25+ GCSE English Speaking and Listening Ideas

In GCSE by Think Student Editor1 Comment

One of the most important parts of studying GCSE English Language is that you are tested not only on your written communication but also on your verbal communication. This component of GCSE English Language is surrounding spoken language and exists in the form of a presentation or speech that you have to make.

While this may seem straightforward, there is quite a lot of work that you will have to put into this presentation and a range of factors that you may struggle with. However, the first problem you will have is in deciding what topic you’re going to choose. If you’re struggling to decide, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Continue reading to get some ideas for what you could do for your own GCSE English speech. This article will not only provide you with over 25 great ideas for your GCSE presentation but also give you a few tips on picking your topic.

How to choose your GCSE English Language speaking exam topic

First of all, you need to make sure that the topic you pick will allow you to meet the requirements of your presentation. For this component of your GCSE, you are meant to demonstrate that you can present information and ideas by selecting the right information for your speech and using it effectively and appropriately for the audience you have and the purpose you are using it for.

You are also meant to show that you can speak in Standard English and also that you can respond to any questions or feedback that you are given. If you would like to learn more about this, check out this guide on the government website for more information about the aims and content of GCSE English Language.

These requirements can have quite a big impact on what topic you decide to choose. This is because you will need to make sure that you can do lots of research into your topic area so that you can demonstrate your ability to present information and that the topic is clear enough so that you can show your ability to present ideas.

Other than that, it’s important to remember that your presentation topic is primarily up to you. As long as it is approved by your teacher and otherwise allows you to meet the requirements of your presentation then the choice is yours.

There are many different categories that the topic you choose may fall into. Some of the main ones include social issues, school life or even your personal interests or hobbies. In the rest of the article, you will be able to get some ideas for your presentation centred around these 3 categories.

GCSE English Language speaking exam ideas related to social issues

As previously mentioned, for your GCSE English Language presentation you’re going to be tested on how well you can present ideas and information. One of the best ways to score highly on this is to choose a topic that allows you to present opposing ideas and to reach a conclusion. This is because it would allow you to show that you can evaluate and weigh up the significance of the information you have selected, which in turn shows off your critical thinking skills.

One of the main topics that would allow you to present opposing ideas easily is a topic to do with social issues. This is because they tend to be controversial with people having completely different ideas about how to deal with them.

The only problem with choosing a topic like this is whether you will be comfortable to talk about it in a way that shows that you can present ideas and information appropriately and whether your teacher approves the topic. Due to this, in this section I will take you through some of the ideas to do with social issues that aren’t too controversial and that you can easily talk about in your GCSE English Language speaking exam.

1. Should climate change be taken more seriously by the government?

When thinking about social issues, climate change is arguably one of the best ones to talk about. This is because it pretty much affects everybody and most people have an opinion on it, whether they feel it’s incredibly important or if they feel it’s incredibly not. This makes it something of a safe zone on terms of how controversial the topic is and thus a good topic idea to avoid offending anyone (kind of).

Also, there are so many facts and figures that you can use and manipulate to make your presentation stand out. With these, you can show off your great researching skills, making it one of the best topics you can do as it allows you to do this so easily with statistics and information being readily available.

2. Should zoos be banned?

In recent years, there has been more and more emphasis on exposing animal cruelty and trying to protect animals from being exploited by humans. While this takes many forms, such as animal testing, which can be another great idea for your presentation and will be looked at later. One that you may not quite think of are zoos.

As it is slightly less expected as zoos are generally seen as harmless, this can be a great topic idea. This is because it can feel a lot more original than other topics that may have been done many times before.

Also, as zoos are typically thought of in a neutral or even positive light, exploring both the positives and negatives of them can really show your creativity in presenting ideas. This is because you can use a range of different techniques in your speech to create the most effect while contrasting these opposing ideas and coming to your judgement.

3. Does social media have more drawbacks than benefits?

Social media was only created in 1997, yet since then it has evolved and been transformed into something that we use in our daily lives. For more on this, look at this article by CBS News.

