Thursday, 11 February 2010

Reading/ Writing - Secret London

One of my students in Buenos Aires was planning a trip to London so I found this list of things to do in London on the Timeout website. The list is a bit different from the normal touristy ideas - it feels more like a guide to 'Secret London' which gets the students interest. Endless vocab to explore too.

It's perfect for a skim reading exercise. Get your students to just read the titles and then to pick the ones that catch their eye. They can then read these in more detail and explain them to their group or the class.

For a follow-up you could get the students to write a secret guide to their city - get them to pick 5 things that you wouldn't find in the tourist guides.

More London lesson ideas to follow soon.

Things to do in London

1. Pre-brunch Bloody Mary

Start the day with a well-made Essex breakfast. Hotel bars are often a better bet as they’re usually quieter than your local boozer and house some of the city’s most artful cocktail makers. Try Claridges or the Coburg Bar at the Connaught for its relaxed vibe and comfy leather and velvet interior. Or for a more hardcore prescription, head to the excellent Providores & Tapa Room where the Bloody Marys are made with lemon, coriander and a devilish lump of wasabi. You have been warned.

2. Sun spotting in Hampstead

Nothing will make you feel better about crawling out from under the duvet than watching the sunrise over London, and there’s no better place to do it than Parliament Hill (although south Londoners will inevitably put in a claim for Greenwich). Once you’ve basked in its splendour – and if you’re feeling adventurous – it’s a short hop to Hampstead ponds for an invigorating dip.

3. Junk shopping in Holloway

Nag’s Head Covered Market on Seven Sisters Road (next to Morrisons) is a proper, rough-round-the-edges retail experience. It specialises in secondhand goods, so if you get there early, you can pick up bargains ranging from old vinyl to mostly working toasters.

4. Sunday service at St Martin-in-the-Fields

If you want to inject a little atmospheric worship into the proceedings, experience Holy Communion in the spectacular St Martin-in-the-Fields. Or for a reminder of London’s multiculturalism, visit one of the afternoon services for the Chinese community: at 1.15pm there’s a service in Mandarin, and at 2.15pm there’s one in Cantonese.

5. Get your heart racing on the river

The Nike Bridges Run is an informal group run around Battersea Park and Chelsea Embankment, suitable for all standards, with three- or five-mile routes. It’s a great way to train up to one of the regular 5k or 10k races held in the capital, or just to get your heart pumping so you’re ready to tackle the rest of the day. Run starts at 9am.

6. Instant karma in Holland Park

Head to the serene milieu of Kyoto Gardens in Holland Park. The bridge at the foot of a waterfall is one of the city’s most peaceful spots; the perfect place to atone for the night before.

7. Disco roast in Shoreditch

If you like your Sunday lunch with a side order of electronic music then head upstairs at the newly opened East Village where local DJs spin house, breaks, hip hop and funk tracks while hungry ravers tuck into fairly priced roasts.

8. Get steamed up in the city

Ironmonger Row Baths is a superb choice for those with a hangover. Inside, you’ll find a huge pool, Turkish baths, plus bodyscrubs and massages from £5 (Turkish baths and bodycrubs women only on Sundays).

9. Time travel in Kensington

Linley Sambourne House in Kensington, where from 1875 Punch cartoonist Edward Linley Sambourne lived with his wife and two children, provides a chance to visit a late-Victorian, middle-class home that has survived largely unchanged. Get down there and see how they used to do Sundays.

10. Art house cinema in Soho

Skip the latest Hollywood mush by taking in a double bill at the arty Curzon in Soho. On Sundays, talks and Q&As often follow films while swish snacks and continental lagers are served at the downstairs bar.

11. Get political in Westminster

The People’s Picnic is a weekly gathering in Parliament Square to demonstrate against the provisions of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 that restrict protest within 1km of the Houses of Parliament. Expect a diverse range of protesters singing songs, playing guitars and debating politics – and eating. It’s free to join in, so make yourself some cheese sandwiches, fill the Thermos with hot tea and get down there.

