Speaking Skills: Different opinions
In this week's Premier Skills English Podcast, Jack and Rich talk about football rules and laws they would like to change. The language focus is on words and phrases we use to give strong opinions and phrases we use to respond to other people's opinions. Your task is to tell us about a rule or law that you would like to change. As always, we have a new football phrase for you to guess at the end of the podcast. Enjoy!
Jack: You can’t be happy with the result yesterday.
Rich: No, I’m not, not at all. To be honest, we were robbed.
Jack: Robbed? What do you mean?
Rich: The first goal they scored was miles offside and then we had a goal disallowed that was onside!
Jack: I see your point about the first, but the second looked like a good decision to me.
Rich: Well, what about that handball. It should never have been a penalty. The ball hit him in the chest.
Jack: I have to say that it looked like his arm to me.
Rich: And then, our goalkeeper was sent off for a well-timed tackle!
Jack: Well, if he meant to get him in the stomach then I suppose it was well-timed.
Rich: And we couldn’t even replace the goalkeeper when we tried to.
Jack: I think you might have misunderstood the rules there. You’d already made three substitutions. You can’t make any more.
Rich: Well, I don’t like that rule. We really should have won the game.
Jack: That’s absolute garbage! You’re telling me if it wasn’t for the handball rule, offside rule, rules about substitutes and not being allowed to tackle someone above the waist you’d have won the game?
Welcome - Different Opinions
Rich: Hello my name’s Rich
Jack: and I’m Jack
Rich: and welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast
Jack: Where we talk about football and help you with your English.
Jack: What’s happening this week, Rich?
Rich: In this week’s podcast, we’re going to look at two areas of language. First we’ll look at the language we use to give opinions in a strong way so other people agree with us.
Jack: We might say things like ‘I am 100% certain that football should be taught at school’ ...
Rich: Or ‘I am totally convinced that the best way to learn English is listening to podcasts!’.
Jack: We’re also going to look at the language we use to acknowledge someone’s opinion and say if we agree with it or not before giving our own opinion.
Rich: There were some examples of this in the opening conversation. Jack said, ‘ I see your point about the first but the second looked like a good decision to me’ and ‘That’s absolute garbage, you’re telling me …’
Jack: So we are going to ask you to listen to a few arguments and then your task this week is to tell us a rule that you’d like to change and to reply to others using some of the language from this podcast.
Rich: Don’t forget to listen to the end of the podcast because we have this week’s football phrase for you to guess, too.
Topic Focus - Rules
Rich: In this section, you’re going to listen to two arguments. Jack and I are going to talk about a football rule we’d like to change or get rid of - abolish - not use any more.
Jack: We want you to imagine that we can only change one football rule. We have twenty seconds to give our arguments and persuade you.
Rich: Listen to our arguments and decide who you agree with or if you agree with both of us. Who do you think has the most convincing arguments?
Jack: I’d like to get rid of the offside rule. I don’t understand why it exists. If there was no offside there would be many more chances to score and loads more goals. Also, I’m fed up of my team having goals disallowed. It’s not fair and we’d have won much more often if it wasn’t for this rule.
Rich: I believe that the rule we should change or in this case introduce is called the sin bin. It is clear that people are fed up of players getting a booking for diving, time-wasting and little fouls that slow the game down. I am convinced that the sin bin, which is something used in other sports like rugby and ice-hockey, would reduce these offences. Instead of a yellow card, a player is sent off the pitch for 10 minutes. You must agree that players would think twice if they knew that they’d have to leave the pitch. Not only would the sin bin reduce the amount of fouls on the pitch but would also mean more game time on the pitch. Wouldn’t that be a good thing?
Language Focus 1
Jack: In the examples above, Rich used more persuasive or convincing language and had more reasons for his arguments than me.
Rich: You just whined.
Jack: I just whined?
Rich: Yeah, you know, you just complained about something. You didn’t really give any convincing arguments to why the rule should be changed.
