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APLING 806 Kevin Sprague

An exploration of the international office place. Learning how to communicate what you want to say the way you want to say it and resolving communication when it breaks down.

Business English Course: The International Office Place

1) Introduction a. Brief Course Summary b. Student Background c. Course Goals 2) Framework for the Course a. Summary of Notions/Functions b. Grammar of Choice c. Selecting Materials d. Process for gathering case studies e. Out of Class activities linking to their environment f. Evaluation tools 3) Course Schedule 4) Sample Lesson Plans 5) Reflection 6) Resources a. Survey form b. Self-assessment 7) Sources Used

1) Introduction
1a) Course Summary This course is for employees working in international technology companies located in China. They use English on a daily basis for email writing and teleconferencing but commonly express concern over communication skills. The primary goal is to help improve English performance within their immediate environment. This business focused approach derives from an understanding that their main(often sole) opportunity for English practice is in the office. Rather than a limitation, this provides them an opportunity for practice that most English learners located in China do not have. They have both specific English needs and concrete achievable goals. Necessary skills and tasks include listening, making presentations, asking/clarifying in meetings, communicating with managers, hosting international guests, etc. A motivated employee can advance themselves with promotions, managerial opportunities, the chance to participate in knowledge-shares (tech presentations), attend conferences and go abroad on business trips. These rewards are linked to both general work performance and English ability. The class will incorporate these skills and potentials directly into the class, creating as authentic practice environment as possible and capitalize on their ongoing English language encounters in the office. 1b) Student Background Students have had 7-10 years of mandatory English instruction in schoolm but the grammar focus helped create the phenomena of mute English knowledge of English language but unpracticed communication. To rebalance this, we will use a notional3

situational approach that isolates their specific communication needs. The approach will increase awareness of speaking registers and pragmatic functions and help them become more effective communicators. These students are more proficient than they themselves realize when allowed a space to explore and consolidate their own skills. Class will attempt to building their confidence and inspire them to take ownership of their communication choices. We will use complex tasks and cognitively challenging discussions to extend their general abilities as well as offer weekly extensions that encourage them to take their classroom learning back into their workplace and start noticing actual needs and opportunities to improve within their daily life. 1c) Course Goals
1) Students will identify language functions and abilities necessary to perform different aspects of their job, including: team collaboration, teleconferencing, communicating with boss, and presenting. 2) Students will distinguish between different registers of language and the pragmatic use of grammar structures and be able to use their accurately in a variety of situations 3) Students will be able to discuss opinions about a variety of work and social issues 4) Students will be able to identify their own needs and strengths as a speaker of English and office communicator. 5) Students will be able to discuss common office problems and offer their own suggests for resolving them.

2) Framework for the course

In designing this course, I approached it from a variety of perspectives all meant to improve communication in specific situations, raise awareness of speaking choices, and help connect the skills developed in training to their day-to-day communication at work. The specifics will be discussed below. 2a) A Notional-Functional Syllabus This approach places the emphasis not on teaching grammar but on specific communication roles and the necessary language functions to succeed in those situations. This will reframe learning from knowledge to usage and develop the exact skills for their real world communication. This will heighten awareness of modal meaning (certainty and attitude of the speaker) and communicative function (requests, complaints, and compliments, and a vast array of others) The N-S approach does receive valid criticism for still focusing on products rather than processes of learning, so we will be careful to emphasize processes with the students and make them aware of goals of their communication as well as combining it with more task based activities. In designing the course, I found that a major focus was on necessary work functions(particular ones based around self-expression, interpersonal skills, and directives), but that higher level notions could be selected and discussed in terms of cross-cultural comparison, granting students opportunities to develop and express opinions An analysis of the job expectations and work environment demonstrates the following Notions and Functions as essential to success in their job.