12. Take a climb in the Square Mile

The Monument is one of London’s most overlooked tourist attractions – a big advantage on Sundays when everyone else is cramming into the obvious museums. Nip into Sir Christopher Wren’s tribute to the Great Fire just before it closes, clamber up the 311 steps, and be rewarded with a giddying view across London.

13. Roller stroll on the Serpentine

Their team mantra is to put the ‘ha ha’ back into group skating. Sunday Roller Stroll sees up to 100 skaters meet on the east side of Serpentine Road and set off on a six- to eight-mile supervised roller hike around the capital. A new route is planned each week and can be viewed on their website. All welcome.

14. Ride London’s only steam railway

The museum is housed in a nineteenth-century pumping station and contains the famous Cornish beam engines, which used to pump west London's water supply. On Sundays you can ride the Hunslet steam locomotive ‘Cloister’.

15. Pay your respects at Kensal Green

Every Sunday you can join a fascinating tour of the first great London Cemetery at Kensal Green, final resting place of Blondin, Trollope, Thackeray, the Brunels and two children of George III. Tours on the first and third Sunday of the month include an exploration of the catacomb (under-12s not admitted).

16. Nose around a Georgian house in the East End

The special tours of Dennis Severs’ House immerse visitors in a unique form of theatre. Guests are escorted, in total silence, into candlelit chambers from which, apparently, their eighteenth- and nineteenth-century inhabitants have only just withdrawn. Powerful historical sensations and a family saga add up to a magical journey through time. Unsuitable for children.

17. Visit the Hoxton Pony about tea time

Cocktails in china cups? No this isn't Prohibition-era Harlem, it's just the way folk round these parts drink tea. As well as the self-cooling infusion jars dispensing 'tea', you'll find berry muffins, cinnamon cherry cake and, of course, an assortment of sandwiches. Served for groups of 4, 8 or 12, prices work out at £10 per head. Booking ahead recommended.

18. Play an indoor par four in Soho

If you don’t fancy trekking out to the suburbs for a game, Urban Golf in Soho may just be the future of city golf. Its hi-tech simulators let you play 50 of the world’s most famous courses without leaving W1. There are also lessons on offer, as well as food and drink, served in the ‘clubhouse’ bar.

19. Meet the folks in Clerkenwell

Live acts play a mix of country, Americana, bluegrass and bluesat this unashamedly folk-oriented Clerkenwell pub which hosts a folk night on the second and last Sunday of every month.

20. Heckle comedy legends at Picadilly

They may not be new to the London scene, but the Comedy Store Players are reliable friends when it comes to Sunday night entertainment. You’re guaranteed a beer-splutteringly hilarious demonstration of wit, improvisation and sheer silliness, featuring such towering figures as Paul Merton, Josie Lawrence, Neil Mullarkey and Richard Vranch (who may or may not be on piano). Best of all, the audience are positively encouraged to get involved (although if you decide to be rude, be prepared for some of the most ruthless heckle-repellers in the business).

21. Come down in Camden

Skinny-jeaned students descend upon the Lock Tavern en masse on Sundays, lured by the cosy black couches, warm wood panelling downstairs, the open-air terrace, decent hodge and the unpredictable after-party vibe.

22. Wet Yourself in EC1

Weekly after-party of dirrrrty electro, minimal and booty-shakin' bootlegs for the capital’s chemically inclined job seekers and footloose students.

23. Jazz on the Thames

Take in famous London landmarks on this atmospheric river jaunt where a three-course meal is served to the sound of old jazz hands playing Frank Sinatra and George Benson classics.

24. Find Jesus at Soho’s church of rock

Everyone is welcome to this weekly meet-up of God-botherers with the tortured souls of the capital’s goth, metal, doom and punk rock scene. Asylum Weekly Fellowship meeting has a strict no-preach policy and instead provides a forum to discus current affairs in a biblical context while occasionally throwing in some free (fair trade) scran, film screenings and live music.

25. Canal boat trip in Little Venice

Jason's Trip navigates the picturesque route along Regent's Canal from Little Venice, through Regent's Park, on to Camden Lock and back again. The boat is more than 100 years old and the trip, which includes a live historical commentary, has been a feature on the canal since 1951.

