Oral poetry refers to the verbal expression of feelings, ideas and thoughts using words arranged in their best possible order.  If sung, it is a song.

Features of Oral Poetry

Oral poetry has the following features:

  1. It is composed and delivered by word of mouth.
  2. Linguistic aspects such as tone and pitch are crucial in oral poetry in varying the meaning and the mood .
  3. There is often solo and chorus pattern especially in sung poetry.
  4. Accompanied with movement and dance.
  5. The performer dresses in costumes in some sung poetry.
  6. Musical instruments such as drums, horn can accompany the performance of poetry.
  7. Rhythm or beat. It is a regular repeated pattern of sounds. It can be slow, fast, moderate, monotonous, or disjointed.
  8. This refers to whether the song/poetry should be loud or soft. A lullaby should be sung softly while war song should be sung loudly as it engenders courage and aggression.


Features of Proverbs

Proverbs have  features such as:

  1. They are brief.
  2. They contain wisdom.

Proverbs also have stylistic qualities.

Stylistic Qualities of Proverbs

Proverbs possess unique stylitic qualities like:

  • Mnemonic features such as alliteration, assonance and consonance.
  • Personification
  • Hyperbole
  • Ellipiss
  • Paradox
  • Parallelisim

Let’s learn these from the example of proverbs :

  • Alliteration, example

Forgive and forget

  • Consonance, example, Practice makes perfect.
  • Assonance, for example,

Upendapo, uendapo.

Where you like it, is where you must go.

  • Parallelism

This is a balance between two similar words, phrases, or clauses.


  1. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
  2. Easy come, easy go.
  • Ellipsis

Some words are omitted.

Unneeded words are left out in order for us to fill what is missing.


  1. Once bitten, twice shy. ii. Penny wise, pound foolish.


  • Hyperbole

An idea is exaggerated in order to evoke strong feelings, or to create a strong impression. Example

The half is more than the whole.

  • Paradox

It is an apparently true statement that leads to, or intentionally expresses a contradiction or situation, which defies intuition.


  1. The longest way is the shortest way home.
  2. Absence make the heart grow fonder.
  • Personification , examples,
    1. Hunger is the best cook. ii. Love is blind.




Being a cyclical process, turn taking starts with one person speaking, and continues as the speaker gives control to the next individual. This is then offered to another person and then back to the original speaker. Orderly conversation has to take place.

A turn is a crucial element within turn taking. Each person takes turn within the conversation – either in person or on phone.

Achieving Smooth Turn Taking

It is achieved with:

  1. Using specific polite phrases, for example, those for,


Accepting the turn when offered it

Keeping your turn

Getting other people speaking, etc.

  1. Using gestures to indicate you have completed what you are saying or that you want to say something. You drop your arm when you have completed and raise it when you want to say something.
  2. Varying the intonation to show you have or have not finished speaking.
  3. Use noises like ‘uming’ and ‘ahing’ while thinking so as not to lose your turn.

Turn Taking Cues

There are various ways of signaling a finished turn. They might be indicated when the current speaker:

  1. Asks a question, for example, ‘ Did you want to add anything?’
  2. Trails off (his/her voice becomes weaker to the extent you may not hear his words)
  3. Indicates they are done speaking with a closing statement, for example, ‘That’s all I wanted to say.’or ’I think I have made my point.
  4. Uses marker words (those that allow the other a chance to speak), for example, ‘well…’ or ‘so…’
  5. Drops the pitch or volume of their voice at the end of their utterance. This is the use of falling intonation.
  6. Uses gestures to signal that another can contribute.


Violations in Turn-Taking

There are five well known turn-taking violations in a conversation. They are: interruptions, overlaps, grabbing the floor, hogging the floor, and silence. Do you know what they really are? If you don’t, read the explanations for the violations in that order.

  1. Inhibiting the speaker from finishing their sentences during their turn.
  2. Talking at the same time as the current speaker. This is interruptive overlap. However, cooperative overlap is encouraged as it shows you are interested in the message.
  3. Interrupting and then taking over the turn before being offered it.
  4. Taking over the floor and ignoring other people’s attempt to take the floor.
  5. Remaining without saying anything for quite some time.

The List of Turn-Taking Phrase

To interrupt;

Before I forget, …

I don’t like to interrupt, but ….  I wouldn’t usually interrupt, but …  I’m afraid I have to stop you there.

I will let you finish in a minute/second/moment ….  May I interrupt?

To accept the turn when offered it;

Thanks. I won’t take long.