Communication Situations Office Communication



Starting, extending and ending conversation, complimenting and accepting compliments, discussing interests, asking questions interrupting Turning over tasks, asking for help, giving advice, accepting advice Disagreeing, politely discussing responsibilities and work sharing Showing level of certainty, insisting Listening, clarifying, summarizing, rephrasing, pausing, cutting off, technical issues, changing locations, signing in and out interrupting Requests , speaking about accomplishments, polite disagreement, Giving advice, answering questions Cross-cultural etiquette Repairing communication mistakes Summarizing, introducing, making transitions, Getting attention, Managing a Q+A

Small Talk, building relationships,

Team Work

Collaboration Whos pulling weight


Time wasting Efficiency What is active participation? raise, time off, kissing up, confidence and arrogance Explaining local customs, food and places Notions (description, taste, creation process) What makes a good presentation? fears

Communicating with Boss Hosting guests


2b) Grammar of Choice Grammar affords speakers of a particular language a great deal of flexibility in the ways they can express propositional, or notional, meaning and how they present themselves in the world (Larsen-Freeman 104) An important step to improving students

grammar usage is help raise awareness of their speaking choices and the consequences of those choices. A key recurring component of the training will be activities structured to raise student awareness about the effect of grammar choices on politeness, tact, agreement, assessment, and assertiveness etc. Examples of such activities are : 1) Asking students to choose between two or three forms of the same statement. 2) Assessing short dialogues for indicators of politeness and assertiveness before rewriting and acting out those dialogues 3) Role-plays and activities that allow students to try these statements, if they choose. 2c) Process for gathering case studies A key component of the training is to make students aware of how to deal with real world communication problems in a confident and professional manner. We can do this by explicitly discussing communication breakdown and brainstorming causes and solutions in effect asking students to problematize their working-life. If we want to emphasize their real communication environment, we need genuine examples and case studies that look at the challenges and situations they regularly face in their job. I have not seen any materials that accurately depict the situation of new knowledge workers embedded in the English language environment of a multinational company. We will solve this problem by using the students to generate their own cases. I will accomplish this with two components, a one-off class on Communication Breakdown designed to get students to discuss their real experiences communicating in

the workplace. Examples from this class will be collected and sorted and used throughout the course as case studies. In addition, I will ask many of my current students to complete a survey regarding their communication problems, fears, and successes. (see attached survey form in resources 6a). Before the class begins, we will have already gathered many excellent examples to discuss. But both the survey and class will be incorporated into the syllabus. Students will receive the survey as part of their self-assessment on day one and Communication Breakdown will be the subject of lesson 2, when they submit their survey/assessments. The teacher can then choose to incorporate these new situations now or into later revised classes. Hopefully, this will have the additional effect of encouraging students to bring their actual English experiences into the classroom at any time. Example Scenario: Tom, a project engineer, emailed a coworker in the US and received no reply. Because the task was urgent, he followed up with a second email, saying Did you ignore my first email? He immediately received a message from his CCed manager that this was a poor choice of words. Tom is embarrassed and needs to decide what to do next? What went wrong? How would you advice Tom to deal with this situation? (*in Chinese, ignore is often mistranslated as something closer to didnt notice, probably Toms initial mistake) 2d) Extensions

These recurring activities are designed to help students take their learning out of class and in to the office. Nervous communicators tend to create their own philosophy of save it for later learning, which prevents them from applying their new skills to their immediate surroundings and seeing results. These activities take the place of traditional homework - not usually feasible in company training. They ask the students to think about English throughout their workday and develop a sense of what English and communication mean to them. In addition, they create essential linkages between classes that serve to integrate all the skills Extensions Out of Class and in the Office Think about it students are left with an image or quote and expected to respond with thoughts and discussion in the following class Sum it Up - students are expected to prepare to summarize content and present it in the next class 2f) Evaluation Materials Institutional policy already makes use of an oral assessment before and after training. This is useful for level placement, but a serious negative of this approach is it is not connected to course content and does not provide meaningful feedback to students that would allow them to see their own results. We will perform am additional self-assessment with each student in a post class conference. The conference will first ask students to talk generally of the involvement in Hot Topic - student is asked to select a topic they find interesting/related and prepare a 2 minute informal presentation and discussion on the idea Survey - students are provided a simple survey and expected to learn the opinions of coworkers in their office and overseas Google it - students use the internet to find an article (L1 or L2) related to our discussion and summarize it(L1) in the next class A picture is worth 1000 words Students are asked to find a picture related to our theme and show it in the next class, fostering discussion