Even if this doesn’t apply to you directly, it most likely will to at least a few of your classmates, which makes it even more of a relevant topic to choose. This could make it more engaging for your audience, which could lead to more question/ feedback at the end of your presentation.

As a result of this, as long as you prepare for these, it could allow to score more highly on the listening and responding requirement of this component. However, it is important to note that this will depend on how your presentation is structured and whether your classmates can freely interact with your presentation.

Another reason why this topic could be great is if you do regularly use social media. This is because, while you will still need to do the research, you will probably have first-hand knowledge about the advantages and drawbacks of using social media.

This background knowledge can make tackling this topic even easier and may even help to improve your presentation in several ways. To begin with, you may choose to use anecdote alongside your research when presenting your ideas and coming to your judgement. Alternatively, you may want to simply use your pre-existing knowledge as a starting point for your research in order to gain examples.

4. Is animal testing ethical?

As previously mentioned, there has been more emphasis on protecting animals from animal cruelty and from being overexploited by humans. In this, many debates and controversies have been sparked, one of the main ones being to do with animal testing.

Once again, this topic can be a great choice as it is current and relevant. You can even make it even more so by applying this debate to things that apply to you and your audience, which are your teacher and classmates. To do this, you may want to look at particularly businesses or even business industries that particularly do use animal testing or that particularly don’t and what this means for your judgement.

Moreover, this topic can be great in allowing you to show that you can effectively present ideas and information as there is so many different arguments within this debate. This means that you will have to be selective in presenting and fully backing up only your strongest points.

5. Should euthanasia be allowed in the UK?

Euthanasia is quite a heavy topic to tackle, particularly for something like your GCSE English Language speaking exam. However, this arguably makes it more thought provoking and makes how you use language even more important in making the presentation good. Therefore, if you’re looking for a bit of a challenge, choosing a heavier topic, such as this one could be a good idea.

Even more than that, this topic is an incredibly controversial subject that often sparks lots of debate. This is especially as it relates to general ethics, people’s personal beliefs and the need for regulation or some kind of laws surrounding it to decide whether or not it should be allowed.

Once again, this could be good for your presentation as being able to tackle a topic such as this one would show off your ability to present ideas, as per the requirements for this component. Other than just being able to present ideas, to be able to do this topic properly, you would be showing off your critical thinking and analytical skills. This would help you to score better within this component.

6. Should the death penalty be brought back?

Once again, this topic is rather heavy and even a bit dark. However, if you feel comfortable tackling it then it could make for a rather interesting speech.

As with other topics within this category, this topic being so controversial is partially what makes it such a good topic. This is because the ideas that you need to present are quite distinctly opposing views. This allows you to show off high-level skills such as evaluation and analysis in order to present these ideas and come to a conclusion.

Also, you can show off your ability to select the appropriate information due to the extent of facts and data that exists on this topic. This is because you can adapt your entire presentation based on what kind of information you use.

For example, if you use historic data of the death penalty being used in the UK, you could consider why it was abolished in the first place and its ineffectiveness, particularly in later years. Otherwise, you could look at information from other countries that still use the death penalty.

Therefore, this topic is also quite versatile, which can also make it a good pick.

7. Should the voting age be lowered?

As of 2023, the voting age is 18 and you now need some kind of photo ID to be able to vote. For more information about this, check out this page on the government website.

This topic could be a great pick, if you’re interested in young people’s involvement in politics and just politics in general. This is because it allows you to look at the political system in the UK and research into an area which may be relevant to you, especially if you’re under the age of 18.

Not only does this topic area easily allow you to fulfil the research requirements of your GCSE English Language spoken language endorsement, but it will also enable you to be a bit more varied in how you can show off your ability to “present ideas”. This is because instead of just giving you opposing views and ideas to present and to give a judgement on, students also need to present ideas on the specifics of this topic.

