21G.232 | Spring 2007 | Undergraduate

Advanced Speaking and Critical Listening Skills (ELS)


Mock Job Interview


In pairs, students will stimulate a job interview between a recruiter for Charles River Consulting and an MIT graduate. Each student will have the chance to be both the interviewer and the applicant. Each interview should last no more than four-five minutes.


The interview will take place between a candidate seeking a position as consultant with Charles River Consulting and the company’s Director of Human Resources.


Be familiar with the materials on job interviews. Please see MIT Career Office: Interviewing.

Worksheet for Strategic Interviews (PDF)


1. Starts interview with small talk. 1. Responds appropriately to small talk.
2. Ask 2-3 traditional questions. 2. Limits answers to 1-2 minutes.
3. Asks for clarification at least once when applicant responds. 3. Asks for clarification at least once when asked a question.
4. Asks 1-2 behavioral questions 4. Shows strategy (STAR or PAR) in answers.
5. Signals closure by asking applicant for questions. 5. Asks 1-2 questions near the end of the interview.


You will be evaluated only on your role as the job applicant. Please see the criteria for grading here (PDF).

Impromptu Debate

This assignment provides an opportunity to practice several communication skills we have been studying in class: efficient group dynamics, summarizing information, and impromptu speaking.

Each of you is expected to come to class having read your group’s assigned article on a controversial subject and considered both sides of the argument. You will be a member of a debate team. You will not know in advance whether you will be arguing for or against the proposition.

Your group’s performance will be based on the following criteria:

  1. Preparedness and choice of key arguments
  2. Group dynamics and flow between speakers
  3. Clarity of expression
  4. Use of gambits and flexibility in responding to opponents
  5. Nonverbal communication

Procedure (PDF)

Worksheet and Summary (PDF)

Interactive Teaching


Clearly demonstrates a process, provide instructions (“how to”) or exlpain a concept . Expect to be interrupted by teh audience members. Encourage the students to engage in this material, even if it means interrupting you. In other words, teach the class!

What to Bring with You to the Teaching Lab

  • An 8-cm Sony® Plus Rewriteable (RW) DVD
  • A one-page memo outlining your audience and key message (NOT your topic)
  • An outline of your lessons to hand into the instructor


Approximately 8-10 minutes (depending on the size of the class), including interactions (questions and comments) with the class.


A group of glass members.


  1. Choose a topic and key message to fit the audience and the time limit.
  2. Plan your opening remaks, organization and closing remarks of your teaching session carefully.
  3. Plan your use of the blackboard and/or handouts carefully.
  4. Speack extemporaneously from an outline or note cards.
  5. Study the strategies for teaching success reviewed and class and available here. (PDF)
  6. Antcipate several places in your teaching session where you can encourage interactions
  7. Practice pronouncing the key vocabulary of the lesson to be sure it is accurate.
  8. Review your past speaking evluations.

Formal Introduction

You may, at a conference, professional meeting, or formal celebration, be required to introduce a speaker. Think of a colleague or mentor whom you would like to introduce at a conference. Prepare notes for a 1-2 minute extemporaneous introduction.

A typical introduction for these kinds of events is designed to

  • Provide the audience with some background on the speaker (e.g., formal education)
  • Provide information that modesty may prevent the speaker from sharing (e.g., honors, accomplishments)
  • Appeal to the listeners’ interest
  • Indicate the importance of the topic

To be effective, you should be direct, respectful and brief. Avoid providing a detailed life history, or a long personal anecdote to “pad” your introduction.

Criteria for Grading Content and Style

  1. Demonstrated sensitivity to direct style and time limitations
  2. Provided the audience with a brief background on the speaker (e.g., formal education, honors, accomplishments)
  3. Provided a clear statement of the speaker’s purpose for the current talk
  4. Provided a graceful transition from the introduction to the speaker

Criteria for Grading Content and Style: Delivery

  1. Demonstrated effective verbal delivery in the following aspects:
    • Volume and pace
    • Pronunciation and phrasing
    • Gambits to signal start and end, and to move between statements
    • No dependence on notes
  2. Demonstrated effective nonverbal delivery in the following aspects:
    • Eye contact and facial expression
    • Posture and gestures

Explanation of a Visual Aid

Design one slide that demonstrates “best practice” and bring a hard copy (transparency or paper) to class. Be prepared to spend approximately two minutes explaining the content of the slide to the class.