and impressions of the class. We will be using this feedback to raise their awareness as students and mine as a teacher. The second part will involve listening to a short presentation students will make during the final week of class. They will assess it for their own strengths and weaknesses. The third component will be looking at a roleplayed language function done in class (alternatively, teacher and student could roleplay a situation during the conference). We will then generally discuss how well they performed their task and their understanding of related issues. (The form is included in references 6b) 2g) Materials Selection Materials will be taken from internet and adapted to the purpose of the class. Typically I will 1) Take quotes and short paragraphs from relevant news articles and advice columns
a. ECG Link- http://ecglink.com/speakpreviews/index.html b. http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com c. http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/genera

2) Video Short movie clips and movie trailers are often shown for orienting or activity
a. http://www.hd-trailers.com b. http://www.wingclips.com/themes c. Youtube unfortunately not always reliable

3) Decent examples of relevant business dialogues were available at the following sites a. www.teachingenglish.org b. www.usingenglish.com

3) Course Syllabus
Unit 1: Introducing Workplace Communication and its unavoidable breakdown 1 The students will become familiar with each other and course objectives. In the Work Place Icebreaker Photo Description Game In the Office Teacher will introduce the course goals learning methods and ask students to comment on/add/modify those goals Greetings Students will discuss introductions. Analyze dialogues and decide the attitudes of speakers. Pairs will attempt to identify the difference between formal/informal, polite/impolite speech in English Students will then write and roleplay dialogues with different moods and motivations assigned to them. Teacher will introduce the concept of etiquette and elicit examples. Small groups will then discuss the importance of etiquette using the business etiquette situation quiz. Activate students thoughts on communication Students will read and summarize examples of office miscommunication Students will create categories list of miscommunication

Class Intro

Students will examine introduction dialogues to identify distinguishing features of formal and informal registers.

Greetings and Introductions Dialogue Analysis


The students will discuss etiquette and culture in business 2 The students will identify situations in their life when communication is complicated.

Discussion: Etiquette Quiz Communication Breakdown Orient: Video Clip

Discussion based on Guardian article

The students will discuss the importance of communication.


Students will create a scenario and 11

assign another group to act it out The students will freeform practice office situations they may find challenging Role-play Students will hold a large class discussion about solutions Out of Class Extension Think about it: Asking Questions Survey: Ask your coworkers about miscommunication Essential Skill #1 : Active Listening Orient: Office Comments/Listening Groups will read several cartoons about listening difficulties in meetings, describe the situation to another group, and explain how they relate/disagree with the situation Students will then discuss and identify problems they have while listening, giving specific examples when possible Based on problems and teacher suggestions, pairs will brainstorm strategies that may help. Then in a big group discussion, teacher will make additional suggestions. Teacher will introduce question types and their role in effective listening Pairs will use British Council Questioning and Clarifying worksheet to identify types of questions

3 The students will identify features of teleconferencing they find difficult and discuss solutions.

The students will identify the function of questions as clarifying/rephrasing etc.

Discuss: Teleconference challenges and useful solutions

Review: listening skills The student will practice those questions with each other. Lectures: Requesting, Clarification, and rephrasing strategies

Group activity: identify question functions

Pairs will then role-play a teleconference with occasional problem cards forcing them to change the situation Think about it: Are questions ok? How can you use these in your life? Will you?