By this, I mean that due to the slight vagueness of this topic, you can also present your ideas of what age the voting age should or shouldn’t be lowered to and why this is the case. In this way, you’re able to open up this topic to not only be focused on politics. This means that you can also look into the responsibility and maturity of people under the age of 18 in the case of making decisions, such as voting.

Therefore, this topic can be quite in-depth, allowing you to talk more on the topic to better meet the requirements.

8. Is nature or nurture more influential on someone’s personality?

The nature vs nurture debate is an old one that tends to have an answer something along the lines of “it depends”. Despite this, arguing for one side is most certainly doable, especially for your GCSE English Language speech.

If you’re interested in psychology, then this social issues debate is great for you. This is especially as psychology is the main discipline that this debate comes under, although it may also be applied to others.

To meet the requirements of presenting ideas and presenting information appropriately, you will probably need to rely on case studies and psychologists’ research to base your argument on. As these are likely to be quite advanced and very detailed, this topic could allow you to show off your ability to present information as you will need to be selective to make sure that the information in your presentation is relevant.

9. Is AI dangerous?

Science fiction films and books love to tell stories of AI and robots turning against the humans that created them and taking over the world. While that seems unlikely to happen in real life, it does strike the question on the possible dangers of AI.

With this topic being so up to date and relevant, it can be a great idea to choose as it will be more engaging. This is both for you and your audience, allowing you to benefit from more potential feedback or questions, depending on how this part of the speaking exam will work.

Also, the term “dangerous” can be a bit vague. This gives you the opportunity to look at a range of different ideas for what this actually means and then to present your strongest ones. This allows you to meet the requirement of presenting ideas well.

10. Is vaping better or worse than smoking?

Vaping at least used to be an alternative to smoking, one that was seen as better and a way to quit smoking. However, with the rise of vaping, it’s been made clear that vaping isn’t actually good for you.

Due to this, you can compare vaping and smoking in your presentation and explore the ways in which one is worse than the other. This topic idea would give you lots of opportunity to research with there being a lot of information available about smoking and vaping statistics.

Please note that this topic may be a bit more difficult to get approved due to the problems of both smoking and vaping in schools.

11. Are teenagers addicted to their phones?

You’ve probably heard older people say that teenagers are addicted to their phones. By doing this for your presentation you can present an argument for why this may be true as well as one for why it’s not.

This once again gives you an excellent opportunity to show how well you can present ideas. They also give you the opportunity to analyse and evaluate these in order to reach your conclusion. This can allow you to show your critical thinking skills, which would enable you to score higher.

However, the only problem with this topic idea is that you might fall into the trap of being too comfortable with the topic. Remember that while you can use techniques, such as anecdotes to talk about your own experiences, you will still need to actively do some research in order to meet these requirements.

GCSE English Language speaking exam ideas related to school life

Your GCSE English Language speech doesn’t have to be on a heavy, thought-provoking topic to still be good. As previously mentioned, the main idea of the component is to test your speaking and presentation skills as well as your researching skills.

This means that lighter topics, such as things to do with school, can still be great choices. This is especially as you will be more familiar with these topics and so they’re automatically more relevant to you and your peers.

12. Should detention be banned?

Detentions are probably the most common type of punishment that is used in schools in the UK. For more on this, check out this Think Student article, where you can learn more about the different types of punishments used in the UK.

As a student, you will probably be familiar with how they work and may even have experienced detention(s) yourself. Due to this, this topic can be a great idea as it can make it easier for you to present different ideas as you consider your own idea as well as the opposing view.

Like other ideas that you may be more familiar with, it’s still important to remember that you are also being tested on your ability to present the information and so you need to make sure that you do the research. As this is a topic that relates to both you and your classmates, you could do a survey during your presentation asking your audience, your classmates, if they agree or disagree. You could then to use these results in your presentation.

13. Should students have to wear uniform?

Do you agree that clothing is a form of expression and so everyone should be allowed to wear what they want at school? Alternatively, you may be arguing for the use of uniforms in schools.