Research/Business Presention with Q & A

You have approximately fifteen minutes to deliver a presentation, including a question and answer (Q & A) session, to a specific professional audience with a need for, and interest in, your information. You may base the presentation on material in one of your other course, on a paper or a research project you have already completed, or on research in which you are currently involved. Appropriate topics include the state of the art of a particular technology, exciting new research results and their ramifications; new uses for old methods/materials, policy analyses, and market research to identify new niches.

Guidelines for Successful Q & A Sessions (PDF)

Materials Needed

  • An 8-cm Sony® Plus Rewriteable (RW) DVD
  • A one-page memo describing your goal, audience and key message
  • An outline of your presentation
  • A laptop and Microsfot® PowerPoint® visuals
  • Paper copies of all visuals (no color printing required)


You will view your recorded presenation and prepare a short reaction/self-evaluation to send in an e-mail message to me no later than the last day of class.

Washington Week

Students were required to watch an episode of the PBS show Washington Week.

Washington Week Worksheet (PDF)

Critical Review Memos

You will be responsible for five short memos over the course of the semester; they are summarized below.

Please consult the following sample memos for proper formatting:

Sample Conventional Memo (PDF)

Sample Progress Memo (PDF)

1 Ses #2

Baseline Memo

In one-two pages, describe your experience in academic English, your strengths and weaknesses in formal speaking and active listening, and what you hope to gain from 21G.232/3. Provide examples to illustrate your points. Include a list of 5-10 key terms or phrases in your discipline - terms that you frequently read, hear and say.

2 Ses #10

Progress Memo

In 1-2 pages, review the materials (other than assignments) or communication-rich contexts that have helped you to study speaking and critical listening. Your progress memo must include a review of at least one recommended material listed in your syllabus.

See more detailed instructions below.

3 Ses #13

Class/Seminar Evaluation Memo

While you sit in a class or attend a seminar, take notes on the skill of the professor, TA or presenter. In a memo of 1-2 pages, describe the class period or seminar from the perspectives of

  • 1. appropriateness of purpose/audience,
  • 2. organization of material,
  • 3. delivery of material, and
  • 4. use of the blackboard or other visual aids.
4 Ses #17

Progress Memo

In 1-2 pages, review the materials (other than assignments) or communication-rich contexts that have helped you to study speaking and critical listening. Your progress memo must include a review of at least one recommended material listed in your syllabus.

See more detailed instructions below.

5 Ses #25

Exit/Final Self Evaluation Memo

Write a 1-2 page memo evaluating your progress this semester in 21G.232/3. Consider your first impromptu and compare it to your last. Consider your formal presentation skills - how have you improved? Address insights that you have gained outside of class. Provide feedback on what you feel was most useful.

The two progress memos must provide at least one critical review of a recommended material from the syllabus as well, as any language lab or on-line materials of your choice, TV and radio programs, movies or plays, or the speaking and critical listening skills of friends, colleagues and mentors that you have noticed in social or academic contexts.

Before writing your progress memos, ask yourself questions like the following:

  • “What was my objective for this exercise?”
  • “Did I learn something from this activity?” Were the materials interesting/boring/difficult to use?" Why?
  • “Did I notice a connection between the materials and topics covered in class?” What?
  • “Would I recommend these materials to my colleagues in 21G.232/3?” “If not, why not?”
  • How do I know that my friend/colleague/mentor is listening to what I say?
  • How do I know if my friend/colleague/mentor is having trouble understanding me?
  • Of the seminars, lectures, meetings that I have attended lately, who was the best/worse speaker? Why?
  • Have I seen a particularly well-designed and well-used PowerPoint presentation recently? Where? What made it impressive?
  • Have I attended any meetings recently? Were they well run? What could have improved them? What was my role in them?

Your detailed responses to such questions can form the body of your progress memo.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2007
Learning Resource Types
Activity Assignments
Written Assignments