The impact of BREXIT on ELT

24 Jun

Like many people in the world of ELT I was shocked and disappointed by the results of the EU referendum this morning.  Like many people in our position, my wife and I have been sitting on the sofa in our house in central Portugal,  in a state of bleak disbelief struggling to understand both how the British people could have made this choice and of course, what the ramifications are for us.

We are asking ourselves questions like:  Should we stay here?  If we want to stay here, how do we go about it?  Should we go somewhere else?  Should we return to the UK?  Do we even want to return to the UK?  How on earth are we going to make that happen if we do?

There is a lot of anxiety in our thinking, a lot of uncertainty and a lot of speculation, none of which adds up to anything substantive and none of which is particularly helpful to us, or anyone else in a similar situation.  My hope in this post is to try and look at what the decision means for ELT and thereby to help myself, and all those teachers around Europe in similar situations, figure out what this really means for us.

Europe-map-without-UK-012

ELT in the UK

Some 26,500 jobs in the UK are directly linked to ELT (English UK, 2015), though some of these are indirect and supported by student spending in the UK, rather than say, teaching jobs or centre administration staff.  650,000 students come to the UK to study annually, the majority from Italy and Spain with 53% of students coming from European countries.  It seems likely that these figures are going to drop, partly because of the economic uncertainty and recessionary conditions, but also partly because if there is no automatic right to travel and study in the UK, EU citizens will need to pay out £328 on a Tier 4 student visa just to come to the country.  This is obviously speculation and it may not be impacted, this depends on the conditions that the EU requires as part of any renegotiated trade deals.  However, given the focus on migration to the UK in the referendum debate, stricter control over borders and visa issuing seems likely.

The 2011 Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) report analysed the impact of changes in immigration controls on Tier 4 visas and suggested it would lead to a 10% reduction in the number of tier 4 visas granted and a consequent loss of £203 million per year (rising to £268 million by 2025).  Extrapolating these trends to take into account the additional drop in visas issued to EU students, this suggests the UK ELT industry could lose around £493 million a year.

This is likely to have a significant effect on the number of centres offering language teaching, the incomes and revenues that centres are likely to realise, of subsequently of course, on the number of jobs, with the possible loss of 2,500 jobs in the sector.  This in turn is likely to drive wages down because of the lower demand (and a need for employers to reduce costs) and because of the increased supply of teachers looking for work.

 

ELT in Europe

94% of secondary students in EU countries study English (Eurostat, 2016).  This is unlikely to change any time soon, mostly I suspect because of inertia.  Schools and education systems have invested so much time and energy in creating the materials and training the teachers that it may take some time before other languages gain in primacy.  This is the state sector though, and the private sector may be different.

It is difficult to see though, the levels of demand for English language training sustaining themselves in the private sector when much of the motivation to learn the language is gone.  With no freedom of movement into the UK to live and work, students like many of mine who are learning a language because they want to work overseas, may choose other destinations and languages.  This is speculation though, and English is still the language of business and international communication, so the impact may be mitigated.

There is likely to be a much larger impact on recruitment on teachers.  Companies and organisations operating within the EU must, first and foremost, hire workers with the right to work within the EU.  In other words, EU citizens.  If an employer wants to hire a non-EU worker, they first have to prove that they cannot find anyone in Europe who can fulfil the vacancy.  The implications of this are simply that a large number of UK nationals who are currently teaching in Europe are likely to find themselves legally unable to continue in their roles.  Brexit may, inadvertently, have effectively settled the NS / NNS debate (at least in Europe).

If you are a UK national between 17 and 30, you might be able to qualify for a Temporary Worker / Working holiday visa and then teach on short term contracts here and there.  For everybody else there are the traditional routes to consider:  marrying into the EU or for those who have been there long enough, applying for citizenship.

What happens next?