What I wanted to say was …

To stop other people from interrupting you during your turn use;

I have just one more point to make

I have nearly finished

Before you have your say …

I haven’t quite finished my point yet  I know you’re dying to jump in, but….

To offer the turn to another use;

…., right?

But that’s enough from me.

Can you give me your thoughts on …?

Does anyone want to say anything before I move on?  How about you?

To take the turn back after being interrupted;

As I was saying (before I was interrupted)

To get back on topic…

Carrying on from where we left on…

Note: The list is endless, and you can come up with other appropriate phrases.



English is a polite language. For this reason, it is advisable to indirectly contradict a person. It is rude to do it directly.

Although conversation is a two way street, interrupting a speaker is usually regarded as rude. However, at times you need to interrupt. When then can one interrupt?

You can only interrupt to: (a) Ask a question;

(b) Make a correction; (c) Offer an opinion; and (d) Ask for clarification.

In this section, we shall learn how to interrupt and disagree politely.

Steps to Interrupting

It is important to take note of the following steps when interrupting a speaker during a conversation or during a discussion:

  1. Signal to the speaker that you have something to contribute by implementing the body language such as:
  • Making eye contact;
  • Slightly raising your hand;
  • Sitting forward on your seat; (d) Quietly clearing your throat; or (e) Coughing quietly.
  1. Wait patiently until the speaker pauses or incase of a lull in the conversation.
  2. Speak clearly using polite phrases. These phrases will be learnt later.
  3. Wait for the speaker to acknowledge your request to speak before you do so.
  4. After you have spoken, thank the speaker and allow them continue.
  5. Take a deep breath and calm yourself before interrupting when you feel angry or annoyed.
  6. Take care to use low tone of voice.


  1. Unnecessary interruptions.
  2. Finishing speaker’s sentences.
  3. Interrupting to correct the speaker unnecessarily.
  4. Speaking harshly or using disparaging comments.


Phrases used in Interruption

Below is the list of phrases which you can use to politely interrupt someone:

May I say something here?

I am sorry to interrupt, but …

Excuse me, may I add to that…?

Do you mind if I jump in here?

Before we move on to the next point, may I add …?

Sorry, I didn’t catch that, is it possible to repeat the last point?

I don’t mean to intrude ….

Sorry to butt in, but …

Would this be a good time to ….?

Excuse the interruption, but …

I hate to interrupt, but …

I know it is rude to interrupt, but …

How to Disagree Politely

The tips that follow will help you handle disagreements without annoying the other person in a discussion or discussion:

  1. Actively listen to the other person’s point of view. This helps in showing respect and understanding of the other person’s perspective.
  2. Stay calm even if you feel angry.
  3. Acknowledge the other person’s point of view before the buts.
  4. Disagree only with the person’s idea but not he person.
  5. Use polite phrases to respectfully disagree.
  6. Speak in a low tone.
  7. Give some credence to the other person’s point of view before challenging it. For example, say: It’s partly true that I bought this phone at a cheap price, but …

Disagreeing Politely Expressions

  • I agree up to a point, but …
  • I see your point, but …
  • That’s partly true, but … I’m not so sure about that.
  • That’s not entirely true
  • I am sorry to disagree with you, but …
  • I’m afraid I have to disagree
  • I must take issue with you on that
  • It’s unjustifiable to say that..



This is the process of discussion between towo or more disputants, aimed at finding the solution to a common problem.

It is a method by which people settle their differences.

It is also the process by which a compromise or agreement is reached while avoiding arguiment.

There could be a difference between people with different aims or intentions, especially in business or politics. When this happens, they have to reach an agreement.

Negotiation skills will be helpful when:

  • Haggling over the price of something;
  • Negotiating with your employer e.g. for higher salary; Negotiating for peace/ solving conflict;
  • Negotiating for better services; etc.

Stages Of Negotiation

  1. Preparation comes first. During this time, ensure all the pertinent facts of the situation is known in order to clarify your own position. It will help in avoiding wasting time unnecessarily.
  2. Discussion then follows. This is the time to ask questions, listen and make things easier to understand. At times, it is helpful to take notes to record all points put forward.
  3. Negotiate towards a win-win outcome. Each party has to be satisfied at the end of the process.
  4. Agreement comes after understanding both sides’ viewpoints and considering them.
  5. Implement the course of action. If for example, paying the amount, it has to be paid.