This topic can be a great idea for your GCSE English Language speaking assessment as there are so many ideas that you can present both for and against the statement, allowing you to show off your ability to do this.

Also, like the other school related topics, this affects both you and your peers directly. Therefore, this means that you can engage with them more easily, which could help you to indirectly lead the feedback section into questions that you feel more prepared to answer.

14. Should teachers stop giving homework?

Homework is often the source of troubles for students as it can be tedious and boring and it’s even worse if you’ve forgotten to do it. However, there are many reasons why homework may actually be a good thing.

If you take on this topic, you will have the interesting task of deciding whether there are more pros of homework or more cons. As this topic is very light hearted, it gives you the opportunity to bring in presentation techniques, such as humour and potentially other ones, such as hyperbole. Due to this, you can make your presentation higher level, which in turn can help you gain more marks.

15. Should the school day be shorter?

Choosing this topic could be a great idea for you. This is because it is relevant for all involved, including, you and your classmates but also your teacher. This could make it more engaging for them to watch and thus easier for you to react to their feedback or questions.

Plus, if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably felt at times that the school day is way too long. Due to this, this topic could be a great idea as you’ll feel more involved with it, making it easier to present clear ideas, as per the requirements.

However, this topic can still be a bit difficult as you still need to justify your argument, whether you’re agreeing or disagreeing. This means that you still need to do the research to back up your points and to consider the other side of the argument.

16. Should everyone have to study English and maths until they’re 18?

In 2023, the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced his plans to have all students study some form of maths until they’re 18. For more on this, look at this page on the government website.

While he’s basing this off his own education, should this be the case for all students? That’s what you get to decide with this topic idea.

Like with all the other topic ideas, you will need to present clear ideas on the pros and cons of this topic. While you will still need to do the research, you can very much tailor your response on your own plans for after GCSEs.

For example, if you’re planning to study some form of maths, whether that is A-Level Maths, Core Maths or something else, you can explain the benefits to you of choosing this option. Whereas, if you’re planning to do an apprenticeship, which would give you the training you need for your role, or any qualification that isn’t related to maths, you could explain why you don’t actually need this.

Remember that you will still need to do research, so you could look into statistics of the number of people who do maths qualifications after GCSEs or even look into the education histories of successful people. This would allow you to better show off your researching and presenting of information skills.

17. Is it important to learn about […]?

This can cover a wide range of subjects or topics, such as history or a specific type of history, such as black history or even wars, to religion or something completely different such as maths or science or even art.

This topic idea can be great as it can relate to you and students around you. However, unlike other options, such as detentions and uniforms, you’re more likely to see disagreement on whether it is or isn’t important to learn something.

This could also be beneficial for the feedback section of your presentation. Therefore, it’s even more important to make sure that your points are clear and well backed up.

Also, this topic idea can provide you with a bit more variety than the other school related ideas. This is because you have complete freedom as to what subtopic you choose and so you can easily tailor it to yourself and your preferences.

Alternatively, you could use this as an opportunity to tailor it to your audience. This would help to show off your ability to be selective in order to present effectively to your audience.

18. Should learning another language be compulsory?

The world is becoming more and more globalised with every passing day, so should learning another language be compulsory. If you already take a language, this topic idea could be great as you should already be familiar with both the pros and cons of language learning and you can apply this to your speech.

As always, research is key in order to meet the requirements for your presentation. However, as language learning can also be done outside of the academic sense, you should be able to find more information about the potential pros of it in general. Then, to consider the drawbacks, you can think about it in the academic context.

You can look at this Think Student article, which goes through the benefits of studying a language, to help you get started.

19. Should Shakespeare be taught in schools?

As part of the GCSE English Literature specification, students have to be taught a Shakespeare play. For more information about this, check out this guide on the government website.

Plus, even before that in Years 7- 9, students will still be taught Shakespeare due to the National Curriculum. You can also learn more about this by clicking on this link to the government website.

Due to this, this topic idea is definitely relevant to all students. Therefore, it can once again be more engaging for both you and your peers to break down this topic. If done right, you can do this to show off your ability to present ideas and information effectively for your audience.

