The Language of Literature
 Speaking and Listening

Page 44—Speaking and Listening

You are a talk show host who is interviewing Julia Alvarez. To prepare, gather background information on her life and work. You might also want to look for interviews Alvarez has granted others. Start by visiting the sites below.

Julia Alvarez The Politics of Fiction: An Interview with Julia Alvarez
Julia Alvarez shares her thoughts about writing in this interview from the online magazine Frontera.

A brief account of my writing life by Julia Alvarez
Alvarez shares the major moments of her career

Voices from the Gaps: Julia Alvarez
Find biographical information, links to related sites, and brief literary critiques on this site.

Once you've done some background research, prepare a list of questions. These questions serve as conversation starters. Don't be overly concerned with going through each question in order. Instead, listen carefully to Alvarez's responses and ask follow-up questions where appropriate. Here are some tips:

  • Think of more questions than you think you'll need. It's always better to have too many than not enough.
  • Include both yes/no and open-ended questions. Arrange your questions from most important to least important. That way, you won't miss any vital information if you don't get to all your questions.
  • Listen actively. Be prepared to follow up on a response you find interesting. Remember to let the person you are interviewing do most of the talking.

Page 63—Persuasive Speech

To encourage others to adopt your ideas or to act on your suggestions, you need to be persuasive. In other words, you need to convince your audience that you are credible and your ideas are valuable.

Before you give a persuasive speech, look over your notes and ask yourself

Have I . . .

  • clearly stated the topic and my position on it in the introduction?
  • taken my audience's knowledge and needs into account?
  • supported my opinion with facts and other evidence?
  • answered possible objections?
  • used logical reasoning?
  • summed up my reasons and called for action in the conclusion?

To learn more about persuasive speaking, check out these Web sites.

Persuasive Speaking in High Pressure Contexts
Work your way through this interactive tutorial on public speaking.

Fundamentals of Speech
This informative site guides you through four types of persuasive speeches, and offers tips to help you convince your audience to adopt your beliefs or act on your suggestions.

This slide show takes you from planning a speech to presenting it effectively.

Page 107—Interview

Before you interview someone in your community about homelessness, find out more about the problem by browsing through these Web sites.

National Alliance to End Homelessness
Visit this site and browse through publications, research statistics and legislation, and learn more about what you can do to end homelessness. You can also practice your interview questions by participating in an online discussion.

National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE)
The NCHE is an organization that works to ensure that homeless children and teens have access to educational opportunities. The site features links to related organizations and a listing of state-specific resources.

Stand Up for Kids
Stand Up for Kids is a not- for-profit group that helps homeless youth get off the streets. The organization currently has 19 programs in nine states.

When you conduct your interview, practice active listening strategies:
  • Pay attention to the interviewee's voice. Notice changes in pace and tone. Such changes often provide insight to how the speaker really feels.
  • Visualize while listening. Form pictures in your mind of the people and scenes the speaker describes.
  • Listen for the main message. Try to seize the recurring theme of the speaker's talk. What does he or she want you to take with you?

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