Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Ideas on where to look for material when teaching BE online

Ideas for material for my BE classes.... my favourite stuff : D

I teach business English online for some time now, so I thought it was about time I wrote a blog post about where I look for my material. These suggestions are geared towards boosting the speaking skill. I will not talk about material available in print, my focus is on material I access online. The websites that I use are open and offer their material for free. I am not going to give you any lesson plans but I do have some VERY simple warmer tasks/ideas and some ideas for follow up activities.
One of the benefits of teaching online is that it is easy to go from one page to another as you can send different links to your learner based on his needs and by just pressing a button! So, here goes! I hope you enjoy going from one website to the other!

Material for open/conversational sessions

Very often I have lessons that are more laid back and engage my students in conversations about their interests or kinda work-related issues. Since my learners are attending business English sessions, I do try to use material that is more business English friendly. So, where do I go to look for articles and what are some of my favorite articles?
                          Articles/reading material
I think the language is easy to understand and I like the business tab. Some of my favourite articles from here: 
Change offices from sitting to standing: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26937454
Warm up questions: What do you think about standing up while working instead of sitting down? Do you have stand up desks in your office? What are the benefits of having them in your office?
Follow up task: Send a memo to your colleagues informing them that your company has decided to order stand up desks. Mention why the company has reached this decision (use information from the article) and briefly describe the stand up desks.
Nap pods at work: http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20140108-daydream-believers
Warm up questions: What kind of facilities would you like your company to offer its employees in terms of well-being? What do you think a nap pod is?
Jobs for smart but lazy people (this one causes quite a stir). http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20140228-jobs-for-the-smart-but-lazy
Warmer; Start with this quote which appears at the end of the article.
 "I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job, because he will find an easy way to do it’."
The Guardian:
Top ten satisfying jobs: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/21/top-10-most-satisfying-jobs
Warmer: Get your learners to list the top three most satisfying jobs/top three factors that make a job satisfying. If you are having a one to one session, get your learner to make this list and you, the teacher, make one too. Once the lists are ready, have a short debate about satisfying jobs and what makes a job a good one or not. Then read the article and... do whatever you want to with what's in it : ).
Work from home: http://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2014/apr/24/how-to-lead-workforce-works-from-home
Warmer: Tell your learner he is the manager of a company that has decided to get its workers to work from home. How would he/she set this up? What are some of the difficulties and what are the benefits of such an idea?
Follow up: get your learner to make a PPT presentation introducing the idea of working from home and the steps that need to be taken for this to work.
Speaking about non job related issues
Good spinoff for book conversations:
Even if you do not want to use this with your learners, do have a look at the top 5. Have you read them?
and something about health and well being:
I like this article because it gives ten tips on how to boost your metabolisms and you can get your learners to summarise the paragraphs into bullet points whilst also telling you if they follow these tips or not.
Of course,there are loads of other websites where you can find interesting articles like Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and so on, but most of the time I use the Guardian and the BBC. There is also a cool (am I allowed to say cool, now that I am writing a materials blog post?!? Sure!) site called newsmap http://newsmap.jp/. This site is updated regularly and you can send your learners the link and then a big collage of news from around the world appears and they can choose the article they want to read.
                                                                                                      Screen shot of newsmap


Everybody knows Youtube of course. this is the place to go to for free videos. One of my favourites is this documentary. It is one hour long, so I suggest you tell your learners to watch it as homework (WHAT? Homework?). The video is quite surprising for my German and French learners and it does generate a lot of discussion about internships, inequality in education etc. It is also a great way to start a discussion about different cultures and the job scene. I have prepared a simple lesson plan for this video (I will upload it in a blog post in the near future ...... hopefully).
Who gets the best job? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bD7U8kqI8A

Another website with loads of videos which can be used with your BE students is The Australia Network http://australianetwork.com/businessenglish/ . You need some time cause there are many videos connected to conducting meetings, business socials/small talk etc. Click the tab The Business of English and watch the videos with your learners.

That's all for now. I do know that there are loads of articles/videos you can use with your learners but I wanted to share the ones I use. Apologies if the links do not work where you are but hopefully by knowing where I got the article from and what it is a bout you will be able to find it... or not!

Till next time.....

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