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Everyday English 2
Everyday English 2

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3.2 Moving the discussion on

In a Functional Skills English Level 2 or an Essential Skills Wales Communication Level 2 discussion, you gain marks for asking and answering questions and helping to move the discussion forward.

Once you are involved in a discussion, you need to be able to identify when it is getting stuck and to move it on.

You know a discussion has lost its way when the conversation seems to be going round in circles. There are a number of reasons why this might be happening:

  • Proposals may not have been put forward clearly.
  • Those present may not be able to agree for some reason.
  • People may not be listening to each other properly.
  • There may be some external pressure limiting the discussion, such as lack of time.
  • The outcome is unclear.
  • Not all the facts are known.

There are several things you can do to make sure a discussion moves on again.

Activity 12 Moving things on or slowing them down?

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

Listen to the short audio below, which is part of a discussion among four people about making a shared hallway safer and more welcoming for visitors.

When you hear someone say something that either moves the discussion on or stops it moving on, pause the audio and write down:

  • who spoke
  • whether they moved the discussion on or slowed it down
  • how they did so.

You will probably need to listen to the audio more than once.

When you have finished, write down whether you think the discussion was generally moving on well or not, and why you think this.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: track_28.mp3
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Who spoke? Did they move the discussion on or slow it down? How did they do this?
Paul Tried to move it on By reminding people what the meeting was for.
Sharon Tried to move it on. By focusing on the future, not the past.
Nita and Julie Slowed things down. By making negative comments, e.g. Nita: ‘It’s been a mess for years.’

Overall, the discussion was not moving on well because there were no clear proposals for how to improve things.

Constructive contributions build on what is being said in a discussion and move it forward. You can make constructive contributions by:

  • acknowledging other people’s contributions, for instance by picking up and developing their point or by encouraging them to make a contribution to the discussion
  • asking an open question
  • giving information or an opinion
  • reminding people of the purpose of the discussion so that everyone can refocus
  • summarising what has been said so far.

Recapping or summarising can be particularly helpful during a long discussion or when there are lots of details. At various times during the discussion you (or someone else) can stop and remind people of what has been said so far and what you still have to do.

Here are some useful phrases:

  • ‘Let’s just check where we have got to.’
  • ‘Can we just recap?’
  • ‘Is everyone clear about what has just been said?’
  • ‘Does anyone want to add anything to what has been said?’
  • ‘Can we confirm that we have all agreed to …?’
  • ‘Does everyone know what they have to do next?’

In a Functional Skills English Level 2 discussion, you gain marks for presenting your ideas clearly and persuasively to others.

In an Essential Skills Wales Communication Level 2 discussion, you gain marks for providing appropriate information and offering opinions and feelings about the topic under discussion.