26. Picnic at Morden Hall Park

This beautiful former deer park and ancient hay meadow with an extensive network of waterways and impressive avenues of trees is perfect for family picnics. The old estate buildings house a National Trust information centre, a garden centre, and the Snuff Mill Environmental Eduction Centre (open Apr-Oct on the first Sunday of each month, with free family explorer packs available for loan).

27. Guided gallery hopping in the East End

Weekly walks providing guided tours of six to ten current exhibitions showing at the many galleries in the area. Saturday's walk starts at Contemporary Art Projects, 20 Rivington Street, EC2; Sunday's meeting point is VINEspace, 25a Vyner Street, E2. Organised by CommentArt.

28. Harrangue the masses in Hyde Park

A bastion of free speech and one of the capital’s most revered and eccentric attractions, Speakers' Corner is at its busiest on Sundays. Everyone from creationist despots, religious militants and emboldened socialists aim talk of revolutions and damnations at thousands of unengaged tourists.

29. Volunteer for The Food Chain

Started on Christmas Day in 1988, The Food Chain’s Sunday Meal service relies on up to 1000 volunteers to help provide free nutrition to house-bound people living with HIV in London. Help out as a cook, kitchen assistant or use your own car to deliver meals (expenses paid).

30. Organic food shopping at Farmers’ markets across town

Spend the day scouting for well-sourced organic produce at one of the capital’s handful of Sunday-opening food markets. Winner of a Time Out Eating & Drinking award 2008, Alexandra Palace Farmers Market has a mix of hot and cold food; try a juicy grilled sausage from the sizzling pig or coconut milk-basted Mozambican chicken from stallholder Zambeziana.

31. Play bingo with backpackers

Proper old fashioned no nonsense bingo night at a lively north London pub just off Edgware Road. Above the pub is a youth hostel popular with young travellers lured by the 20 per cent student discount on all drinks.

32. Bike Polo on Brick Lane

Take wry satisfaction from hacking the legs of Nathan Barley-type Hoxtonites every week at this urban bike polo meet-up at the top of Brick Lane from 1pm-7pm. Mallets and balls are provided so beginners need only bring a bike –although a heightened sense of irony is also recommended.

33. See world-class theatre on the South Bank

After some grappling with the actors’ union Equity, The National Theatre is piloting a season of seven-day programming from September to January 2009. Performances start at 3pm, but the building opens at midday, offering ample time to take a brunch of buttermilk pancakes, blueberries, roasted banana and maple syrup or eggs Benedict at the often impressive Mezzanine. Plus, £10 day tickets go on sale at 12pm, get there early for the sold-out shows.

34. Slurp oysters in E2

Start the day with a few well-sourced rock oysters served with fresh bread, Tabasco sauce and lemon juice, just a short walk from the bustling flower market on Columbia Road. This quaint back-garden set up can be found in the alley that connects Ezra Street and Shipton Street next to Jones’s equally inviting dairy store.

35. De-junk your house at a car boot sale

Join the scrum for a pitch or have a rummage around one of the capital’s handful of car boot sales. Battersea, Cuffley, Hatfield, Hewitts and Farm and Holloway are all open on Sundays and sell a mix of clothes, antiques, crockery and furniture.

36. Knitting in the West End

Sunday Knit Roast, a new weekly event from the folk at the well-established knitting club 'I Knit London' finds the capital’s glittering kniterati meeting at 12noon at different boozer each week for a sleepy afternoon of drinking, eating and, of course, knitting.

37. Free Brazilian dance lessons on Drury Lane

A Sunday institution named after northeastern Brazil's Euro-Afro indigenous rhythm and its distinctive, sexy dance moves. Get your grind on as Zeu Azevedo and Forrodaki band play live too. Get there early for free Forro lessons.

38. Get your skates on in Brentford

Take up inline skating in Brentford. The four-week beginners’ course will take you from the basics to expert moves. Private tuition is available or join one of their group meetings.

39. Play it square in Kennington
If it’s not raining, you should find a game of boules going on in Kennington’s picturesque Cleaver Square – an easy way to lose a few hours before dinner. The homely Prince of Wales pub provides refreshment for the athletes, with a great range of Shepherd Neame beers (Best and Spitfire among them) and a 16-bottle wine list.