Jack: Yes, you’re right. Let’s look at a few phrases you used. You started by saying ‘I believe’. This expresses a strong opinion. You also said ‘I am convinced’ which does the same thing.
Rich: I could have used a few other phrases that are similar, such as, ‘I’m 100% certain’ or ‘I’m totally sure’ or ‘I’m absolutely positive’. Adding an adverb like totally or absolutely makes what you are saying sound stronger.
Jack: You also said ‘you must agree’. That is a good way to convince people. By saying ‘you must agree’ you are telling people that this must be the right or correct opinion and anything else would be wrong or silly.
Rich: Some similar phrases you could use are: ‘you have to agree’, ‘you surely can’t disagree that’ ‘you can’t be in any doubt that’, ‘it is undeniable that’ or ‘you can’t deny the fact that’.
Jack: Rich also used a rhetorical question, he said ‘Wouldn’t that be a good thing?’ You don’t expect people to answer this type of question, you expect people to agree with you.
Rich: That’s right. You can also say things like ‘Wouldn’t it be better if …?’ or ‘Shouldn’t we all …?’ or ‘Isn’t it obvious …?’
Jack: Finally, Rich also gave reasons that backed up his opinions. It’s always good to give more than one reason and using the phrase ‘not only’ is a good way to do this.
Rich: I said, ‘Not only would the sin bin reduce the amount of fouls on the pitch but would also mean more game time on the pitch’.
Jack: You can use not only to give one reason to back up your argument and then but also to give a second reason to back up your argument.
Rich: I could also have used as well as. I could have said ‘as well as the sin bin reducing the amount of fouls it would also mean more game time on the pitch’.
Jack: Furthermore and what‘s more are two other phrases that can be used here. We look at these phrases on the website page below this podcast.
Rich: Now, in the next section we’re going to discuss another rule or law and we have different opinions.
Jack: While you listen we want you to answer two questions. Number one: What is the law or rule that we discuss? Number two: Who do you agree with?
Rich: At the end, we’ll look at more of the language.
Jack: I’m not sure about that, Rich. I see what you’re saying but they haven’t even been banned in London you just have to pay some extra money.
Rich: But, you must agree that we have to do something. There’s more and more pollution in city centres and most of it is from private cars. We could just ban them, as well as cleaner cities, this would mean quieter cities too.
Jack: I see your point, but it’s not as easy as that. I’m all for cleaner and quieter cities, but people wouldn’t be happy. They’d be up in arms.
Rich: We’d still have public transport. Wouldn’t it be better to see everybody using that?
Jack: I know, but in lots of cities it’s not good enough. You might have to walk a long way to the nearest bus stop or train station. I’m 100% certain that people don’t want to do that.
Rich: OK, you may have a point there, but I’m convinced people would get used to it and that’s something we should be trying to improve - public transport.
Jack: Yes, of course, that is always good. Having said that, I don’t think it’s the route we should go down. We should be looking at new car technologies and investing in them. We need cleaner cars not necessarily fewer cars.
Rich: That’s an interesting idea, but what about traffic problems. We’d still have lots of traffic jams with everybody using their own car.
Jack: Yes, but that’s a different discussion - at least they would be pollution free traffic jams!
Language Focus 2
Rich: In the last section, the rule that we discussed was whether cars should be banned in city centres.
Jack: The language we want to look at here is how we acknowledge or respond to the point or argument that the other person says.
Rich: It’s important not to ignore what the other person says in a discussion even if you disagree with them and there are some specific phrases you can use.
Jack: You may agree with what somebody says, agree partially or you may totally disagree with what someone says but that is not the most important thing. The important thing is that we want to move the discussion on to what you think and add a new point.
Rich: If you agree with what someone says you might say something like, ‘I couldn’t agree with you more’ or ‘You’re absolutely right’.