Who knows…

It’s probably still too early for the full ramifications of the decision to be apparent.  David Cameron has said he’s resigning and that it will be the job of the next Prime Minister to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, thus triggering the two year period of UK exit.  Boris Johnson has said there is “no rush” to leave.  EU leaders have called for the UK to get on with it and avoid “unnecessarily prolonging uncertainty”.  It is quite a strange situation – everything has changed and yet nothing has.

Where does this leave me?

Speaking personally?  It leaves me depressed, angry and morose.  My options are (1) to apply for Portuguese citizenship and to try and continue life here in Portugal, (2) to try and sell the house and uproot the family and move back to the UK to compete for an increasingly smaller pool of jobs at increasingly lower wages.  Unless anyone can think of another option…?  Does anyone know if Canada is hiring?

References:

Economic Impact of ELT in the UK – English UK, 2015.

Estimating the Value to the UK of Education Exports – Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, 2011.

Foreign language learning statistics – Eurostat, 2016.

Tier 4 (General) student visawww.gov.uk, 2016.

 

A Video Lesson Template

6 Jun

This is a lesson template that works with any age, level or video clip – as long as the clip doesn’t have any dialogue.  Short animated videos or clips are best, and there are plenty out there.  My personal favourites, especially for young learners, are Shaun the Sheep or Tom & Jerry as these not only have a musical soundtrack that reflects the action going on, but also a large range of sound effects to give clues to the action.

 

(1) Learners listen to the audio of the clip (or if it is a long clip, maybe the first minute or two) without seeing the visuals.  In pairs, they then predict what they think is happening.  Nominate some of the learners to describe their predictions.

(2) Learners watch the clip.  Do feedback on their predictions.

(3) Divide the class into two groups.  Group A has to write down all of the characters and objects they can remember.  Group B has to write down all of the actions they can remember.  Monitor and provide input and assistance as necessary.

(4) Watch the clip again so the groups can check their lists for accuracy and add any additional items they need to.

(5) Pair the learners with one from group A and one from group B and ask them to write a synopsis of the clip.  At this stage, I also highlight a number of tenses I expect the learners to use (for example narrative tenses).  Or if I am doing this as part of a revision & review lesson, some of the recent language points that we have worked on, and I ask the learners to make sure that at least one example of each is included in their summary.  Monitor and provide input and assistance as necessary.

(6) Feedback and error correction.

(7) An optional extension is for the learners to write some dialogue for part or all of the clip and to perform it with the clip running in the background.  Though this can get a bit unwieldy if you have a large class!

Addendum:

Kieran Donaghy, the man behind Film English, has just posted “The Seven Best Short Films for ELT Students“.  I’ve seen two of them that I think would work with this template – The Present and Soar – I haven’t seen all the others, so I couldn’t say.  But if you’d like to use something a bit more meaningful and thoughtful than Tom & Jerry, then these will almost certainly be worth a look.

 

Reviewing the School Year: A Lesson

30 May

The last lesson of the school year is often a tricky one to manage.  Often, neither you or the students are in a particularly useful frame of mind – the energy and creativity is dwindling and it can be difficult to persuade students of the value of learning things for the sake of learning things: “But, teacher, we did the test already.”

This year I have made an End of year Review booklet for my young learner groups.  The idea is for the students to look back at what they have done and to think about what they did well, what they could have done better and to identify a few goals for moving forwards.  I have printed it as an A5 booklet and the hope is that they can take this home with them to share with their parents as a reflection on the progress they have made and the progress they could have made – along with some concrete goals for things to do in the summer months away from the pressures of the classroom!

Grammar Graph

The Grammar Graph is not really intended to measure knowledge or attainment in the language feature, what it really does is measure the confidence the learner has in their ability to use the target item.  The features listed are all those that have come up in the past year and I hope that it will reflect the extent the learners feel they can use the feature appropriately and accurately.  There may be students that have better control, but less confidence or there may be students that are very confident and fluent speakers but who have less control.  These conversations will hopefully help learners to see where some of their strengths really lie.

