┃Read in less than 7 minutes
In this part of the Speaking test, you are given a mind map and written prompts. The examiner then gives you instructions for the task which you discuss with your partner for about two minutes. Let’s look at an example:
The prompts are there to guide you. You don’t need to talk about them all; it’s more important to have a detailed discussion with your speaking partner.
1. Discuss amicably.
(TIP: Smile and make eye contact)
In Part 3, you both have an opportunity to talk about the topic and share your opinions. Of course, you could have different feelings and views depending on the topic, so remember that the test isn’t a place to debate or argue, it’s a place to discuss and share different ideas in an open, relaxed way. What’s more, it’s important to make sure your body language isn’t defensive as it might intimidate your speaking partner. The friendlier you look, the more comfortable they will feel… and the better you’ll both do in the test!
2. Listen attentively.
(TIP: Learn to listen as well as you speak)
Whether you’re on a dinner date, in a business meeting or in your Speaking test, actively listening to your speaking partner will make you a better conversationalist and improve the quality of your conversation.
Active listeners have a variety of skills, but the most useful for the Speaking test are the ability to ask open-ended questions (‘What do you think about …?’ ‘How do you feel about …?’) and to request clarification if they don’t understand something (‘What exactly do you mean?’ ‘Could you explain what you mean by …?’) They are attentive and pay careful attention to what someone is saying without getting distracted or bored.
To be a good listener, you also need to let the other person know that you are listening. Use body language and gestures, like nodding your head or smiling, to show that you’re engaged. By nodding, you aren’t necessarily agreeing with their point of view, you’re simply showing them that they’ve got your full attention.
3. React appropriately.
(TIP: Don’t be a brick wall)
Another good way to show that you’re actively listening to your speaking partner, is to react to what they’ve said. In other words, once they’re done speaking, acknowledge their opinions and then agree or disagree with them. The examiner will grade you on how well you can do this.
You partner says: I think social media marketing can be very effective as it engages people and makes them talk.
You could reply: I couldn’t agree with you more. It can create a buzz around a specific product which makes people want to buy it.
This statement shows strong agreement. Here are some more examples:
- I (completely) agree with you.
- You’re absolutely right.
- There’s no doubt about that.
- My thoughts exactly!
- I see exactly what you mean!
- I couldn’t have said it better myself!
Your partner says: As I see it, email marketing is an art. If you get it right, it’s a highly effective way to communicate directly with your customers.
You could reply: That’s well put. I agree that it can be used to engage both exisiting and potential clients.
You can also express agreement in more neutral terms. For example:
- That’s a good point.
- I’m with you on that.
- That’s (very) well put.
- I see what you mean.
- That’s also how I see it.
- You can’t argue with that.
So, take care to use the appropriate phrases to express the extent to which you agree with your speaking partner’s opinions.
4. Disagree respectfully.
(TIP: Don’t offend anyone)
It’s okay if you and your speaking partner don’t agree. In fact, in the Speaking test disagreement can be a good thing as it leads to further discussion. That said, when you disagree with someone, it can be difficult to express your point of view without offending that person. That’s why it’s good to acknowledge your speaking partner’s opinion before you disagree. Make it clear that you understand what they’re saying and that it is a valid point they’re making.
You partner says: I am no expert on this, but I think that the sponsorship of major sporting events can be an excellent way of marketing products to consumers.
You could reply: That’s a valid point, but I think it only applies to big corporations which have massive advertising budgets.
It can also be a good idea to add an apology to introduce your disagreement as this makes it more polite and less direct. And remember to always add a reason for your differing opinion.
You partner says: I don’t think radio adverts are as popular as they used to be.
You could reply: I’m afraid I have to disagree with you on that. Online radio platforms like Spotify are hugely popular and I imagine they’d be a great place for advertising.
This shows the language of disagreement. Here are some more examples:
- I see what you’re saying, but …
- I take your point, but …
- I see what you mean. However, …
- I’m not convinced.
If you’d like to sound more British, then you can pretend to be unsure about agreeing.
You could say: I’m not sure I agree with you about this.
You would mean: I absolutely disagree with you!
5. Share ‘talking time’ equally.
(TIP: Don’t sit in silence)
One of the most important skills for this part of the exam is question-asking. It gets the conversation going, and keeps it going! This is a collaborative task which means it should be a dialogue, not a monologue. Whatever you do, don’t monopolise the two minutes. To do well in the task, you need to bring your speaking partner into the discussion to ensure equal talking time. The easiest way to do this is by asking them for their ideas and opinions. For example:
You could say: I think that when it comes to theme park holidays the main consideration is the cost. I’ve heard that tickets can be very pricey – especially if you’re paying for the whole family. What do you think about that?
Now take a look at another mind map and try to think of some questions you could ask your speaking partner to get their opinion on the topic.
Here are some more examples.
- How do you feel about (working holidays)?
- What are your thoughts on (adventure holidays)?
- What’s your view/take on (holidays with educational activities)?
- What do you reckon (= think) people consider on (a beach holiday)?
Once your time is up for the first part of the task, the examiner asks you another question which you talk about for one minute, e.g.:
Which would be the best holiday option for someone who is stressed and in need of a break?
You and your speaking partner need to then reach an agreement. Again, take care not to dominate the conversation, but rather exchange ideas until you come to a decision about the question that’s been asked.
You could say: Some people may disagree with me, but I’d say most of us would find a beach holiday the most relaxing. How do you feel about that?
Your partner says: I think you’re right. There is something about the sand, the sun and the sound of the ocean that is great at relieving stress.
You could say: So, do we agree on that?
Your partner replies: Yes, we certainly do!
Why not do some practice before you go?
Read these controversial statements and then say whether you agree or disagree with them. Remember to use the language from this blog, and be respectful!
Bottled water should be banned.
Social media does more harm than good.
Artificial intelligence is a danger to society.
Unpaid internships should be against the law.
Violent computer games make children violent.
People should be legally required to get vaccines.
Write your answers in the comment section below! First commenters will get feedback on their writing 🙂