TEFL teaching materials

teaching professional people english

Easy online content – Telling stories

Today I am proposing a lesson inspired by an excellent thought-provoking article off  ‘Wise Bread’ the personal finance blog.  You can find it here.

Before I go any further, I would also like to recommend some accompanying resources – two vocabulary lists ;



And one of Liz Reagan’s fabulous worksheets off the same website.  I am slightly embarrassed here – I cannot find it on the site this morning, so I am uploading it from my computer.  If anyone can give me the english club url for it, I will happily rectify ;   Advertising worksheet

So … I am planning to use this with a small group of upwardly mobile adults with an intermediate level of english.  The class is 2 hours long but I daresay that the material could be stretched to 3 – especially if the numbers allowed for group work.

  • Warm-up  I intend to use the worksheet up to section G.
  • Pre-reading  1  At about this point, I shall be able to weigh up how close my students are to stumbling onto the subject of the article for themselves.  If I can take the chat there naturally I shall.  If not I shall explain that I don’t want to finish the sheet right now because I have something else I would like to discuss – namely, the idea of how advertisements actually ‘work’.  …

I have heard a theory – namely that advertisers cause us to be attracted to products and services by suggesting that they will change who we are, or will change something about our lives – that life will be improved when we buy them.  These messages are termed ‘aspirational’, and tap into our unspoken ambitions ….

For example, what kind of man drives a ‘Lotus’?  (They don’t ‘get’ it yet?  Do you drive a ‘Lotus’?  Why not?)  What kind of woman has a ‘carré Hermes’?

  • Pre-reading 2  Application – I shall produce a pile of magazines.  They needn’t be in english.  We will then be able to examine and consider the advertising.  Inside front covers and back covers are particularly good here.  The ‘Patek Philippe’ ads on the back of Newsweek are a case in point.  ‘Buy our watch’ they suggest ‘and you can become Roger Federer or Andre Agassi … ‘  what is it about these people which would inspire a person to part with six months’ salary for a watch?  Perfume adverts are also great for this.  I wouldn’t confine the discussion to luxury ads – some of the more everyday marketing is at least as highly charged.  Plan to include a variety of magazine titles if possible.
  • Reading  If the discussion goes well, I shall keep the article back until afterwards.  If the group struggles, I shall produce it earlier.  As the article is on-line, students will need computer access in order to read it – make sure that the machines are ‘on’ and on standby, or you will waste valuable time.  They should be able to tackle it with no problems after the preparation activities.  I shall ask them to read it through with a view to summarising it, and saying which points they agree with, and which they dislike.
  • Rounding-off  If there is a lot of time to spare, I shall fall back on the worksheet – there are probably questions remaining in section G, and we will not have touched on the remaining items. ( Unfortunately, I can’t give you the teachers’ notes.  If you don’t recognise the examples in section I, each a classic in business english textbooks, e-mail me and I’ll give you some pointers)  If there are only a few minutes, I shall just ask what aspirational messages they think would be the most positive, and whether or not they see those in the advertising they encounter…

About Catherine Kennedy

Second year undergrad (super-mature) at Sheffield Uni doing single honours Religion, Theology, and the Bible. (Formerly TEFL teacher in France)

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February 2012
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