7 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID IN A DISCUSSION

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What typical mistakes do people make when taking the STANAG 6001 level 3 so called discussion, that is TASK 2 of the spoken exam?
What to do to avoid them?
How to fulfill the exam requirements?

 

If you need answers to those questions, keep on reading.
Today a few words about typical mistakes which people make in TASK 2 of the spoken exam and some tips on how to avoid them.
If you are not sure what the requirements concerning the exam TASK 2 are, check out these posts:
General description of task 2: https://www.stanagexpert.com/stanag-level-3-discussion/
Useful phrases and exam tips: https://www.stanagexpert.com/discussion-useful-phrases/
Sample discussionhttps://www.stanagexpert.com/sample-discussion/

1. UNNATURAL DISCUSSION

One of the biggest problems people have in TASK 2, PART A is to conduct a relatively natural discussion. What mistakes do they typically make?
They start with a formal and irrelevant introduction, such as "Good morning ladies and gentlemen, we are here to..." or "Hello, Jack, our task is to discuss...".
Their conversation is unnatural and theatrical. It does not resemble a natural conversation, but a staged drama.
Unnaturally sophisticate language and inaccurately used complex structures make the discussion additionally artificial.
What to do?
Many people say: -Well, but it is artificial. It is not a real discussion, it's an exam.
True, but the exam requirements are that it should RESEMBLE a natural conversation.
It is supposed to be a natural conversation based on the exchange of arguments on a given topic.
It should resemble a semi-formal discussion with a colleague or someone you have just met.
So, try to avoid "taking to the skull", artificial introductions and lofty language. It's not the Shakespearian theatre. It is supposed to be a dialogue of real people.
Try to exchange arguments with your colleague in the most natural way.

2. MONOLOGUING

The task in PART A is to have a conversation, and a conversation is not a series of monologues. This is the most frequent mistake people make, trying to say as much as they know about a factor in one go, without interacting with the second candidate. They don't refer to what the colleague has said. They don't express their opinion apart from saying 'I agree' or 'I disagree'.
Another mistake is unequal participation of both candidates in the discussion. One candidate dominates the discussion and another one is passive, which means only answering the questions and not initiating the conversation by asking questions.
What to do?
The discussion should be based on the exchange of opinions supported with arguments and justification which is done in turns. Each candidate apart from giving his or her opinion should ask about the second candidate's opinion, agree or disagree with his or her arguments.
It is necessary to refer to the arguments brought up by the partner and react directly to what he or she says.

3. ARGUMENTATION

It is also a mistake to give an opinion without justifying it appropriately. Instead of explaining their point of view, candidates often have a shallow discussion consisting of listed examples, without the justification of one's own arguments, avoiding the analysis of the factor by moving to the next one.
What to do?
The discussion should be a thorough one.
Each factor listed in the exam task should be discussed in detail by both candidates, so as two people have a chance to offer their opinion and arguments about each element.
Arguments should be precise and developed.
Each opinion should be justified. It's a good habit to always have a 'because' in the sentence.
'I believe that .... because: firstly,... secondly,... and finally,...  For example,...  Do you share my point of view that ... ?'
The questions should also be precise. It's better to ask: 'Do you agree that ... is the most dangerous?' than ask a general question, such as: 'Do you agree with me?'

4. PRECISION

In Part B, the examiner asks questions which are not on the card with the task.
The most common problem is the lack of precise answers to examiners' questions resulting from misunderstanding of the question.
People often try to turn a general/abstract question into a question about personal experience, particular situation, example.
What to do?
You are required to answer the examiner's questions precisely. If you don't understand a question or a word, you should ask about it in an appropriate way, such as: "I'm not quite sure what you mean by .... Could you explain the question?" or "Could you clarify the question for me?" It's better than guessing or answering a question which has not been asked.  Anyway, it's a normal practice in a real life conversation to ask what your interlocutor means or ask for clarification.
The idea of this task is to check candidates' ability to discuss general and abstract ideas. So, don't change your answer into an anecdote from your life.
It's more like an journalistic/sociologist analysis that you are expected to deliver.

5. LANGUAGE

Sometimes in order to show what they know, people try to speak in a very formal and official way, which is unnatural for a conversation like that. They use connectors characteristic for written language, such as moreover, furthermore.
What to do?
Don't exaggerate. Focus on arguments, not on sophisticated language. Use advanced/sophisticated language and grammar naturally. But, don't be too simplistic. Common sense and healthy balance are advised. 🙂

6. TIMING

People often forget about or ignore the time limit or mistake it with the time limit for a briefing.
What to do?
Your discussion should be 5-6 minutes long. Not shorter and not longer.
Why is it so important? Administration - every exam must take about 25 minutes for organisational reasons, so that other candidates don't have to wait for their turn.

7. CONCLUSION

A common conclusion is always a controversial issue. PART A resembles negotiations, so the common conclusion is a welcome outcome and a sign of success. That is why it is recommended, although not obligatory. 
However, if it is only possible to agree, I recommend a common conclusion, which is the confirmation of a successful negotiation and task achievement.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below the post   or contact me via e-mail:info@stanagexpert.com