teaching professional people english
Another easy-to-organize lesson. This time, I’m using two podcasts from the BBC website. The reports both provide excellent practice for understanding indian accents – something business people require more and more frequently. They are suitable for folks with a fairly strong intermediate level, as the reporters speak quite quickly. One is about a corruption trial, the other about a chap who just won a million dollars on a TV game show. Strangely enough, the length and the type of information are very similar, so I have combined them to make a listening comprehension exercise which could lead on to some revision and practice of grammar.
To get started, you’ll need to go the website and download several elements. For each report you need the text pdf (probably just for your reference), the audio report, and the audio of the key words. You can find them here and there.
Then you need my comprehension sheet, which is here; Comprehension questions
Run through what the students should expect – 2 short reports in an indian accent. They can be played as many times as required. They can be paused, but not slowed down. Give each participant a comprehension questions sheet. (Business people often resist answering questions, and especially writing anything down. In the case of these reports, given their inherent difficulties, I insist on the questions to some extent because people often think that they have understood what was said when in fact they are totally mistaken.)
Try the first report – listen through once, and see how the students evaluate their performance. If they want a second shot straight away, play it again. Can they answer any of the questions? If you detect that the vocabulary is a bit difficult, play the recording of the key words. Can the students spell them? Explain any new item. Listen to the report again, twice if necessary. Encourage note taking.
Talk through the answers to the questions. Repeat for the second item. Discuss how easy the students found it to follow the commentary. How do the accents featured compare to accents they encounter in their work?
Short stories like these are ideal for revising the narrative tenses and related language items.
Mr. Radjz used to be a government minister. He has been charged with corruption. He has been in prison since February. He sold licences at low prices. etc. etc.
You may also want to use the stories to work on question forms by asking students to write a questionnaire. Or to imagine other questions a journalist might want to ask.
Conversation – on the basis of these reports, how does India compare to the country you are in? Here in France we have corruption scandals, but not on the scale of this one. … What do your students think? Do they watch game shows on TV? Would they enter? Do they know anyone whe has?
If the lesson as proposed would be too difficult for your students, you can make it easier by pre-teaching language. You may decide to do this by playing them the key vocabulary recording, checking that they understand each item, and then asking them to guess the subject of the report. You can help them along, encourage them to ask questions which you can answer. When you are confident that they have covered the subject, and have thought about the concepts involved, try the listening. The more advanced warning a person gets before listening, the more likely they are to understand what they hear.
A more demanding option (for you the teacher) is for you to give an initial listening task before the comprehension questions. For example, write up a series of expressions featured in the report, but out of sequence. Ask the students to listen carefully and decide in which order they occur. This will involve them copying down your list, which will help them to memorise the words you choose.