Participating in class discussion assignments

In some papers you will be expected to contribute to class forum discussions.

This is how you contribute to a class discussion:

  1. Read the lecturer's task instructions carefully. Discussions are usually reflections on how the content or theory is relevant for you.
    If you find it difficult to make a direct connection between what you are learning and your context, you might have to think hypothetically. For example:

What I might do in that situation is ...
What I would do if that happened to me is....

  1. Forum discussions are usually open between a range of dates. Be ready to write your contribution a day after the forum opens. Do not wait until the last day.
  2. Do not write long posts. If the lecturer has not specified a word count, then an appropriate length is between 150 to 200 words.
  3. Often you will be expected to reply to the posts of your classmates. When replying, first choose a post that does not already have a reply, (and if they all have replies, choose a person to whom you have not replied before).

Note : In your replies you should:

  1. Thank the person for his or her post.
  2. Identify an idea that you found interesting in that person’s post, and explain why you like that idea.
  3. Pose a reflective question (for the whole class, not just for the person who wrote the original post). (If you can’t think of a question, that’s okay, you can make a relevant comment).

    Here are some reflection prompts:
    • Does anyone in this discussion consider that ...?
    • Can I ask if anyone else has ... ?
    • What do you all think might happen if ...?

Remember : Always be courteous and respectful in a forum discussion.

How to disagree respectfully

Sometimes you might need to disagree with a classmate. You should always be as polite as possible. Always have a reason for disagreeing. Here are examples of polite sentence starters that you can use.

X = your classmate's idea.
x = more information about what your classmate said
Y = your point
... = you continue with your own words 
[square | brackets] = different vocabulary options

How to pick up on a point:

  • I was intrigued by your comments about X, especially your [description | explanation | observations] about x... In my experience Y...
  • Your comments about X made me think Y because ...
  • I was wondering if you had yet considered Y when you said X. The reason I say this is ...
  • With regard to X, would you mind if I make the following comment? Y...

Pretend to be unsure about agreeing:

Wil (2018) explains how English speakers are polite by pretending to be unsure about agreeing.

  • I'm not sure I can agree [with] X... . My [focus | preference/s | leaning/s] [is/are | has been] in the direction of Y
  • I don't think our [opinions | perspectives | viewpoints] are quite [aligned | in sync | together] because Y.
  • I'm not in step with [this|your] position yet. Instead, my thoughts are Y.

Acknowledge and then disagree

Preface your words with an acknowledgement.

  • I can see why you might think X, but for me Y.
  • Your [idea | comment | thinking] is understandable in many respects, but from my perspective Y.
  • I appreciate your thoughts about X, but I would like to add Y.


Wil. (2018) Five useful ways to disagree politely in English. EF English Live.

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