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Everyday English 2
Everyday English 2

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1 Speaking in different ways

Speaking and listening skills are important in all aspects of your life. It is through them that you get by in everyday situations, connect with other people, and build and maintain relationships. They can influence people’s judgements about you. People are influenced by what you say and you need to make sure that you are easily understood by others.

Described image
Figure 1 Everyday speaking and listening

This applies to your working life as well as your personal life. Being able to listen and to speak clearly and confidently are skills that are highly valued whatever your job. So, what does it mean to be a clear and confident speaker?

Activity 1 What makes a clear and confident speaker?

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Watch the speaker in the short video below. Do you think she speaks clearly and confidently? Why do you think that?

Download this video clip.Video player: bltl_vid_01_eng_1_poor_speaker.mp4
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Discussion

The speaker looks and sounds nervous and unsure, which probably makes you, the listener, feel a bit uncomfortable. There are lots of pauses and ‘ums’ and ‘likes’. It’s hard to work out what she is saying or trying to say, and is quite frustrating to listen to. She does not speak clearly or confidently.

Now watch the video below. Tick the statements that you think apply to the speaker in this case.

Download this video clip.Video player: bltl_vid_02_eng_1_good_speaker.mp4
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Discussion

You probably ticked most or all of the statements. They all apply to someone who speaks clearly and confidently. It’s much easier in this video to follow what the speaker is saying compared to the first video. She knows what she wants to say and looks and sounds relaxed and confident, which makes it easier to understand the point she is making and is more enjoyable to listen to.

It is important that you use the correct language for the context. You should adapt your style and approach to suit your audience. For example, the way you would describe your symptoms to the doctor is likely to be different from describing the same illness to a friend. Or, if you were collecting money for a good cause, you would persuade your friends to contribute using different language from what you would use with a stranger.

The language and style you use when you are speaking will depend on:

  • who you are talking to
  • the situation
  • what you expect or hope to happen as a result.