Also, by looking into Shakespeare some of the research may also be easier. This is because in your GCSE English Literature studies, you will probably have needed to look into Shakespeare to get context points for your essays. This means that you can actually do a bit of revision for GCSE English Literature while researching for your presentation.

20. Should phones be banned at school?

Many schools across the UK have banned phones. In this presentation, you would come to a judgement on whether that’s the right decision or not.

With this topic idea, you can talk about the wider context and debates that exist around students, particularly one that are teenagers and phones. For example, you may want to slightly look into the notions of teenagers being addicted to their phones, as mentioned above, or at other issues, such as cyberbullying.

By doing this, you can make your speech more complexed, which in turn can make the ideas you present feel more sophisticated, which can land you higher up the marking criteria.

21. Should extracurricular activities be compulsory?

Doing extracurricular activities can come with a range of benefits, so should they be compulsory? That’s exactly what you will need to explore with this topic.

Once again, you can personalise this topic based on your own experiences. If you already do extracurricular activities, then you can explain the benefits, using anecdote, which is a good skill in presenting. If you don’t do any, then you may present clear ideas for why this is.

Therefore, this topic can be a great idea as implementing a mixture of your research, including data and statistics alongside your personal anecdote can be a great way of doing your presentation. This is because it shows that you can be selective with the information and ideas you have chosen to present.

GCSE English Language speaking exam ideas related to interests

As mentioned above, it’s important to remember that your presentation is yours. One of the best ways to personalise it even more is to make it about something that you’re interested in.

Due to this, making your presentation on any specific interest that you have can be a great idea. These interests may be more general, being topic areas such as art or science. Alternatively, they may be more focused on specific things.

22. Should Banksy be considered a great artist or a criminal?

If you’re interested in art, street art in particular, this topic idea could be perfect for you. This is because you’ll get to look into one of the most well-known street artists in the UK and consider if Banksy should be called an artist at all.

Banksy is often considered a great artist but technically, the art he does is vandalism and so is illegal.

With this topic, you need to be looking at the different sides of the debate, backing them up with facts and coming to your own conclusion. Unlike other topic ideas, the sides of this debate aren’t entirely opposites as Banksy could be considered both a great artist and a criminal.

Due to this, there is greater variation within this topic as you will fully need to decide how to argue this topic. This may also allow you to score better in your assessment. This is due to the fact that if done well, you will be showing off how you can effectively structure your argument to make it more engaging.

23. Are books becoming obsolete?

Less and less people, both young and old, are reading nowadays. Whether this is due to new technologies, such as phones or there simply being a cultural shift, it raises the question of whether books are becoming obsolete.

This topic is great for all the bookworms out there as it gives you a chance to consider your own reading preferences. By this I mean, are you still reading books? If not, what are you reading?

Also, an interesting feature of this topic is that you can define what this question actually means. This is because you need to state whether you are just talking about physical books becoming obsolete or if you’re considering other types as well, such as e-books or audio books.

By doing so, this allows you to demonstrate that you can present ideas clearly as you are giving the ideas and explaining them well.

24. Is […] the best singer/ actor/ etc.?

Whether you’re an absolute Lizzo stan and you want to spend your entire presentation justifying why she’s the best or if you’ve watched every Tom Hanks film and want to use your presentation to argue that he’s the best actor. This topic idea is great if you’re a fan, regardless of who the celebrity is.

This topic idea gives you so much flexibility whether you want to decide who is the best singer, actor, dancer, comedian or even social media influencer. This allows you to personalise it to you and make it more interesting for yourself.

You can even decide on what your criteria is going to be. This can show that you have produced a well thought out presentation as the criteria can act as a structure for you to go through your speech.

25. Was […] the most influential writer/ artists/ etc.?

If you want to talk about a different kind of famous person, such as a writer or artist, you may want to consider how influential they are rather than if they’re the best. This topic idea can prove to be easier for researching than the previous idea as influence can be a bit easier to measure.