40. Have you picture taken by a professional photographer for free

Prolific London-based photographer Seamus Ryan opens up his east London studio every Sunday and invites the nearby flower market revellers to participate in his ongoing art project, Sunday Shoots. All welcome and pictures of all participants can be viewed on his website.

Reading/ Writing/ Speaking - In Fashion

I found this article on the Guardian website and it works perfectly for a fun lesson. It's a fashion article about Topshop but written in the style of a break-up letter.

So you can take it in two ways. You can use the vocabulary from the 'letter' and get your students to write break-up letters. Keep it light-hearted - we don't want the class in floods of tears.

Or you can concentrate more on fashion. Below you'll find some key fashion voacb, some discussion questions and an idiom quiz based on phrases we use with items of clothing.

Reading Text

Sorry Topshop, there's someone else.

Dear Topshop,

I don't know how to say this. I can't believe I'm writing this letter. But, um, we need to talk. This is going to come as a bit of a shock – after all, we've been in love for five years, and since fashion years are like dog years – that means we were getting on for our golden wedding anniversary. But although I still love you, it feels like the spark has gone.

Also, please don't be upset, but there's someone else. Actually, it's a bit more complicated than that. For a long time, me and you – well, we've had something special. There were other labels on the high street I went to for other reasons – I could never resist Whistles and Reiss for sophisticated treats, or Cos and Gap for trousers and swish T-shirts – but when it came to the real pump-up-your-heartrate kind of shopping, the have-to-have-it-now fashion treasures that lift your mood faster than a tequila shot, I never had eyes for anyone else.

Then one day, I found myself in River Island. And then it was, when no one was looking. And then New Look. And now Oasis.
I can't live a lie any more.

Looking back, I think perhaps the passion went out of our relationship when everyone found out about us. I remember when shopping at Topshop was a guilty pleasure, a secret that most people wouldn't understand. But all that changed when Kate Moss came on the scene. These days everyone knows, and all that excitement seems like another lifetime. I'm not blaming Kate, but if it hadn't been for her, who knows how differently things would have turned out?

Also, a girl needs to feel special, and it's hard to keep up a meaningful relationship when every shopping date is shared with approximately half of all the female tourists under 40 in the city at that time.

This doesn't have to be for ever. We could be like Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, and fall in love again. (Actually, reconciliations are going to be very 2010 – look at Jude and Sienna.)

I'm going to go now. I can feel I'm welling up, and I don't want to get tearstains on my new Oasis top.



What reasons does the writer give for falling out of love with Topshop?
What style is this letter written in? Consider the following phrases. When would you use them?

- I don't know how to say this.
- We need to talk
- It feels like the spark has gone
- There's someone else
- I never had eyes for anyone else
- The passion went out of our relationship
- I can't live a lie anymore
- A girl needs to feel special

Your Turn

Imagine you need to write a letter to your boyfriend/ girlfriend, explaining why you want to break up with them. Try and use some of the phrases from the text and consider some of the following points:

- Why are you breaking up with this person?
- Have they done something wrong?
- Have you done something wrong?
- Do they have any annoying habits?
- Is there someone else?
- Do you still want to be friends?
- Are there things you will miss about them?

Fashion/ Clothes Discussion

- Do you like shopping? If so, why? If no, why not?
- Who do you usually like to go shopping with? Why do you like to go shopping with him/her/them?
- How do you decide what clothes to buy?
- Have you ever bought something because it was fashionable? If so, what?
- What clothes are in fashion at the moment in your country?
- What do you wear for special occasions?
- Why are most of the models on the catwalks very skinny? Do you think fashion designers should use more 'natural looking models?
- Which countries have the best and worst fashions in clothes?

Fashion vocabulary

- Cutting edge design
- This season's look
- Up to date
- In fashion
- Out of fashion
- Fashion conscious
- Fashion victim
- Tight fitting
- Figure hugging
- Trendy
- Designer fashion
- High street fashion
- Haute couture
- Cut a dash
- Look the part
- Dressed to the nines/ to kill
- Mutton dressed as lamb
- Cat walk
- Supermodel

English Idioms Quiz - Clothing

Choose one phrase from group A and one from Group B to make a common English idiom. Then choose the correct meaning from Group C.

