Listening for Agreement & Disagreement

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  • 0:01 Agreement & Disagreement
  • 0:47 Two Speakers
  • 2:00 One Speaker
  • 3:42 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.

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.

Two Speakers

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.

One Speaker

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.

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