Tag Archives: business

Cambridge English Teachers’ Competition 2012

24 Feb

If you help learners prepare for one of the Cambridge exams, then you might be interested in their new competition: Cambridge English Teachers’ Competition 2012.

All they want is one practical exam preparation idea, succinctly expressed in 300 words, for one of the following exams:

BEC (Preliminary, Vantage or Higher), ILEC, ICFE, YLE (Starters, Movers or Flyers), KET, PET, FCE.

Deadline for entries is April 16th 2012.

More details (including prizes!) from their website:  Cambridge English Teachers’ Competition 2012.


English teaching: A Friday request | The Economist

10 Jan

Originally spotted on Simon Thomas’ efl-resource – it appears The Economist has become aware of it’s own potential in the ELT sphere!  They’re asking their readers, ELT professionals in particular, for their thoughts in how to make best use of Economist material in the classroom and how The Economist can help us to help our learners access their material.

Even if you don’t have any strong desire to contribute to the debate – it’s probably worth taking a look at the article and the comments section underneath it – lots of ideas from people about how they use The Economist!

English teaching: A Friday request | The Economist.


The World in 2012: Predict this!

3 Jan

It’s that time of year when the media maelstrom coalesces around a single topic – the future!  What’s going to happen in the next twelve months?  What can we all expect from the next year?  Will we face triumph or disaster?  And when we look back on it all in December, what will we have achieved?  And just how many “future forms” can you cram into a short paragraph anyway?

Rather than just asking your learners to “predict” the future, which let’s face it is difficult enough at the best of times, let alone in another language…  it’s probably best just to discuss the future for two reasons:  (1)  you immediately broaden out the number of possible “future forms” that you can focus on  (2)  you open things up to discussing the implications of events – so not only “what will happen?”  but also “and what does it all mean for us?”

Over at Slideshare, they’ve collated “12 presentations with predictions” which could form the basis of useful discussions (or comparisons with learner predictions?).  Their 12 presentations are aimed more at the business / tech crowd.  Probably not so good with younger learners

Here’s their top pick – Ross Dawson’s “What to expect in 2012”:

The Economist publishes an annual magazine “The World in … ” which is divided up by topic area and by geographic location.  This year’s copy has a lot of online content here: http://www.economist.com/theworldin/2012 – though some of it may be premium paid for content – check before using!

The biggest / oldest prediction concerning 2012 is of course the Mayan calendar:  for more info check out this wikipedia article.  Two further websites that focus specifically on the forthcoming end of the world that might be of interest (though I don’t vouch for their accuracy) are :  http://www.december2012endofworld.com/  and http://www.2012predictions.net/.

The BBC has a nice review of the best of the British Press predictions for 2012 here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16381278, while they include the thoughts of their top correspondents on the likely big stories of 2012 here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16071986

IATEFL BESIG – Lesson plan competition

22 Nov

Calling all Business English Teachers – this one’s for you!

The IATEFL BESIG, in conjunction with CUP’s Professional English Online website, are running a Lesson plan competition.

It’s open to all (as long as you haven’t had materials previously commercially published) and the deadline is 31st January 2012.

Thanks again to Cherry M. Philipose for sharing this on facebook.



First Lesson: I don’t know what you did last summer!

5 Sep

A very quick alternative to the standard composition task “What I did on my Summer holidays”.

Essentially, you ask the learners to write the composition (100 words? I guess length will be age & level dependent) about somebody else in the class.

I think I’ve blogged a similar activity at some point before, but not sure when.  Anyway, the key to the activity, is that if John is writing about Amy’s holidays, John can’t talk directly to Amy.  John has to ask the other learners in the class, Frank, Marta and so forth to ask Amy the questions that John wants to know the answers to.

Thus through a constant process of questions and answers John eventually gets enough information to write Amy’s composition for her.  Of course, Amy will be writing Marta’s, Marta Frank’s and Frank John’s, so it all evens out eventually.

This is intended as an alternative for classes where learners do know each other – but it also works really well as the final part of a lesson with a class where nobody knows each other, as John will constantly be explaining to his classmates WHO Amy is, thus meaning everyone should have a much better idea of who everybody else in the class is by the end of it!

Having gathered together all the information during the lesson – the actual writing up of the composition can either be done in class or as a homework task.  What can then be interesting is for the writer and the subject to check how close to the truth the composition is.  The subject can then feedback and edit both the content and language of the composition for later revision – though this would be an optional stage depending on the abilities of the class.