Word Championships

The Word Championships are partly a vocabulary review and partly there as a mingle activity to get students up, moving around and talking to each other.  The learners choose two or three words from the year that are their favourites – or possibly from their own knowledge.  They then mingle and find out what the other students think and record the answers.  After about five minutes (they don’t need to ask everyone for everything), the students work in small groups to share and compare the answers they got and to work out which words are the top three favourite words for the year.

 

Difficult mountainEasy mountain

The difficult and easy mountain is a simple enough reflection on course content – with any luck it should tie in to the grammar graph activity at the beginning – but with a bit more focus on where the focus needs to come in the future.  I opened this up as a kind of pyramid discussion to the class to try and decide what the most difficult thing and what the easiest thing we did in class this year was.  This not only gives some interesting feedback on the content the learners find difficult, but on which of my teaching techniques have proved more accessible.

Lesson Pie Chart

The lesson Pie Chart is intended as a reflection on behaviour in the classroom.  It is really up to the learners to decide what constitutes “being good” and extending this discussion out to the classroom can lead to some interesting revelations.  The intent is also not to demonise L1 (in this case Portuguese) use, but more to point out how much class time they spend using Portuguese as opposed to English.  If I was to do this differently next time (and I will!) I would separate these out into three or four smaller pie charts as while this gives an interesting insight into what happens in a lesson, it isn’t quite so useful for differentiating behaviours, which was partly the aim.

English Learning Goals

Most of my learners are in the 10-13 year old elementary range, and therefore encouraging them to do self-study work over the summer is an uphill task.  The purpose of this activity is to get the learners to arrive at ways in which they can keep their English up over the summer and not forget it all, and still have a degree of fun!  I am less interested here in getting them to do grammar practice or vocabulary learning, than I am in getting them to interact with the language in some way.  One of the goals might be to read a book in English (we have graded readers in the school for them to borrow) or to learn a favourite song in English – to watch a TV show or film in English and write a synopsis or review.  It will be up to them to decide.

 

Superlatives Yearbook 01 Superlatives Yearbook 02

The Superlatives Yearbook is a bit of fun really – it serves partly to review some of the language from the course – but it is really a bit of a break from the personal development review and a chance to engage in a heated discussion.  You may have come across similar “end of year award” lessons – this is a slightly shorter version.  In this version, the students are put into three large groups and have to decide who should be given each award.  No-one in the class can be given more than one award and everybody in the class has to be given an award.  An extension of this is to re-group the students into groups of three, one student from each of the larger groups, and to ask them to present their choices and agree on a final decision.  The learners can then report back to their original groups on what was decided.

The last page in the booklet is a list of useful links that the students can access over the summer:

These are what I came up with, but I would welcome any extension of this so please feel free to add any ideas in the comments!

I hope this proves useful, if you try any of this and want to give any feedback, I’d welcome it – or if you’ve tried similar ideas in different areas, I’d also like to find out what you did and how it went.

 

Say what you see – vocabulary and images

23 May

This is an activity that I used as a warmer with my classes last week with great results!  It works really well for vocabulary review, with lower levels, but also with extending and developing the range of vocabulary that exam classes use when they are confronted by images.

  1. Select an image to use.  It could be topic related to reflect a particular lexical set (e.g. one of Carl Warner’s foodscapes to review food vocabulary with a lower level group) or more general.
  2. Students work in groups of three.  Each student has three lives.  Students have to say something they can see in the picture.  If they can’t, they lose a life.  The winner is the last person to still have a life left.  There should be no repetition of items and students can challenge if they think someone is making it up!
  3. Show students the image and off they go!
From @eltpics on Flickr

From @eltpics on Flickr

Variations:

With my exam classes I introduced a couple of variations – I selected pictures that were linked by theme, such as might appear in a First or Advanced speaking exam, and they weren’t allowed to use single words.  They had to use collocations or at least add a layer of additional description or comment to the item.  So they couldn’t say “a car” but they had to say something like “an ugly green car” or “a vintage BMW”.  They found this quite challenging, but reacted well to it and I found that when they then went on to do a comparison and evaluation task (like the speaking part two), they were able to not only do it more effectively, but also to demonstrate a stronger range of lexis.