Points Every Negotiator Should Consider

  1. Ask questions, confirm and summarise. These three activities ensure that there is no confusion on what each party wants.
  2. Acknowledge each other’s point of view. Show that you have listened to and understood their perspective. Show appreciation of the other person’s point of view.
  3. Listen attentively to the other person.
  4. Respond to negative comments and complaints. Avoid confrontational language.
  5. Behave in a confident way, but don’t be rude. Make polite but firm requests.
  6. Give options/alternatives. You can both win if you recognise that you share a common ground.



You are planning to buy a new model car.

  • Write down three relevant facts you would want to know before going to buy the car.
  • State any three hints for the negotiators you would consider when haggling over the price of that car.


Listening is different from hearing. When you listen, you understand both the verbal and non verbal information.

Why should you listen? You listen:

To obtain information

To understand the message

For enjoyment  To learn

In this section, we shall learn the techniques of active listening.

Techniques of Paying Attention

In order to benefit from a talk as the listener, you should take note of the following key tips:

  1. keep an open mind. Listen without judging the speaker or mentally criticizing their message they pass. You just have to hold your criticism and withhold judgment.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the topic under discussion. Audience tend to listen more if they have idea of the topic being discussed. How then can one familiarize himself/ herself with the subject?

They can do this by:

  • Reading from the books.
  • Reading from the internet.
  • Asking for ideas from those who know.
  1. Use the speaker responses to encourage the speaker to continue speaking. You will also get the information you need if you do so. Some of the speaker responses we use include: (a) Slightly nodding the head, but occasionally.
  • Smile occasionally.
  • Using small verbal comments like yes, uh huh, mmmh, I see, etc.
  • Reflecting back e.g. you said …
  1. Take notes on the important points. This can in itself be a distractor. You should therefore know when to and when not to take notes.
  2. Listen for the main ideas. These are the most important points the speaker wants to get across and are repeated several times.
  3. Wait for the speaker to pause before asking a clarifying question. Just hold back.
  4. Avoid distractions. Don’t let your mind wander or be distracted by other people’s activities. If the room is too cold or too hot get the solution to that situation if possible.
  5. Sit properly. Sit upright
  6. Make eye contact with the speaker. when you do this you will be able to understand the non verbal messages too.


Signs of Inactive Audience

You can easily tell whether  your audience listens or not. The inattentive listeners tend to posses the following characteristics:

  • Fidgeting
  • Doodling
  • Playing with their hair
  • Looking at a clock or watch
  • Picking their fingernails
  • Passing small pieces of paper to one another
  • Shifting from seat to seat
  • Yawning

Barriers to Effective Listening

There are many things that get in the way of listening and you should avoid these bad habits so as to become a more effective listener. These factors that inhibit active listening include;

  1. Lack of interest in the topic being discussed.
  2. Unfamiliarity with the topic under discussion.
  3. One might fear being asked a question and in the process fail to look at the speaker.
  4. In case of noise the listeners might not get what the speaker is saying.

Exercise 1

MwangiMwaniki, the author of one of the set text you study, is coming to your school to give a talk on the themes in his novel.

  • How would you prepare for this big day?
  • State what you would do to ensure you benefit from the talk during the presentation.



From the heading, an oral report is spoken, not written.

Being oral, it doesn’t mean writing is not involved. As part of preparation, you have to write notes on the topic or at least an outline of points.

When asked to present an oral report you get the opportunity to practice your speaking skills.  A spoken report has various elements including an introduction, body and conclusion.


Preparation for Oral Reports

You can prepare by:

  1. Researching on the topic. Get all the facts about what is known and unknown by your audience.
  2. Take notes on the facts about the topic. Choose your words appropriately in the process. 3. Practice the report before presenting it. You may
  • Practice in front of a mirror.
  • Practice in front of friends or relatives.
  • Videotape your rehearsals.

More practice is required if it has to be memorized.

  1. Plan on how to dress and groom.
  2. Prepare the visual aids if you plan to use the them. Select the appropriate chart, picture, etc. that will make abstract ideas concrete.


  1. Stand up straight. Your upper body should be held straight, but not stiff. Do not fidget.
  2. Make eye contact in order to look surer of yourself and to ensure your audience listens better.
  3. Vary your tone appropriately and speak clearly.
  4. Use gestures to make your points well understood and to keep the audience interested.
  5. Pause at key points to let the point sick.
  6. Speak loud enough for everyone to hear you.
  7. If you have visual aids use them appropriately.


You have seen thieves robbing your neighbor’s house. During this time you have your phone that you have used to capture one of the two robbers. The next day you are called at the police station to report on what occurred.

  • State any three ways you would prepare to deliver this oral report.
  • What three details would you include in your report?
  • How would you deliver the report to ensure the information is understood?




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