The first is done for you. To have ants in your pants is to be nervous or restless.

Group A
to have ants
to do something at
to hit below
to buckle
to be dressed
to fit like
to lose
to say or do something
to pull something
to tighten

Group B
in your pants
the belt
out of a hat
the drop of a hat
your shirt
to kill
off the cuff
your belt
like a glove

Group C
be nervous or resltless
lose all or most of your money
get something as if by magic or without any effort
insult someone in an unfair way
say or do something without preparation or impulsively
wear your best, most fashionable clothes
do something without waiting, immediately
live on less money, try to live spending less money
clothing that fits perfectly
give complete attention to doing something


to have ants in your pants
- be nervous or resltless

to do something at the drop of a hat
- do something without waiting, immediately

to hit below the belt
- insult someone in an unfair way

to buckle down
- give complete attention to doing something

to be dressed to kill
- wear your best, most fashionable clothes

to fit like a glove
- clothing that fits perfectly

to lose your shirt
- lose all or most of your money

to say or do something off the cuff
- say or do something without preparation or impulsively

to pull something out of a hat
- get something as if by magic or without any effort

to tighten your belt
- live on less money, try to live spending less money

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Listening/ Speaking - Bank Robbery

Ok time for a bit of fun with your students. I've used this with beginners and more advanced students and it works equally as well. They are going to enter the world of crime and plan a bank robbery! I find that they often come up with some very elaborate plans and it's great for teaching a wealth of vocabulary.

And what could be a more perfect set-up than using The Clash's classic track, Bankrobber as a listening exercise? Gap fill is below followed by the full lyrics and the role play.

Alternatively you can ask your students to come up with as many crimes as they can think of, board them and then ask them to put them in order of seriousness. An initial list is at the bottom of the posting.

Bankrobber - The Clash. Gap Fill

My Daddy was a __________
But he never hurt ____________
He just loved to live that way
And he loved to steal your ___________

Some is ________ and some is __________
And that's the way the world is
And I don't believe in lying back
And saying how bad your luck is

So we came to jazz it up
Never loved a _________
Break your back to earn your ________
And don't forget to _________

Daddy was a ___________
But he never hurt __________
He just loved to live that way
And he loved to take your __________

The old man spoke up in a _________
Said I never been in ___________
A lifetime serving one machine
Is ten times worse than prison

Imagine if all the boys in _______
Could get out now together
What do you think they want to say to us
While we were being clever?

Someday you'll meet your __________
Cause that's where we're spinning
There's no point to want to comb your hair
When its grey and thinning

Daddy was a __________
But he never hurt ____________
He just loved to live that way
And he loved to steal your ____________

So we came to jazz it up
We never loved a ________
Break your back to earn your ___________
And don't forget to __________

Get away, get away
Get away, get away
Get away, get away
Get away

Daddy was a _________
But he never hurt __________
He just loved to live that way
And he loved to steal your ___________

Run, rabbit, run

Strike out boy
For the hills
I can't find that hole in the wall
I know that they never will

Bankrobber - The Clash. Full Lyrics

My Daddy was a bankrobber
But he never hurt nobody
He just loved to live that way
And he loved to steal your money

Some is rich and some is poor
And that's the way the world is
And I don't believe in lying back
And saying how bad your luck is

So we came to jazz it up
Never loved a shovel
Break your back to earn your pay
And don't forget to grovel

Daddy was a bankrobber
But he never hurt nobody
He just loved to live that way
And he loved to take your money

The old man spoke up in a bar
Said I never been in prison
A lifetime serving one machine
Is ten times worse than prison

Imagine if all the boys in jail
Could get out now together
What do you think they want to say to us
While we were being clever?