Role-play: a teleconference


Extension 4 The students will decide what makes a good presentation. Essential Skill #2: Presenting (not just speeches you also use it in conversation) Orienting Collectively Mind Map Presentations Discussion Students will present on what makes a quality presentation Students will watch video Steve Jobs Presentation Tips And take notes while listening. Students will be provided a collection of recent headlines and short articles. Groups will be asked to read the article, identify key information and form opinions. Teacher and students will agree upon the evaluation metric for presentations, based on discussion. Students will make their presentations and then collectively critique Teacher will introduce Hot Topic short presentation for future classes and the final presentation assessment Preview Photo: Encourage students to bring a photo of an office activity, team photo, etc.

The students will practice listening and note taking skills.



The students will prepare a short presentation and identify their own needs.



Unit 2: Coworkers Interpersonal Skills and cross-cultural communication 5 Small Talk Tact and Building Working Relationships


The students will practice methods of extending and ending conversation politely.

Orient: Team photos

Students will briefly introduce their experiences working in a team. Students will describe and discuss behavior seen in video

Costanza Videos techniques for getting out of conversation The student will discuss the role of small talk in the office Activity: Role-play and differing attitudes of friendship and report their feelings. Discussion and brainstorm examine and adapt dialogues for tact The students will analyze profiles and perform matchmaking

Students will create a role-play based on an exaggerated office situation then explain the scenario to the class. Teacher will introduce tact and ask students to suggest scenarios when it may to necessary Teachers will analyze profiles and decide characters into teams and explain their reasoning

Task: Matchmaker

6 The students will express their feelings about collaborative work environments and teams

Sharing Assignments - Responsibility, Slacking off and Passing the Buck Orient: Quotes Examine positive, negative, and comedic quotes about teamwork and create definition Scenario problem solving: The students will read real case studies (Bings and Kais) and discuss possible solutions. Solutions will then be presented/acted to the class Students will discuss and suggest phrases and techniques that make communication easier. Students will analyze a negotiation script and comment on the forcefulness of students words Students will design and propose a teambuilding activity based on the specifics requirements in task, then present.

The students will problemsolve common workplace situations and practice offering solutions.

Role-play Discussion: insisting and defending Dialogue analysis: Negotiation

The students will recognize and express apology and insistence in appropriate forms.

Task :Team Building


7 Students will discuss strategies for politely disagreeing and insisting on things.

Disagreeing and giving bad news Orient: Video Clip Cosby Show Students will watch a video clip where both characters want the same thing, then discuss how they would solve the situation. Small groups will brainstorm similar situations likely to occur in their society, then act them out and comment on the use of language Small groups will review strategies for politely insisting on things, then provide short examples and read them with emotion. Case Study: Nosy Coworker, talking about salary. Students will hold a discussion about salaries in the workplace.

Students will practice polite insistence and discuss when it is ok. Students will debate the role of secrets in the workplace.

Role-play : create a similar scenario but resolve it differently Language Discussion: How to politely say what you want Role-play: Giving someone bad news(focus on tone) Case Study: Maxs Situation: keeping salary secret Discussion: The Little White Lie

8 Students will workshop hosting an international guest by discussing tourism in china and role-playing the role of a host answering appropriate questions. Students will discuss real experiences with foreign coworkers and any questions/concerns they have about visitors

Representing your Culture Hosting the International Guest Orient: Photo Description Groups will examine photos of a visit to China and describe what they see Students will design a 1-week tour of Chengdu for an overseas coworker based on specifics of their personality Student will role-play host and guest, with guest using a series of pre-generated questions to challenge students explanatory ability.

Task: Planning a tour

Role-play: Ask and Answer Discuss and Conclude Howd it go? Unit 3: Bosses


9 Students will discuss typical relationships with a boss and identify what type of boss they prefer.

Managing Up/ Flattery Orient: movie Trailer : Swimming with Sharks Mind Map Discussion: Bosses Students will watch and retell a movie clip. Does everyone hate their boss? Groups will create a mind map about bosses. What makes one good? What style do you prefer? Students will read and discuss two case studies about boss interactions and plan advice for the fictional employees Students will watch the video Managing Up and practice listening skills, summarizing the content.

