Listening for agreement and disagreement can be tough if English isn’t your first language.
Here are some tips and practice questions to help you make it work.
Agreement ; Disagreement
Understanding agreement and disagreement is an important part of understanding spoken English fluently. If you’re participating in a conversation, or even just listening to one, you need to know the signs of agreement and disagreement so you can follow what’s going on. If you’re listening to a lecture, like a professor talking in a classroom, you’ll also need to be able to pick up on when the speaker is discussing other people’s ideas and whether he agrees or disagrees with them.In this lesson, we’ll go over key words and clues that will help you listen for agreement and disagreement. First, we’ll tackle how you can use these tools in a conversation between two or more speakers.
Then, we’ll talk about listening to a single speaker discuss whether or not he disagrees with someone else’s idea or ideas.
If you’re listening to a conversation between two speakers, one key technique is to listen for key words that signal agreement or disagreement – or a little bit of both. Here are some examples. Remember that within the course of a single conversation, two speakers might agree on one topic, but disagree on another. Here’s an example:JOAN: Isn’t it beautiful outside today? I love those autumn days when it’s crisp and sunny.PEGGY: Actually, I much prefer it when it’s really cold and snowy.
JOAN: You like the winter? But it’s so hard getting anything done in the snow!PEGGY: I know, but it’s so pretty with everything white.JOAN: We can both agree that the worst is when it’s all gray and cold and raining, though, right?PEGGY: Right. Then it’s just ugly. I only like the winter when it snows.
In this passage, Joan and Peggy disagree about what kinds of days they like best, but they both agree that they don’t like days when it’s gray and rainy. You can hear how both women use transition words to indicate their opinions. Listening to these words can help guide you through the conversation, so you can follow who is agreeing and disagreeing with what.
The last example was a conversation between two people. If you’re listening to only one speaker, agreement and disagreement get a little different.
Obviously, the speaker isn’t going to disagree with himself. But he might be talking about someone else, and he might disagree with the person he’s talking about.To figure this out, pay attention to phrases like ‘they say,’ ‘they think,’ or ‘they claim,’ or other indications that the speaker is describing someone else’s opinion. He may choose to agree or disagree with that opinion, and then you can use the same key words and phrases to navigate the speaker’s opinion. Let’s listen to an example, just to see how it works.
CAPTAIN DIRK: Right now, Spacefleet is considering a program to let starship captains test out new and experimental technology if they feel it would help their crew. Some of the other captains in Spacefleet oppose this program. They think it would be dangerous to bring untested new inventions onto starships at the captain’s discretion.
But I disagree. I think that any dangers from the technology would be more than canceled out by the potential benefits it could have for the crew.In this passage, Captain Dirk is disagreeing with the other captains. You can hear how he uses the same transition words as the women in the previous passage, especially ‘But I disagree.
‘ Basically, you can think of this as the speaker creating a conversation between himself and the other captains. Then you can use the same key words to listen for agreement and disagreement within that conversation.
In this lesson, you got some tips about listening for agreement and disagreement in spoken English. If you’re listening to two or more speakers having a conversation, be alert for key words and phrases, like ‘yes,’ ‘you’re right,’ or ‘but;’ that can signal agreement or disagreement.
If you’re listening to one speaker, watch for phrases that introduce someone else’s ideas, like ‘some people say’ or ‘they say’ – then look out for what the speaker thinks of those other ideas. Being alert for these key words and phrases can help you follow the flow of ideas in the passage and keep on top of who is agreeing with what.
After finishing this lesson, you should be able to recall key words and phrases in English that indicate agreement or disagreement when listening to one or two speakers.