Hello, ESPers worldwide!
In this TESOL Blog post, I share a story of how I was able to meet the needs of Japanese adult learners in a business English class. The students asked me to start making my lessons more difficult than the material we were covering in the textbook. In meeting the students’ request, I was able to take advantage of videos on the Internet to weave together a very interesting lesson that expanded on the material in the textbook.
The textbook Business Venture 2 (Oxford University Press) has a lesson that focuses on three entrepreneurs and their business success stories. One of the three entrepreneurs is Levi Roots. His business success story is connected with his Reggae Reggae Sauce.
I began the lesson by asking the students which of the three entrepreneurs shown in the textbook was a real person. (It was a trick question because all three were real people.) Some of the students were familiar with Dyson vacuum cleaners, so they said that James Dyson was a real person. No one thought that Levi Roots and Reggae Reggae sauce were real.
I then showed (to the students) two videos about Levi Roots and his Reggae Reggae Sauce.
- Video 1: The first video is a one-minute commercial for Reggae Reggae Sauce and features Levi Roots singing about the product.
- Video 2: The second video shows Levi Roots seeking funding on a TV program called Dragon’s Den. In the program, Levi Roots seeks funding from wealthy investors to expand sales of his Reggae Reggae Sauce nationally.
Dragon’s Den is the United Kingdom’s equivalent of Shark Tank in the United States. (I wrote an earlier TESOL Blog post about Shark Tank in the classroom titled Teaching Business English and Project Leadership with Shark Tank.) I only showed the first few minutes of the second video so that the students could see Levi Roots sing to the wealthy investors and introduce himself and his Reggae Reggae Sauce.
In the textbook, the students are asked to role-play interviews with Levi Roots and the other two entrepreneurs and to ask and answer questions about the entrepreneurs’ objectives, decisions, and results. After the students had practiced talking about the accomplishments of the three entrepreneurs according to the instructions in the textbook, I asked my students to use a similar framework to talk about their own personal accomplishments. In this connection, I drew upon the CAR framework for interview training. (CAR stands for challenge, action, and result. For more on this technique, see my earlier blog post, Visions of Career Success for the ESP Unemployed.)
The students were instructed to talk about their personal accomplishments as if they were answering a behavioral question in a job interview; e.g., “Tell me about a time that you led a team to achieve a goal.”
The first part of your story should focus on the difficult CHALLENGE you faced. The second part should focus on your own impressive ACTION to overcome the difficult challenge. The third part should include the positive and wonderful RESULT of your action. You can also talk about what you learned from the result and how the story applies to your future.
The students were given five minutes to write down key words and numbers (but not sentences) to help them remember the details to include in their success stories. After that, they were given time to practice (in pairs) telling their success stories.
The approach turned out to be very effective for the following reasons:
- The students could understand more deeply the lesson in the textbook.
- The videos made the lesson more interesting and provided examples of business communication.
- The students could learn an important skill.
- The approach met the students’ request to make the lesson more difficult.
At the end of the class, one student asked, “Is Pete’s Pizza a real company?” To answer this question, I conducted a Google search, and the class watched a video about Pete’s Pizza in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. We could also find the menu and prices. I couldn’t help saying as I watched the video, “Now, that’s a pizza!” Is anyone else hungry?
All the best,