Making an Interactive Round-Table Discussion.

Unlike a debate, a round-table discussion is a platform for a broad spectrum of opinion, which can be voiced and heard and thus clarify a situation or help find solutions to a problem. It is a blessing because everyone has a chance to participate in conversation, and, at the same time, it can be a disaster for the very same reason: everyone has a chance to participate in conversation. If you do not want to turn a round table talk into a blah-blah-blah chaos or a yawn-inducing event, please follow these guidelines:

  • Define clear goals: the more precise the topic is, the more  successful your round-table discussion will be.
  • Select a strong moderator: an efficient chair can keep things on track if the discussion comes to a dead end or goes off-topic.
  • Plan your room: define the time you can allow for each attendee to have their say.
  • Set an agenda: establishing the purpose of the discussion will direct all attendees towards their common goal, while setting lead-in questions will frame the topic.

Stage1: Prepare a Lead-In

Study some of the recent cases connected with the topic. Choose the one you would like to use in the lead-in as an introduction into the matter. The lead-in is down to the moderator, but the discussion stage is to be done as a group. Google Docs will come in handy when you need to share your findings with the other team members.

Each student is to contribute a case (find and bring in class an article) to illustrate the topic of the round-table discussion. Discuss your findings in class.

Stage 2: Topic-related vocabulary

While preparing for the round table, you will be reading articles on the subject and watching related videos. Whenever you come across a word or a collocation pertaining to the topic (within the topic of Political Correctness these could be words and phrases like catcalling, blackface, blacklist vs deny list, etc.), write it down in your topic vocabulary list. This is best done at Google Docs, where you group all of your findings in a table, as shown in the example below.

Student 1   

In order to have a clear understanding of when and how these new words  and phrases can be used, please, consult the English language corpora online, following the links below. (A corpus is a compilation of authentic written and spoken language, which enables learners to trace patterns of grammar and vocabulary usage)

Stage 3: Define perspectives for the discussion

At this stage, students do not assume roles yet, they rather speculate on the variety of opinions that could be voiced on the subject and do Internet and other media research.

It is better if the number of perspectives equals the number of attendees, which does not exclude the possibility of some of the speakers having points of convergence.

Report on your progress in class.

Stage 4: Assume roles and prepare for the role-play

Choose a public figure whose views you would like to present and prepare a set of arguments to support your stance. This task requires both analytical and critical skills.

Prepare for your role with the help of the table below and upload the results to Google Docs 

Stage 5: Role-play the round-table discussion in class



Assessment Criteria for a Round-Table Discussion