Someday you'll meet your rockin chair
Cause that's where we're spinning
There's no point to want to comb your hair
When its grey and thinning

Daddy was a bankrobber
But he never hurt nobody
He just loved to live that way
And he loved to steal your money

So we came to jazz it up
We never loved a shovel
Break your back to earn your pay
And don't forget to grovel

Get away, get away
Get away, get away
Get away, get away
Get away

Daddy was a bankrobber
But he never hurt nobody
He just loved to live that way
And he loved to steal your money

Run, rabbit, run

Strike out boy
For the hills
I can't find that hole in the wall
I know that they never will

Role Play - Bank Robbery

You are going to plan a bank robbery! Discuss the following points in groups and make your plan:

- What roles which each member of the team fulfil?
- Where is the bank?
- How much money do you plan to take?
- What time of day will you rob the bank?
- How will you get into the bank? Is there a lot of security?
- Will you be armed?
- How will you make sure nobody gets hurt?
- How will you make sure you don't get caught? Will you wear a disguise?
- How long will it take?
- How will you make your get-away? Will you have a get-away car? Who will drive?
- Where will you go after the robbery?
- What will you do with the money?

Role Play - Some Useful Vocabulary

- Alarm
- Arrest
- Break-in
- Crowd control
- Diversion tactics
- Get-away
- Have-a-go hero
- Hostage
- Hold-up
- CCTV cameras
- Safe
- Security guard
- Weapon

Vocabulary - Crimes

Drug smuggling

Reading/ Speaking - The World's Tallest Building

A lesson idea here using an article from the BBC about the opening of the world's tallest building. Lends itself well to a scan reading exercise before some more detailed questions and discussion points. All are below.

Then you've set the scene perfectly for the extended speaking follow-up where students have to set up a new society, build a monument, organise an opening ceremony and decide the laws of this new country. Never fails to get students talking.

World's tallest building opens in Dubai

The world's tallest building has been opened with a dramatic fireworks ceremony in the Gulf emirate of Dubai

The Burj Khalifa was revealed to be 828m (2,716ft) high, far taller than the previous record holder, Taipei 101.

Known as the Burj Dubai during construction, the tower has been renamed after the leader of Dubai's oil-rich neighbour, Abu Dhabi.
Last month, Abu Dhabi gave Dubai a $10bn (£6.13bn) bail-out to help it pay off its debts.

Construction of the Burj Dubai began in 2004, at the height of an economic boom.

Clad in 28,000 glass panels, the tower has 160 floors and more than 500,000 sq m of space for offices and flats.

The tower also lays claim to the highest occupied floor, the tallest service lift, and the world's highest observation deck - on the 124th floor.
The world's highest mosque and swimming pool will meanwhile be located on the 158th and 76th floors.

Technical challenges

The opening ceremony, held 1,325 days after excavation work started, was attended by some 6,000 guests.

Though not complete on the inside, it was officially opened by Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

In a surprise move he renamed it Burj Khalifa - after the president of the United Arab Emirates and emir of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahayan.

Sheikh Mohammed described the tower as "the tallest building ever created by the hand of man".

"This great project deserves to carry the name of a great man. Today I inaugurate Burj Khalifa," he said.

Sheikh Mohammed also unveiled a plaque inside the tower bearing the new name.

A dramatic fireworks and lights show took place around the tower while a screen displayed its exact height, which had previously been kept secret.
At 828m, Burj Khalifa dwarfs the 508m Taipei 101 and the 629m KVLY-TV mast in the US, the tallest man-made structure. Its spire can been seen 95km (60 miles) away.

"We weren't sure how high we could go," said Bill Baker of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the building's structural engineer. "It was kind of an exploration... a learning experience."

Mohamed Ali Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties, the developer behind Burj Khalifa, told the BBC that the building's design had posed unprecedented technical and logistical challenges, not just because of its height, but also because Dubai was susceptible to high winds and was close to a geological fault line.

"We have been hit with lightning twice, there was a big earthquake last year that came across from Iran, and we have had all types of wind which has hit us when we were building. The results have been good and I salute the designers and professionals who helped build it," he said.

The design incorporates ideas from traditional Islamic architecture, while the open petals of a desert flower were the inspiration for the tower's base.
Burj Khalifa will be home to 1,044 luxury apartments, 49 floors of offices and eventually a 160-room Armani-branded hotel. Around 12,000 people are expected to live and work in the tower, which is part of a 500-acre development.

However, investors are facing losses even before the tower is completed because property prices in Dubai have slumped amid the global economic crisis.

