One component under the Malaysian University English Test (MUET) is managing a small group discussion. Many feel that this is very challenging due to language limitation. This is because the success of a group discussion lies upon one’s ability to communicate effectively in a group whilst ensuring the task is fulfilled and accomplished effectively. This is a task that requires thorough preparation, good team work and most importantly understanding the mechanism of managing a group discussion. The communicative ability includes fluency, pronunciation, stress, intonation and the use of effective language to convey meaning. Many are able to talk but not many have the ability to speak sense especially when in a group. Thus, in group discussion, the fulfillment of the task given is vital. This is achieved when candidates display an understanding of the topic, good and coherent content or ideas and the ability to make decisions based on a group consensus.
What is a Discussion?
It refers to a group of people that come together for a face-to-face interaction to explore orally a certain topic of interest. It aims to work towards achieving a common goal despite the fact that the group members may have differing points of view and opinios. Thus, to achieve this objective, it is vital for each member of the group to possess a good listening skill so that the view of others could be comprehended and digested accordingly.
Who should lead the discussion?
Unlike in schools, MUET private candidates do know the individuals who are going to be in their groups. Due to this, it is vital for each member to promptly break the ice before the test starts. This should be done while waiting for their turn for the test.
It is vital to appoint one person to play the role as the group leader. The group leader serves as a facilitator or moderator of the discussion. If you are a group leader, you should try your best to fulfill the following:
1. Initiate the discussion – introduce yourself and the topic of discussion. Next, get the group members to introduce themselves.
2. Provide opportunities for every member to present their views – ensure that no one monopolizes the discussion and turn taking is practiced.
3. Remain impartial and respect all opinionss – do not use your position to influence the outcome of the discussion.
4. Maintain the discussion – Summarize ongoing views and encourage members to look for common grounds so that a consensus can be reached.
5. Manage time – keep a watch on the time so that a decision can be reached within a given timeframe (10 minutes for the discussion).
6. Conclude the discussion – Summarize the findings and present the decision reached. Please thank everyone for their contribution and cooperation.
The role of Group Members
It is vital for the group members to work as a team. One should:
1. Be well prepared so that you can contribute to the discussion.
2. Be willing to share your ideas so that the final consensus arrived by the group reflects the best decision.
3. Respect turn taking and allow everyone to contribute their views. But do not be passive during the discussion.
4. Respect all opinions and do not belittle the views of others.
5. Think before speaking to ensure that you do contribute constructively to the discussion and not side track the issue being discussed.
6. Listen attentively so that you do not repeat issues already discussed. Engaged listening also enbales you to ask relevant questions to seek further clarification and respond appropriately.
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