For this topic, you could look into any prizes they won, their connections with important people and their positions or roles. If they’re a historical figure, you may also want to look into their legacy and how they’re remembered, for example if there’s a museum.

Like with the previous topic idea, there are so many different people that you could talk about in your presentation with this idea. For artists, you may want to talk about Frida Kahlo, Pablo Picasso, Leonardo Da Vinci or even Andy Warhol. Whereas for writers you may want to talk about Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Charles Dickens or even Khaled Hosseini.

26. Do celebrities get paid too much?

The record amounts that celebrities, especially footballers get can often seem ridiculous. The question that you need to answer in your presentation is whether this is justified and if there should be a limit to how much they make.

This topic can be a great idea as you can use particular celebrities as case studies. This allows you to have a basis for your argument but also to be able to research more easily.

27. Is an influencer a real job?

If you’re interested in social media, you’ve probably come across a few influencers. Influencers are generally seen as not having a real job but is this true?

This topic can be a great idea as you first have to define what a real job actually is. Similarly, to other options, you’ll need to create your own criteria and use this as a basis for your presentation. In this, you can show that you have good presentation skills as you have to be selective to make your ideas and your information fit into this structure.

28. Is gaming good for you?

If you enjoy gaming, you’ve probably been told about how bad it is for you and its dangers. However, with your presentation, you could try to present an upside to gaming. Despite this, you will still need to consider both sides of the argument and also consider the cons.

Once again, being able to show the different sides of the argument can show off your ability to present ideas. Also, as you need to come to a judgment, you will need to evaluate, which is also quite a high level skill.

What attributes make a GCSE English Language speaking exam idea good?

While everyone will have their own opinions on what makes a “good” GCSE English Language speaking exam topic, there are a few key principles that actually make one “good”. First of all, as mentioned above, your GCSE English speaking exam topic needs to allow you to meet the aims and requirements of the assessment itself.

These requirements are as follows:

  • Students need to demonstrate their presentation skills in a formal setting.
  • Students need to listen and respond appropriately to spoken language.
  • Students need to use Standard English effectively in their presentations.

For more information about the assessment objectives of the GCSE English Language speaking assessment, check out this page on the AQA website.

In the above list, all the topic ideas allow you to meet these requirements and so they can be considered as “good”. However, you may have many more ideas for your GCSE English Language speaking presentation, which may still allow you to meet these requirements and so they can be “good” also.

Also, your presentation idea will need to be approved by your teacher. Due to this, the basis of a good idea is one that will get approved by your teacher easily.

Does your GCSE English Language speaking exam idea affect your mark?

First things first, you won’t actually get a mark for your GCSE English spoken language endorsement. This is because you are assessed based on a “competency based” criteria and so you are only sorted into a grade rather than actually being given a mark also. For more information about this, check out this guide by AQA.

While you won’t automatically get a higher grade due to the topic you choose, it could have some impact. This is because the criteria for each grade puts emphasis on the ideas, information and feelings you are presenting.

For a Pass, this would be a straightforward idea, feeling or information. For a Merit, this would be a challenging idea, feeling or information. For a Distinction, this would be a sophisticated idea, feeling or information.

If you choose a more complex and thought-provoking topic, it can make it easier to fit into the Distinction-level criteria of presenting a “sophisticated” idea, feeling or information. Therefore, the topic you choose can have some bearing on the grade you get.

However, it is ultimately down to how you present. This is because if you still present “sophisticated” ideas and information, despite having a very simple topic, you will still be able to reach the Distinction level criteria and vice versa.

Also, there are other criteria for what grade you get other than just to do with how you present the ideas and information. These include how you organise and structure your presentation as well as your ability to listen and to respond.

To learn more about these criteria, please refer to this guide by Pearson Edexcel.

If you would like to find out more about how the English speaking exam effects your overall GCSE English grade check out this Think Student article.

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molly young
molly young
11 months ago

very helpful