Quick questions - scan reading. Only give your students a few minutes to find these answers before moving on to the comprehension questions

How tall is the tower?
When did they start building the tower?
How many floors does it have?
Which floor is the swimming pool on?
How many people were at the opening ceremony?

Comprehension questions

What is unique about this building? (give at least 3 examples)
What two things were revealed during the opening ceremony?
What problems have there been during the building of the tower?
What else has changed since construction work first began?

Discussion questions

Why do you think they have built the world´s tallest building?
Is it a waste of money or is it important that we have buildings like this?
Would you like to see the building?
Would you like to work or live in the building?

Creating a new society

This can work equally well with in groups or with just with one student. If you have a class then split them into groups and then they can present their ideas to the rest of the class. Each student gets a turn to speak as they need to explain what their role is in the new society.

The United Nations have decided to create a new country of 10,000 people. You have been chosen to organise this new society.You need to build a monument or landmark and decide the laws of this new country. Consider the following points:

- What is the name of this new country and where is it?
- You need to build a landmark or monument as a symbol of your new country - what will it be? What will it be called?
- You need to organise the opening ceremony. What will happen? What message do you want to send to the rest of the world?
- Who will be the President? What other roles do you need to assign?
- What will the official language(s) be?
- What jobs will there be for the new residents of the country?
- Will you encourage tourists to visit your new country?
- Will citizens be allowed to carry a gun?
- Will you have the death penalty?

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Listening/ Speaking/ Writing - Appraisals

A follow up here to the last posting on job interviews. If you want to carry on the theme you could look at job appraisals.

So instead of interviewing each other they are now reviewing each others' performance in their new roles.

Great way to start is with this clip from The Office, Keith's appraisal. Comedy gold but also useful as you can use David's template to get students to write their own appraisal forms.

As a listening exercise students must write down the three questions that David asks Keith, with the four possible answers.

Then in groups students can brainstorm some more - a few ideas below.

David Brent's multiple choice questions to Keith

To what extent do you believe you have the skills and knowledge to perform your job effectively?

Not at all
To some extent
Very much so
Don't know

Do you feel you have received adequate training to use your computer effectively?

Not at all
To some extent
Very much so
Don't know

Do you feel you are given the flexibility to decide how best to accomplish your goals?

Not at all
To some extent
Very much so
Don't know

Additional questions

To what extent do you feel you have good time management skills?

Do you feel you have achieved your objectives in the past year?

Do you think you have worked well in your team this year?

Do you feel you have improved your communication skills?

Do you think you have met your deadlines?

Have you always been on time for work?

Is your physical appearance in work satisfactory?

Do you feel your knowledge of your role has improved?

Have you improved your administration skills?

Role Play - Appraisal Time

- Split the class into 2 groups
- Students must remember/ write down again the jobs they were interviewed for in the last lesson
- Give Group A's jobs to Group B and vice versa
- Both groups need to write an appraisal form using the questions that they brainstormed earlier. Encourage them to also include some open-ended questions
- Once the forms are ready appraisals can begin with each student from Group A reviewing their counterpart in Group B
- At the end of the exercise switch the students around so they get a chance to fulfil both roles

NB Remind students that they can't take the Keith approach and say 'Don't know' to every question!
The students who are being reviewed must give examples to support their answers in the multiple choice questions.

Speaking - Job Interviews

Getting students doing job interviews in class is always a great lesson - organise it right and the students will get a lot out of it.

For an intro you can ask your students to brainstorm examples of the best and worst jobs.

Then you can elicit some typical job interview questions and answers. Some examples below - of course these are just a selection and are very generic. Clearly if you have students who are about to enter the world of work or who are thinking about changing roles you can go into more specifics about them and their strengths and goals.

Once you've done this you're ready to go and you can get the students interviewing each other for their dream jobs. Ideas for setting this role play up are below the Interview Q&A.

Typical Interview Questions and Some Possible Answers

Why do you want this job?

I feel that I could fulfil this role with distinction

I'm clearly the best person for the job

My experiences and qualifications make me the ideal candidate for the job

I've always been an ambitious person throughout my career and at this stage of my life I'm looking for a new challenge.