With my young learners I found that weaker students, perhaps not surprisingly, were out of the game quite quickly, so as an alternative I gave the groups two minutes to write down as many items as they could and then did a board race to get the language up onto the board – with the proviso that there be no repetition across groups (so if group A writes “balloons” up, none of the other groups can).  This made it more collaborative initially, still keeping the competition element, and added another layer of peer teaching.

 

Is it worse when bad students do well or when good students do badly?

5 Apr

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This is a question that occurred to me in a frenzy of test marking that took place last month…  I’m interested to know what people think!

I’d appreciate your answer before you read on….

Having gone through fifty odd tests and looked at the scores, there were quite a few surprises in there.  Students who are attentive and hard working in the classroom who scored very poorly and of course the opposite – students who do the bare minimum and who mess around and who lack focus and who confound expectations by doing well.

So what does that tell us?

Mostly it tells me that labelling students as “good” or “bad” is not a particularly helpful activity and in fact I know this already and have written about it before in “The Myth of the Good Student“.

It also tells me that behaviour does not equal learning and just because something looks like learning, doesn’t mean it is learning.  I remember a student who, at a previous parent teacher conference had been exhorted to try harder, started sitting up and writing stuff down more during lessons and doing the coursebook exercises promptly and with reasonable efficiency.  Upon slightly closer monitoring however, it turned out that he was literally just moving his pencil over the page in random squiggly lines and then putting it down and saying “finished” when there were enough other students doing the same to hide in amongst.  I’m not sure what he thought it would achieve, but it is probably a tactic that works in other contexts, where there are thirty odd students in the class and the teacher doesn’t get beyond the first row very often.

There is a part of me though that believes effort, when it is made, should be rewarded.  When I see the “good students” who proactively write things down and try to do the activities and exercises properly and who try to practice the language, and who give every appearance of being bright, keen and engaged – when I see them fail or score poorly it gets to me.  I want them to feel like the time and hard work they put in was FOR something.

The flip side of that of course, is that it ever so slightly annoys me when the students who don’t do any of the work and who muck about in the lessons just breeze through the tests without any apparent effort at all.  There are of course any number of reasons why they might behave the way they do, one of which might well be that they know it all and don’t need to make the effort because it is familiar ground to them.  Or they could be swans.  Effortlessly gliding on the surface whilst underneath they are paddling furiously – they might go home to parents who sit with them for an hour a day doing homework or extra reading….  You just don’t know.

So my answer to the question is that it’s probably worse when the good students do badly, but there is a third option which I didn’t put into the poll:  when bad students do badly.  I think this is probably worst of all, just because if the intention and motivation isn’t there, it’s very difficult to get them back on track again.  But let me know what you think…..

child staring school window

IH Journal: Examinator Column

30 Mar

It is with very great pride that I’d like to share my new column in the IH Journal!

I love teaching exam classes.  I find them to be among the more motivated and interested students and while this isn’t always the case with every student, very often having that fixed goal of the exam helps the students to think about what they can do, what they can’t do and what they need to know to get where they want to go.  So the fact that I now get to write about teaching exam classes is just the cherry on top of the cake!

David-screenshot-212x300

In this first column, I look at teaching writing to exam classes, which I find is often an area of weakness as students don’t always get asked to work with the text types or text structures that an exam demands, until they get to the exam itself.  It’s not that writing is neglected necessarily at lower levels, but that exam writing asks for a different approach to writing than is often presented in more general English course books.