Student will discuss a Small Group Discussion: how situation someone has with a to deal with different types of boss and suggest solutions. bosses Students will role-play talking to a boss. Case study: Terrys story Janes Story Video: Managing up

Students will debate the merits of kissing up 10 Students will discuss the concept of Job satisfaction and what factors contribute to it. Students will discuss the importance of promotion opportunities

Debate: Kissing Up

Stand your ground - Defending your work and getting a promotion Orient: News Clip Job Satisfaction Students will watch news clip and summarize opinions

Discuss: How important is room for growth Good Employee/Bad Employee Small group project: Who would you promote Role-play: Task : Handling the troublesome employee(adapted from Market Leader chapter 5)

Small groups will discuss factors in job satisfaction and report opinions. Students will discuss what kind of employee they would promote, then compare candidate profiles and explain decision. Students will write short speeches about why they deserve promotion Students will read through an extensive scenario and complete the task of deciding how the company should deal with the situation

Students will discuss which type of employees get promoted an role-play discussing their strengths Students will take the managers position to consider 11

Workshop it Getting hired for a job you love


Students will identify key characteristics of good companies and employees

Orient: Video Clip : The Pursuit of Happyness

Students watch and discuss a clip of a job interview Teacher introduces topic, today will be an extensive look at interviewing. Students should identify how someone should behave in a interview Pairs look at job adds and identify which they prefer. They will mind map what skills and experiences are necessary for their Pairs read dialogues from job interviews and discuss the candidates use of language. Groups will discuss a real scenario, two coworkers have chance to apply for same position.

Students will take on the roles of bosses and potential employees and effectively communicate their advantages.

Small Groups: Comparing jobs Mind Map : Skills and Experiences Small Group Discussion : Individual Strengths and Weaknesses Analyze a dialogue(how to say it)

Students will discuss competing with coworkers for the same job Unit 4: Teleconference Hell 12 Students will practice strategies for politely complaining.

Case Study

Discussing an issue soft statements Orient: Rude vs. Polite Small Discussion: Review keys to a polite discussion Lecture: Soft statements, letting people down easy Groups will be given lines. They will read them and explain why they are rude or polite Teacher will introduce the idea of saying things in a soft way Groups: Identify situations that where these may be useful. Give examples Students will generate lists of companies that tend to give bad service and create scenarios. Role-play Complaining to a company Some students will then practice politely complaining to groups of students that play management. We will discuss the language used and how real companies should 17

Students will practice strategies for politely calming other people down.


Students will discuss when these skills are necessary in their lives.

solve this situation. Review: use this in your working life 13 Students discuss their feelings about meetings. Students will identify and report strategies for holding an effective meeting. Lead the meeting Orient: Cartoons about meetings Small Discussion: Complaints Discussion: What makes a meeting effective? Students will read office comics about meetings and discuss their own feelings. They will list complaints about Small groups will read and present opinions on techniques for making presentations more efficient. Traffic debate. After a warm-up discussion about traffic problems in Chengdu, students will attempt a complex meeting role-play. Students will play members of a city council. They will receive goals and attitudes to portray. Chairpersons will be responsible for keeping meeting smooth. Students will complement each other on performance in meeting and then discuss own opinions. Briefly review use in real life

Students will review roles chairperson must take during a meeting.

Role-play Meetings : City Council Traffic situation.

Students will hold an extending role-play of a meeting and practice the identified skills. 14 Students will discuss presenting information in a meeting. Students will practice presenting information in a clear and concise way. Students will critique the structure of a product presentation dialogue.

Post Role-play Discussion Workshop it : a knowledge share Orient: Tech ads Small Discussion: Brand Preference Presenting information to your coworkers Small Group: Critique Product Presentation Prepare a small group product presentation. Listeners Question

Student will read and comment on ads for tech products. Students will discuss their favorite technology brands and persuade each other about their advantages Small groups will read sample presentations and critique them, Students will choose or invent a product and prepare a short presentation about the product. Students will debate Apples decision to sell low-end iPhones.

Students will debate a tech companies decisions.