First Lesson: Find Nobody Who…

1 Sep

This is an alternative approach to the inevitable “what did you do on your holidays” conversation.   Many first lesson activities and ideas are based on the premise that nobody knows anybody else but often the students in your classes have come up through the levels together and the only new person in the group is you…

It should also combat those conversations with teenage classes that go:  T: “Hey, how was your summer?”  S: “Alright.”   T:  “What did you do?” S: “Nothing.”

The basic objective is that the learners have to find stuff they did over the holidays that NOBODY else did.

So a simple procedure might be:

Ask the learners if they had a nice summer and lead into a REALLY boring description of what you did over the summer.  e.g.  I watched TV and I played computer games and I did some laundry and stuff.  Ask the learners if they did anything similar.  Establish that pretty much everybody in the class watched TV and played computer games.  Then tell the learners about something slightly more interesting and less usual – for example taking a plane trip – and find out how many people did the same.  Finally, describe something really interesting that you did – or alternatively make something up (e.g. rented a Ferrari and drove up the West coast of the USA).  Find out whether anyone else did the same.

Thus having established the exclusivity principle, ask learners to find something that they did over the summer that nobody else did.  Check that they understand they need to talk to ALL the other learners in the class.

Feedback:  Find out from the learners what interesting and relatively exclusive things they did over the summer.  You could also do some reformulation of any language areas that came up during their mingle activity.

Working with Project Classes

12 Jul

This is an entry for everyone currently working at an ELT summer school somewhere in the world!  It’s not always easy and there’s a lot of hard work – hopefully this post will help out a bit!  I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy my summer school experiences immensely over the years and one of the things I’ve enjoyed doing most has been the project classes.  This post takes a look at what’s important to remember before the project class kicks off and gives some ideas for different projects and how to stage them.

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The disabled access friendly world blog challenge: Creature Discomforts

29 Jun

Following on from the recent blog challenge on raising awareness of disability access issues, I came across the Leonard Cheshire Disability campaign whilst watching Shaun the Sheep dvds with my daughter.

The campaign is called “Creature Discomforts” and has very similar aims to the blog challenge – namely to get people to think about the way they see disability.

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The 8.5 billion dollar verb?

12 May

An interesting post by Deborah Capras on the Business Spotlight blog relating to Microsoft’s recent billion dollar purchase of Skype.  She raises the question:

Which is a really good question and got me thinking….   How much are words worth?  It would be an interesting concept to play around with, particularly in the business classroom, but elsewhere as well I think.

You would need to define your parameters fairly clearly and this is an idea that probably needs a bit more work, but, if you limited the supply of a number of words, things could get interesting…..

So my thought is that you create a chopped up vocabulary set for a discussion topic.  So say you wanted to discuss the Microsoft / Skype deal, you’d highlight the most commonly used words in discussion about the deal (this could be done by using wordle over news story URLs) and create a set of vocab cards.  the higher frequency the word, the more copies you make of it – so while everybody might get a “Microsoft” card, or a “Skype” card, only one or two people would get a “deal” card or a “takeover” card.  Then in conversation, if they wanted to use the word “deal”, they’d have to negotiate the purchase of the word from someone who owned it.

The negotiation process could take place either pre-conversation or during conversation.  You could either allocate each participant with a set mythical amount of money (i.e. here is your thousand Euros), or people could swap words.  Though this wouldn’t really set the value of the words.

It would be a really interesting way of increasing learners awareness of the value of high frequency vocabulary.

Just a thought anyway…  I welcome any contributions from economists willing to help correct any fundamental flaws in the idea!

For more teaching ideas based on the Microsoft Skype deal have a look here:

State of the World’s Mothers 2011 Statistics and Facts – Save the Children

11 May

State of the World’s Mothers 2011 Statistics and Facts – Save the Children – thanks to Greg Fuller for posting this on facebook…..

There’s a lot of information here and obviously the most interesting thing for any class to do would be to pull out all the statistics that relate to their country and decide whether or not they agree with them, why, and what could be done to change the situation….

Who knows – we could start a social revolution right here?

But information transfer tasks are good ways of processing information and creating a meaningful context for language learning to occur in, so designing tasks around the huge pile of data that Save the Children provide would all give a good reasons for learners to develop their linguistic resource.  Poster tasks, presentations (with or without powerpoint), charts and graphs all spring to mind.  Of course for IELTS candidates, there are a lot of graphs and charts just waiting to be described in the data!

There’s also a documentary available on the website which could provide the basis for both listening tasks and discussion afterwards (though maybe not a good idea to watch if you’re expecting, or have just had, a recent addition to the family).

These are all just some initial ideas – if you have any plans, materials or ideas you’d like to share to develop this topic, please let me know!