So in this article, apart from introducing the column, you’ll find three key ideas to help your learners with their exam writing.  Find out more here:

Examinator Column:  Helping Learners with Exam Writing

And while you’re there, why not take a look at some of the other great articles on offer?  This issue sees a bit of a revamp of the IH Journal format, under the new editorship of Chris Ozóg, and includes new columns on teacher training and development, academic management, as well as familiar favourites on technology and Young learner teaching.  This particular issue also has a special focus on materials writing, how to get into it, how to do it and what it’s really like.

If you have any comments on my piece, but can’t submit them via the IH Journal site, feel free to comment here.  Particularly if there’s an exam related topic you’d like me to address in future issues.

Enjoy!

5 Highly Effective Teaching Practices

21 Mar

Earlier this year, a piece from the Edutopia website was doing the rounds under the title “5 highly effective teaching practices”.  I automatically question pieces like this as I doubt somewhat whether the purpose of the piece is actually to raise standards in the profession and develop teachers – or whether it is simply to get a bit more traffic to the website.  But perhaps I am being unnecessarily cynical?

To be fair, the practices the article suggests are generally quite effective:

  1. State the goals of the lesson and model tasks, so that students know what they are going to do and how to do it.
  2. Allow classroom discussion to encourage peer teaching
  3. Provide a variety of feedback, both on an individual and a group basis.  Allow students to feedback to the teacher.
  4. Use formative assessments (tests the students can learn from) as well as summative assessments (tests that evaluate student ability, mostly for reporting purposes)
  5. Develop student metacognitive strategies so that students can become more aware of their own learning and how to make it more effective.  (Learner Training)

What surprises me though is that these practices are considered novel enough that they need to be put into a blog post?  CELTA tutors may correct me (please do!) but aren’t these things considered essential on a CELTA?  Aren’t we meant to be doing all these things anyway?  I suppose it speaks to the audience of the Edutopia website, which is not primarily language teaching.  Maybe language teachers are just more responsive and methodologically up-to-date than mainstream education…..

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Image Credit: Pixabay

The piece is based on a book by John Hattie, who is the director of the Educational Research Institute at the University of Melbourne.  He has made his name in the field of meta-analysis, effectively taking in all the data from studies that have looked at educational attainment and looking at it to see what patterns emerge.  In 2008 he published “Visible Learning”, which was based on 800 meta-studies from around the world and which identified positive and negative processes in classroom learning, such as the long summer break that has now led some schools to adjust their school calendars to teach over the summer and provide more shorter terms punctuated by more, shorter holidays.  In 2011 he published a follow up book “Visible Learning for teachers” that looks at the practical implications for teachers and suggests strategies they can employ to maximise the learning that takes place.  The article is based on this latter book.

I don’t disagree with the suggestions made in the article – but it made me wonder what my five “effective teaching practices” would be.  This is what I came up with.  I can’t claim that I do all these things all the time, but I generally try to do them most of the time!

(1)  Have fun.  Obviously, it doesn’t necessarily follow that if the teacher is having fun the students are too (“Dance, my minions!  Dance!”), but if you’re bored and pissed off then the students probably will be too.  You can’t be happy all the time, and some activities and goals are more serious than others, but fun should always be there, like a background harmonic.

(2) Make it valuable.  Time is precious to everybody, young and old, and we’ve all sat through too many meetings where at the end of it we walk out thinking “That was three hours of my life I won’t see again” that we should probably make sure our students don’t feel the same way about us!  Again, difficult to achieve with ALL the students ALL the time, but possible to do with MOST of the students MOST of the time.  And if you have a student who is getting nothing out of it at all, then they’re in the wrong class.  I had a 15 year old CPE student whose main school teacher used to send him to the library to look up words in the dictionary because she felt it was a better use of his time than being in her class….

(3) Make them DO stuff.  We’ve been having this discussion in the forums on another post, and again, it isn’t something that you can do for every language point or for every skills focus, but my everlasting bugbear with the majority of materials is that the students aren’t required to be active producers of language, but that they are mostly seen as passive receptacles.  There is room for both aspects and indeed, both are needed to give the students time for input to become intake – but I don’t believe that is where it should stop.  Involve tasks and activities that ask the learners to USE whatever language they have.

