teaching professional people english
Getting adult learners to write can be a bit of a challenge. Let’s face it, they have all kinds of hangups from school. Getting them to face those demons and commit their English to paper is an achievement worth pursuing. It’s good to get some sentences on paper where you can see them and correct them slowly. It’s also good to stop talking from time to time. Silence being golden ‘n’ all that.
I have stumbled upon a brilliant article about writing executive summaries. Executive sounds important, summary means it’s short. The fact that this business writing project is sales oriented in no way disqualifies non-sales students. The article, if followed, will guide students to a one- or two-paragraph text in less than half an hour.
There is the promise of a sample text if you sign up for the author’s free newsletter.
If your students find this really difficult, I would give them my one piece of advice about press articles – skip the introduction, at least until you are happy with the main points. After that, it seems simple enough to follow, but in my experience that won’t be what happens unless you get involved. Left to themselves many students will read the article and then completely disregard it when they put pen to paper. Why? They just do. They panic, freeze, and revert to (bad) habit. What you need is a trick to interrupt that process.
If you’ve never come across one of these before trust me, they really work. Results guaranteed every time. Give each student a copy. Have them read it through and answer any questions about vocabulary. Explain that the purpose of an evaluation rubric is that they be able to self- and peer-evaluate. (And understand what you want them to do).
Obviously my rubric is designed to address the most common problems my students have with this kind of thing, and they’re french. You might find that my offering is not quite the thing for your classroom – but it’s a place to start from.
Of course, it might be more appropriate for your students to hawk an actual product in their technical field. You can google suppliers. For example, I found sales leaflets for dosimeters and decontamination portals for my students in nuclear maintenance ; )
Ultimately, your people need to be able to sell their own product. Make sure that they have a crack at it in this context. Perhaps they have an idea that they would like to suggest to management. This might be a good time to think about it differently.. although perhaps not during a group lesson in their workplace.