Debate: Apples Company Direction


Unit 5: Tying it all up 15 Students will make their final presentation. Presentations 2 Presenting Each student will have the opportunity to make their final presentation in allotted time. Their presentation should incorporate questions for the audience. The audience will also be expected to ask questions to presenters

Students will watch the presentations and ask presenters questions.

Questions for audience

Audience questions 16 Students will identify what they have gained from class.

Goals Concerns, Communication Problem Solving: making English part of your life Students will identify what they Discussion: have gained from class Students will express further concerns with English learning Pairs will create a sample plan for how they can continue learning English Last Chance for Questions Lateral Thinking Puzzles Movie Trailer activities Or additional games of interest to students.

Students will discuss further concerns and create a plan for future development. General Q+A Students will have fun. Game Time:


4) Sample Lesson Plans In this section, I have included four lesson plans, comprising the first unit of the class. I have conceived of this unit as introducing the class concept how goals influence the way we talk, exploring the types of communication problems students are likely to face, and establishing principles for two key skills that will be used in activities throughout the rest of the class as well as within their own workplace active listening and presentation skills.

Class #1: In The Office

The students will become familiar with each other and course objectives. Students will examine introduction dialogues to identify distinguishing features of formal and informal registers. The students will discuss etiquette and culture in business.

Course Material
Teacher created PowerPoint and handouts. Whiteboard will be used. Handout #1 will include several basic Greeting Dialogues found online. Handout #2 will include What if etiquette scenarios in quiz form.

Orienting Activity:
Class will begin with an extended warm-up game, giving students a chance to become comfortable and teacher a chance to informally evaluate their relative abilities. The teacher will display photos on the projector screen. A student with his back to the image will have to guess it based on classmates descriptions. Eventually class will be broken into teams to compete over which team can guess images the fastest. Images will have two themes, office place and weekend pastimes. I include a short sample below.








Lesson Agenda
Teacher will introduce the course goals learning methods and ask students to comment on/add/modify those goals.
We will focus on workplace communication We want to deal with the type of problems you typically face while work We want to develop confidence in communicating in many different situations, including holding meetings, talking to bosses, sending emails, etc. This includes not just what to say, but how to say it. All communication includes miscommunication, so we want to discuss problem solving various situations

Activity #1 Students will discuss typically greetings they know and attempt to make sense of when and where to use them Display:
Typical English Chapter #1 Hello, how are you? Im fine thank you, and you?

Ask students what they think of that dialogue. Why might it be less than ideal? Have them work in pairs to list as many greetings as they know. Their ideas can be added to teachers list


How are you? Hows it going? Hows things? Its a pleasure to meet you. How do you do? -

Whats up? Whats going on? Whats new?

Pairs will then identify appropriate responses (often confusion about how to answer Whats up questions), and sort them into formal and informal categories. Students will have the opportunity to discuss any persistent questions that they have.

Activity #2 Dialogue Analysis

Groups will be given several simple greetings dialogues. They will first read them together and then analyze them. Are they formal or informal? How do the individuals feel? Dialogue #1 taken from http://esl.about.com/od/beginningreadingskills/a/d_busy.htm

Barbara: Hi, Katherine, how are you today? Katherine: I'm great and you? Barbara: VERY busy! I'm jogging now, but later I have to do a lot! Katherine: What do you have to do? Barbara: Well, first of all, I have to do the shopping. We don't have anything to eat at home. Katherine: ... and then? Barbara: Little Johnny has a basketball game this afternoon. I'm driving him to the game. Katherine: Oh, how is his team doing? Barbara: They're doing very well. Next week, they're travelling to Toronto for a tournament. Katherine: That's impressive. Barbara: Well, Johnny likes playing basketball. I'm happy he's enjoying it. What are you doing today? Katherine: I'm not doing much. I'm meeting some friends for lunch, but, other than that, I don't have much to do today. Barbara: You're so lucky! Katherine: No, you're the lucky one. I'd like to have so many things to do.