(4) Know your students.  This ties in a bit to the first two because if you don’t know your students well, then you probably won’t have as much fun or make it as valuable as they need.  But essentially as a teacher, your job is to help the students get from where they are, to where they want to go.  If you don’t know them, you won’t know either of these things and won’t be able to help as effectively.  I am a big fan of needs analysis, in particular using google forms for this process, and I do this with all my adult and exam classes.  I haven’t yet come up with a decent needs analysis form for young learners, so if you have – please share!

(5) Teaching not testing.  The majority of summative testing or formal assessment is completely pointless.  The majority of tests don’t do what they are actually meant to do, which is measure what the students can do with the language.  Very often in a language learning context what they measure is the learners ability to manipulate a grammatical structure under controlled and guided conditions, so I do wonder what getting seven out of ten in an exercise where the student has to put the verb into the past continuous tells us?  Given the choice I wouldn’t bother with it.  Including a test in a course makes a mockery of the idea of needs analysis and student centered learning, because as soon as you put a test in the course, it becomes about test centered learning.  Alas I am not in a position to follow through on this idea completely, mostly because other stakeholders in the process want to be able to reduce an abstract concept like “language ability” to an easy to read number on a report card.  But there we go.

So – these are my five!  I’d be interested to know what other people think.  It is a largely subjective process (despite all the research that John Hattie put into his ideas), so do feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Image credit: Pixabay

Image credit: Pixabay

An Overview of Learning Theories

14 Mar

This is possibly the most complete online resource I have ever come across on learning theories:

Learning Theory

I had to reduce the browser to 50% just to get the screenshot, but if you click the picture or the link below you should be taken to the original.

http://cmapspublic3.ihmc.us/rid=1LNV3H2J9-HWSVMQ-13LH/Learning%20Theory.cmap

It’s a concept map that links thinkers and theorists with their concepts and theories and shows where they are situated in the wider academic context.  It also contains web links to further reading on both the thinkers and the thoughts.

A little light break time reading for you…

Thanks to Anthony Ash for sharing this on facebook.

A Systematic Pattern – material considerations online and off

7 Mar

Image Credit: Pixabay

A Systematic Pattern. (Image Credit: Pixabay)

In many respects, the regular occurrence of systematic features is what makes a course a course.  It is these features which tell us that we are moving from one section to another and thus that we have indeed “moved on”.  Whether anything has been learnt is another matter, but from course design perspective, the impression of progress is important.  There are pedagogical and administrative concerns as well – you select material to help you fulfill the course objectives and you then group that material into thematically linked modules – the systematic features tell us that we are at the beginning of a module, half way through the middle or approaching the end.

The advantages are then that the systematic features orientate us to our position within the module.  When we encounter a particular feature we know (a) where we are and (b) what is expected of us (at least after the initial stages).  The unfamiliar then becomes familiar and allows us to function and contribute effectively, thus adding to our own feelings of accomplishment and learning.  The disadvantages are that these features can act as a bit of a straight-jacket – they might constrain learning by not allowing for experimentation beyond the task or they might constrain the teaching by not allowing the tutor to do something innovative.  Plus, it might all get a bit boring.

This is just as true for face to face courses as it is for online – coursebooks in fact make a virtue of their systematic features (or try to).  An example of this is Cutting Edge if you find your copy of the book and flick through it, you’ll find that the format of each module is broadly similar – some variation in layout and sequence perhaps, but the sections and design of the tasks is pretty much the same throughout.  I think where F2F courses differ from the online is that the F2F teacher is freer to just throw their hands in the air and say “You know what?  Today we’re going to….” – an online teacher, I don’t think, has that liberty.  The units and materials are very often “up there” and the tutors and participants simply access them as they get to them, though obviously the tutors control the rate of access and when materials get released.