Jack: Then you may go on to make an additional point. You could then say something like, ‘And another thing is …’
Rich: If you partially agree with what someone says you might say something like, ‘OK, you may have a point there, but...’ or ‘I see your point, but ..’ or ‘I see what you’re saying, but …’.
Jack: We often use these phrases if we disagree with someone too. We are being polite by using these phrases.
Rich: That’s the same when we say things like, ‘That’s an interesting idea or that’s an interesting point’. In British culture when we say this, we often mean the opposite and don’t want to discuss it further.
Jack: It’s quite culturally specific but it’s often better to say ‘that’s a good idea’ if you really think something is interesting. In fact, I’ve read that ‘interesting idea’ is six times more likely to be followed by ‘but’ than when we say ‘good idea’.
Rich: If we disagree in an argument and want to be more direct we probably say things like: ‘I’m not sure about that’, ‘that’s not always the case/true’ or ‘not necessarily’.
Jack: These aren’t very direct.
Rich: I know. If we are even more direct we are probably angry and being rude or very impolite. We could use phrases like: ‘that’s absolutely rubbish’ or ‘that’s utter garbage’.
Jack: You can check your understanding of all of these phrases in the language activities on the Premier Skills English website. Just go to britishcouncil.org/premierskillsenglish and you will see this podcast on the homepage.
Rich: Your task this week is to tell us a rule or law that you’d like to change and to reply to other users using some of the language from this podcast.
Jack: If you want you can choose a football law or rule. It could be a rule that you’d like to introduce, a rule that you’d like to change or a rule that you’d like to get rid of.
Rich: Or if you’d prefer, you can choose a rule or law that you have at work, in your school or in your country. Again, it could be a rule or law that you’d like to introduce, you’d like to change or you’d like to get rid of.
Jack: We’d also like to invite you to make some troll arguments.
Rich: Really? That’s a bit risky.
Jack: I know. But we want you to write some silly, strange and controversial arguments so that other people can disagree with you. When you write your comment, try to use some of the language for opinions that we introduced in this podcast.
Rich: Phrases like, ‘I’m convinced’, ‘I’m 100% certain’, ‘wouldn’t it be better if’ or ‘I reckon we should’.
Jack: We would then like you to reply to people using some of the language we used in the podcast to acknowledge and respond to other people’s opinions such as ‘I see what you’re saying but …’, ‘That’s an interesting point, but …’, ‘to be honest that is utter garbage!’
Rich: However, remember to be polite wherever you can!
Jack: We’ll start with the arguments that we made in this podcast and you can reply to them in the comments section.
Rich: Have you got a football phrase for us this week?
Jack: Yes, I have, but first, last week’s football phrase. The phrase was physio. When a player gets injured on the pitch, the first person to run on to the pitch is usually the physio whose job it is to assess and treat injuries to players. It’s a shortened version of physiotherapist.
Rich: Well done to Richard J from Ecuador, AssemJuve from Palestine, Liubomyr from Ukraine, Zaid from India, Milos from Serbia, Kwesimanifest from Ghana, Lakerwang from China, Acicala from Spain and Ahmed Adam from Sudan. All of you got it right! What’s this week’s phrase, Jack?
Jack: This week’s football phrase is a difficult one. The phrase is ******* ****. This is a tactic that football teams play in defence. The idea is that the defenders move up the field at the same time so the attackers are in an illegal position when the ball is passed to them.
Rich: That is difficult. Here’s another clue. The second word in the phrase describes something you use to catch animals in the forest for example.
Jack: Right, that’s all we have time for this week! Don’t forget to tell us about a rule or law that you’d like to change and to reply to other listeners in the comments section.
Rich: And make a guess at our football phrase. Bye for now and enjoy your football!
How much did you understand?
In the podcast, Rich and Jack used some words and phrases that might be new for you. Do you know the words in bold?
I'd like to get rid of the offside rule.
Rich backed up his opinions while I just whined.
There are lots of traffic jams and too much pollution in our cities.
