provided with a small piece of paper to make notes.• If you wish to ask another group member a question about the topic you should do so in English.• It is acceptable to ask questions about the meaning of the question during the discussion but the question and answer must be in English.
  5. 5. Preamble to QuestionsYou will be given a card with the following information on it. Read the following question and think about the problems involved. In your discussion you should mention: • which stakeholders are involved • how the situation affects them • differing opinions about this topic • your own opinion(s).
  6. 6. Marking criteriaIndividual • Fluency • Vocabulary • Pronunciation • InteractionGroup • Content
  7. 7. To obtain a good mark in these criteria youneed to do the following:•Fluency Speak without hesitation, on topic, without having to pause to search for words.• Vocabulary Use the vocabulary relevant to the topics in Lecture Ready 3 plus relevant vocabulary from AVU.• Pronunciation Use word and sentence stress and appropriate intonation. Your voice should always be clear.
  8. 8. To obtain a good mark in these criteria youneed to do the following:•Interaction Consistently engage and sustain interaction. Listen and respond supportively and effectively. Make sure all group members speak and help others if necessary.• Content Be extremely well informed and relevant. Completely fulfill requirements of the task. Be able to talk about articles or lectures related to the question. Answer the question given.
  9. 9. AssessmentSpeaking test assessment is based on:• your ability to communicate effectively• your ability to use a variety of and appropriate vocabulary and sentence structures• your ability to take initiative in a conversation• general fluency• good organization of ideas• relevance of content
  10. 10. You should:• develop your ideas as much as possible• speak as much as possible• link your ideas together, and use appropriate linking structures between you and the other participants• attempt to use complicated sentence structures and vocabulary
  11. 11. • use a variety of sentence structures – simple, compound and complex• use a variety of vocabulary – synonyms, different word forms, pronouns, idiomatic language• have an appropriate balance between formal and informal language• use self-correction if necessary
  12. 12. Discussion ideasIt is not necessary for everybody to agree butall group members should explain their pointof view and try to persuade the others.You could talk about all or some of thefollowing:
  13. 13. • background information• short term/long term effects• different stakeholders’ views• causes /effects• advantages/disadvantages• similarities/differences• different criteria e.g. price, environmental impact, difficulty of implementation
  14. 14. • an analysis - why, how• an evaluation - e.g. useful/not useful• strengths/weaknesses• opportunities/threats
  15. 15. You should: • support with details e.g. facts, examples, reasons, figures • include information from your readings - authors’ points of view • not use vague language e.g. important, good, bad, etc. - give exact details and information • express your own opinion • study all the topics in the book.
  16. 16. Advice and tips The tutor will say: “Start your discussion now.” A suggested way to discuss the topic: One of the students should read out the question and ask the others about it.Example: • What do you know about this topic? • Who would like to start? • Where shall we begin? • What did we learn about this in class?

  17. 17. There are a number of other ways to start adiscussion.Here are some that you can use: • Ask for opinions about the topic. • Mention an article you have read about the topic. • Mention a lecture or broadcast you have heard. • Suggest a definition for a key term.

  18. 18. Expressions you might find useful:Asking for opinions about the topic. •So, what does anybody think about this? •Do you think this is a big problem?Mention an article you have read about the topic/ something you have heard. •There’s an article by XXXX about this. •We saw a lecture in class which was related to this topic. •I found something about this when I was surfing on the web. •There was something about this on the BBC last week.
  19. 19. Suggest a definition for a key term. •When he says ‘Chinese’ is he talking about the language or the culture? •When I say ‘modern’ I mean during the last ten years. •‘Expensive’ is a little difficult to define. I mean something which is above the average price.Give an example. •I mean the kind of modern Chinese language you can hear on CCTV. •For me innovation means some really new idea, like mobile phones when they first came out.
  20. 20. If there are any words in the question which areunclear or confusing, ask for a definition orexplanation.Example: • I’m not sure what they mean by the word xxxx. • Could somebody tell me what xxxx means? • I think xxxx has several meanings. • What does anybody think it means here? • What do you think they mean by xxxx in this sentence?

  21. 21. The group should spend a little time discussingthe meaning of the question and mentionrelevant articles they have read.Example: • The article in Lecture Ready 3 talked about this. They said … • That was in the Lecture Ready 3 article. I think the main idea was… • I read another article on this topic. It was an online article from the BBC and it said… • There was something about this on the CNN news. They said…

  22. 22. The aim of the discussion is for you all to addtogether the information you have and to use itto improve your understanding of the topic.Students may have the same opinions ordifferent ones. You should always mentiondifferent points of view whether or not youagree with them.Example: • I think this is quite true but some people might not think so because… • I agree with you but I read an article which gave the opposite point of view. • It is true that xxxx but only in some cases.

  23. 23. Do listen to the others and show that you havebeen listening. Check if you are not sure.Example: • Did you mean to say that…? • Could you clarify what you meant by…? • Sorry, I’m not quite sure that I could follow your idea. • Could you give an example? • So, do you mean that…?

  24. 24. The tutor will tell you that you have one minuteleft so somebody should sum up.Example: • So, the main idea that we have discussed is … • It seems that the main point in this discussion is… • We all agree that the main problem here is… • Actually we don’t all have the same point of view. Two of us think xxxx and the other two think yyyy.

  25. 25. Do not:• pause too much or for too long• repeat words or phrases at the beginning of sentences• say “that’s all” or "I’m finished” at the end of an answer, instead use falling intonation to indicate you have finished speaking• give very short answers
  26. 26. As you finish…
  27. 27. As you finish…
  28. 28. Before the exam• Try to analyze your speech to discover any weaknesses you may have and then work to improve those areas.• Take any and every opportunity to use English.• Listen to a variety of English speakers and think about how they speak in different situations.
  29. 29. Good speechQuestions: • Perfect pronunciation• What makes someone • Correct intonation a good speaker? • Appropriate pausing• When do you need to • Suitable stress speak accurately? • Accurate grammar• When is just getting your message across • Fitting vocabulary enough? • Fluency (continuing to speak)