There is then, much more reliance on the course materials in the online world.  The teacher is not so much of a resource as they are in face to face and the learners, who are often pushed for time and have busy lives elsewhere, tend to prefer only to do those tasks that they feel will be of benefit to them passing the course.  Very often what happens (and here I speak from experience of both a teaching and learning perspective) is that participants log in, cut and paste their answers into the forum and log off again.  There is reluctance – but not always – to engage in anything that doesn’t meet the course requirements and building the interaction between participants is therefore more difficult in the online world than in the offline world,

But you could also argue that the lack of rigidity and possibility of variance is a weakness in face to face teaching – the students are at the mercy of the teacher and have no choice but to participate in the lessons the teacher has provided.  If the teacher doesn’t really feel up for it that day and decides to put on a movie / documentary / episode of The Simpsons and ask a bunch of content questions at the end to justify showing the thing, what else can the students do?

It seems that the course itself is a thing that needs to have a programmed rigidity, or perhaps certainty would be a better word.  Whether it is online or offline, teachers need to know what they are going to teach and students need to know what they are going to learn.  Within that though, there needs to be flexibility to deal with matters arising and the opportunity to dive off into something useful and interesting that isn’t on the original program.  This is an area where I think online courses are lacking at the moment, but perhaps this too, as the medium develops, is beginning to change?

Image Credit: Pixabay

An Unsystematic Pattern? (Image Credit: Pixabay)

Note:  I originally wrote parts of this post as part of my training to tutor online, when I did the IHCOLT in 2o13 and I had a reflective blog related to my training.  I’m now rationalising that blog and am migrating some of the content here, rather than lose it all.  Since I did the IHCOLT, I’ve been working as an online tutor with IH OTTI and I have updated this post to reflect this experience and my changing thinking.

 

The Interview Round

29 Feb

Job interviews are fun things to prepare learners for.  A colleague and I once prepared a student for a job interview as a hotel receptionist by sitting her in the director’s office and making spurious phone calls to her in a variety of comedy accents with demands ranging from the mundane (clean towels) to the ridiculous (arranging a private jet to pick the children up from school).  I never found out whether it helped her or not….

More recently, my FCE class did a module on the working world and to finish it off we did a job interview task.  It went really well.  They really enjoyed it, there was loads of great language and some truly brilliant questions which, given that they are teenagers with no experience of the job market, made me very happy.  So I thought I’d share it!

Image credit: Pixabay

Image credit: Pixabay

I divided the class into two groups.  Group A were the interviewers and Group B the interviewees.

Group A worked collaboratively to decide which jobs they were interviewing for and what questions they would ask.  Each interviewer had to recruit for a different job, so we had John recruiting for an astrophysicist and Mary recruiting for a babysitter and Anne for a stage prompter.

Group B worked collaboratively to think of what kind of qualities and experience might help them to get different types of jobs and to think of questions to ask about the terms and conditions, working hours etc.

The key is that Group B doesn’t know what jobs they are interviewing for, so group A have to keep it a secret!

In the interview stage, group A were sat separately around the edges of the room and paired off with someone from group B.  Each pair had two or three minutes to interview / be interviewed and then the students from group B rotated to the next interviewer.

At the end of the activity, Group A got back together and decided which candidates they would hire for their job – and they had to hire someone, so there was a bit of additional negotiation going on there!  Group B had to work out which interviewer was interviewing for which job – piecing it together from clues obtained during the process.

Because of time constraints, I stopped the interview process about two thirds of the way through, so that everybody had only spoken to about four or five other people.  I think that also worked quite well because it added a bit more of a jigsaw element to working out the final task.  I also liked that the interviewees had more of a task to do than just compare questions, which is a problem I’ve come across in the past.

Try it out yourself and let me know how it goes – or if you have any variations on the theme?

 

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