There were a few tricky words in the podcast. Do you know what they all mean? Try the activity below, then, listen to the podcast again to hear how we used the words.
In this week's podcast, Jack and Rich gave their opinions about rules and laws they would like to change. They had some strong opinions. Take a look at the words in bold:
I am convinced that the sin bin, would reduce these offences.
You must agree that players would think twice if they knew that they’d have to leave the pitch.
Not only would the sin bin reduce the amount of fouls on the pitch but would also mean more game time on the pitch.
Wouldn’t that be a good thing?
In the sentences above, you can see four different ways to make your opinion stronger and more persuasive.
- Personal opinions: 'I believe that ...' is the simplest form here but 'I am convinced that ...' is stronger. You could also use phrases such as: 'I am positive/sure/certain that ...' To make this language even stronger you could add an adverb and say something like: 'I'm absolutely convinced that ...' or 'I'm 100% certain that ...'
- Asking for agreement: Using phrases such as: 'You must agree that ...' encourages the listener to agree with you and that any alternative opinion would be wrong. Similar phrases are: 'it's undeniable that ...', 'you can't be in any doubt that' and 'you can't deny the fact that ...'.
- Backing up your argument:: Giving additional reasons for your opinion is always a good idea. One way to do this is by using the phrases not only and but also. You could also use as well as and also: 'as well as more goals, abolishing offside would also mean more attacking football.'
- Rhetorical questions: Rhetorical questions are questions that don't need an answer or where the speaker doesn't expect an answer. They are useful to make your opinions stronger. Some examples are: 'Wouldn’t it be better if …?’, ‘Shouldn’t we all …?’ or ‘Isn’t it obvious …?’
Look at the activity below and try to complete the sentences.
Words and phrases we use to respond to opinions
In the opening conversation and in the roleplay about pollution, Jack and Rich used lots of different words and phrases to respond to opinions. Take a look at the words and phrases in bold below. Are these phrases being used to agree or disagree with the speaker? Are they all polite?
I’m not sure about that, Rich. I see what you’re saying but they haven’t even been banned in London.
I see your point but It’s not as easy as that.
That’s an interesting idea, but what about traffic problems.
That’s absolute garbage! You’re telling me if it wasn’t for the handball rule, and offside rule you’d have won the game?
The first three sentences include phrases that are used to either agree partially or disagree in a polite way whereas the final sentence is used to disagree and the phrases are impolite.
Listen to the podcast again if you're not sure about how to use these phrases and more like them. Then, check your understanding by having a go at this activity. Can you complete the sentences?
A rule or law that you'd like to change:
Your task this week is to tell us a rule or law that you’d like to change and to reply to other users using some of the language from this podcast. As an example, here is what Rich said in the podcast:
I believe that the rule we should change or, in this case, introduce is called the sin bin. It is clear that people are fed up of players getting a booking for diving, time-wasting and little fouls that slow the game down. I am convinced that the sin bin, which is something used in other sports like rugby and ice-hockey, would reduce these offences. Instead of a yellow card, a player is sent off the pitch for 10 minutes. You must agree that players would think twice if they knew what was going to happen. Not only would the sin bin reduce the amount of fouls on the pitch but would also mean more game time on the pitch. Wouldn’t that be a good thing?
You can choose a football law or rule, or a rule or law that you have at work, in your school or in your country. It could be a rule that you’d like to introduce, a rule that you’d like change or a rule that you’d like to get rid of.
We would also like you to reply to other people and use some of the language we used in the podcast. As an example, here is Jack's response about the sin-bin:
I see what you're saying and I think it's a good point but I can't see it happening. I think the system works as it is so we probably won't see this change. What about a green card for time wasting and an extra minute gets added on at the end?
You can also add more controversial, silly or strange ideas to encourage more discussion, but remember to be polite wherever you can. We’ll start with the arguments that we made in this podcast and you can reply to them in the comments section.