I've enjoyed my time at X company but now is the right time to move on

This seems like the logical next step

I'm ready to take on more responsibility

How long do you plan to stay in this position if you got the job?

I'm not looking to put a time-frame on it but I certainly see myself committing to this role for the next 3-5 years, maybe longer.

I'm keen to continue my career progression and I hope to do this within this company when the next opportunity arises.

Where do you see yourself in five years?/ What are your goals?

I see myself continuing to make strides within the company, enjoying further success, and further improving my professional development.

I'd like to have greater responsibility and become an integral part of the team.

I want to keep improving and learning and to maintain the progress that I've already made.

Outside of work I would like to run a marathon this year.

Are you a team player?

I've always enjoyed working in teams. For me job satisfaction is often about sharing success with your team. At the same time there are moments when I like to work on my own if I have a pressing task to complete.

Outside of work I have always enjoyed playing football and this has given me a strong appreciation of the need for a settled and balanced team.

Why are you leaving your current job?/ What will you do if you don't get this job?

I'm not unhappy in my current position and I'd be happy to continue what I'm doing for the time being. But after X years in this role I'm certainly ready to take the next step so I will be looking for further opportunities to ensure my career objectives are met.

The time is right to make a change. As you can see from my CV I have always been loyal to my employers but there are moments when you have to be selfish and do what's right for you.

What are your greatest strengths?

My time management skills are excellent. I'm organized, efficient, and take pride in excelling at my work

I have always hit my targets in work and exceeded the expectations of my manager.

I enjoy my work and when I walk through the door in the morning I always make sure I am focused, alert and in the right frame of mind. I've never had a problem with putting in the hours and

I find I can always find creative solutions to problems and to implement these solutions quickly and effectively.

And weaknesses?

I think I'm pretty self-aware and if I recognise that there is a part of my work that needs improving I am quick to address it. For example last year I felt my organisation skills could be improved so I devised a time management system which enabled me to work smarter and more efficiently.

Sometimes I can be too hands on during a project as I'm so keen to ensure it goes well. I have learnt over the past year to delegate more effectively and to trust my colleagues.

What motivates you?

I am motivated both by the challenge of finishing projects ahead of schedule and by managing the teams that achieve our goals.

I've always been motivated by the desire to do a good job at whatever position I'm in. I want to excel and to be successful in my job, both for my own personal satisfaction and for my employer.

How do you handle stress and pressure?

Stress is very important to me. With stress, I do the best possible job. The appropriate way to deal with stress is to make sure I have the correct balance between good stress and bad stress. I need good stress to stay motivated and productive.

I react to situations, rather than to stress. That way, the situation is handled and doesn't become stressful.

I actually work better under pressure and I've found that I enjoy working in a challenging environment.

Prioritizing my responsibilities so I have a clear idea of what needs to be done when, has helped me effectively manage pressure on the job.

How do you evaluate success?

Success for me is about setting short term and long term goals and achieving them.

It's also the personal satisfaction of knowing that a job has been done well. It's important to me that the whole team shares in this success.

Do you have any questions for me?

How will my performance be measured?

What are the career opportunities for me at this company?

Where do you see the company in 5 years time?

Job Interview Role Play

- Divide the group into two (preferably 2 equal sized groups)
- Students must then think of their ideal job and write it down on a piece of paper.
- Collect all the pieces of paper and then get students in Group A to pick one piece of paper from Group B and vice versa.
- All students now have someone else's job. Students in Group A will be interviewing first. So they must think up specific questions that they can ask during the interview (obviously there are different questions you would ask to a fireman than to a secretary) This is in addition to the generic questions you've already been through.
- Students in Group B will be interviewed for their dream job so they must think about the skills that are needed for this role so they are prepared.
- Once the prep is done the interviewing can commence. Important to monitor here to pick up on great examples of questioning or answering and to note any mistakes.
- You can then switch the groups so all students have practice interviewing and being interviewed.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Speaking - Do people resemble their pets? Part 2

Part 2 of the dog/ people look-a-like classroom exercise as promised. Say what you see folks.

You'd be barking not to use it...