teaching professional people english
Every year since the fifties, the ideal home exhibition or some other technology showcase has announced that at some point in the near future food preparation will be revolutionised. These days that involves ‘smart’ fridges, and ovens that talk to your mobile device (only vagrants like me have phones these days, it seems), all integrated with shopping or ‘food-centric’ apps. A glorious revolution, or hell on earth? A question of personal taste I daresay.
This little video report on the BBC is really good for stimulating conversation, and also takes into account the wider issues of ‘cloud’ technologies, such as the ongoing expense of subscriptions (for an oven? You couldn’t make this stuff up!)
Lead in – vocabulary
This report is just perfect for vocabulary. Much of the language required will have been covered in the school curriculum, although I’m guessing that almost all students will need a bit of a reminder. I suggest giving students a set of cards vocabulary which they can manipulate. Ask them to sort them into categories. Make them decide what those categories should be. Check understanding. Ask them to explain their decisions for placing certain words together. If there are a lot of new words, you might consider having them use a service such as visuwords (see previous post on vocabulary tools). Always favour having a student explain a word the others don’t know, or giving an example. Theirs might not be as good as yours, but the practice is what they’re there for.
When you are satisfied that the vocabulary is acquired, I would have them watch the video mute, and predict the order in which the words will come up. This is where the card wins over the list. If you have a group and you’re lucky, they will disagree and have to discuss their opinions. Ask them if there are any other words or phrases which they think will be used in the film. To check their predictions they will need to listen to the video ‘as is’.
As usual, I have a comprehension questions sheet which you might want to use. Personally, I suspect that the main value for students with a report like this is the discussion it inspires, but most students don’t feel that this is work..
Grammar point – you may find that your students need to revise the 2nd conditional …. I would/wouldn’t want a ‘smart’ fridge.. and if I had a smart fridge/oven/washing machine, I would/wouldn’t/could/couldn’t… Indeed, if that’s something you’ve worked on recently your students will probably relish the practice.
Rôle play the tele-marketing conversation between a salesperson and an unsuspecting householder. The company making the product has a special offer which the salesperson must convince the customer to try.
In order to prepare, have the students think about how telemarketing works. We’ve all been ‘phoned up at some point by people trying to sell us double glazing, water filtration systems, solar panels or gym memberships… what scripting do these calls have? What are the types of deals typically offered? I wouldn’t try the rôle play until that preparation has been done (if necessary, putting it off until the next lesson).
The icing on the cake is when students have imagined family members’ reactions to this sort of gadget…. in specific terms. They tend to be really inspired when playing the householder. Some teachers film these sorts of exercises and post them on U-tube. I don’t ever intend to, but you & your students could….
Just in case, you might find the commercial useful with lower-level students who can’t manage the commentary on the BBC report.