Dialogue #2 taken from: http://www.talkenglish.com/LessonDetails.aspx?ALID=522

Person A: "Andy, it's been a long time, how are you man?" Person B: "What a surprise. I haven't seen you in a long time. How have you been?" Person A: "Do you come to this restaurant often?" Person B: "I've been here a couple of times, but I don't come on a regular basis." Person A: "what have you been up to?" Person B: "The same old same old." Or, "The same as usual. How about you?" Person A: "I'm pretty busy at work these days, but otherwise, everything is great."

Students will then rewrite and role-play dialogues with different moods and motivations assigned to them. They should be given an option to create/change the scenarios if they wish.
In a hurry Dont want to see him Owes him money Feeling ill today

Roleplays will finish with a discussion of how the attitudes and moods influenced the language and their ability to effectively communication feelings.

Discussion: Etiquette Quiz

Teacher will introduce the concept of etiquette and elicit examples. Small groups will then discuss the importance of etiquette using the business etiquette situation quiz. Write the word Etiquette on the whiteboard. Ask student for definition and gi ve examples if they cannot provide one. Ask students when etiquette is important and how they feel about it Provide groups with What if Etiquette Situation Quiz. They will discuss and decide answers together. Make sure students know there is no right answer. Several examples are included below.
You're invited to a reception and the invitation states "7:00 to 9:00 PM." You should arrive: a. at 7:00 PM b. anytime between 7:00 PM and 9:00 PM


c. between 7:00 PM and 7:30 PM d. go early and leave early You're greeting or saying good-bye to someone. When's the proper time to shake their hand? a. When you're introduced b. At their home c. At their office d. On the street e. When you say good-bye When you greet a visitor in your office, do you: a. say nothing and let her sit where she wishes? b. tell her where to sit? c. say "Just sit anywhere" You've forgotten a lunch with a business associate. You feel terrible and know he's furious. Do you: a. Write a letter of apology? b. Send flowers? c. Keep quiet and hope he forgets about it? d. Call and set up another appointment?


Class #2: Communication Breakdown

Students will discuss communication and communication problems as it relates to their workplace Students will offer solutions to common communication problems Students will discuss what can be done to improve the situation

Course Material
Teacher created PowerPoint and handouts. Whiteboard will be used. Most of this material is adapted from UK Guardian


Orienting Activity:
Students will watch the following video clip showing a miscommunication. Students will discuss the following questions: 1) What happened in the clip? 2) What do you think might happen next? 3) How could they resolve it?

Lesson Agenda :
-Ask students what we will be discussing today. -On PowerPoint, Show this text and quote
Slide 1: Talking is not something that most of us find difficult. Days at the office are filled with all sorts of conversations. From chats by the coffee machine to presentations in meetings, we discuss ideas, projects, worries and what was on TV last night. Communication is an essential part of office life - so in some ways it's surprising that so many of us do it so badly, and that it causes so many problems in the workplace. Slide 2: "Miscommunication is without doubt the root of most problems and misunderstandings in the office"

Ask opinions

Show the following sentence on ppt:

All too often people don't say what they really mean - in many companies people find it hard to be honest for fear of how their boss will react.

Activity #1: Small Group discussion

In groups, students will be given one of the following text excerpts. They will be responsible for reading it and discussing it before explaining it to a different group.
1) Duncan Green knows all about these kind of difficulties. "When I became the manager I learned fast that your staff doesnt always tell you the whole truth which can make things extremely complicated. I've had a member of my team, Jack, come and complain that someone wasn't pulling their weight 26

on a project they had been given. When I investigated, it became clear that he had complained out of feelings of resentment that he hadn't been put onto the project himself." 2) "I've also had misunderstandings with colleagues. Sometimes I may work jointly on a project with another department. We've had mix ups about completion dates, about who has what area of responsibility. It can be so frustrating. I always try to be clear about what role my department is taking - and what I expect from the other team - but somehow the message doesn't always get through."

Summarize it Who was the miscommunication between? Could this happen in your company? What could be done to avoid it?

Activity #2 : Categories Small Groups

In groups list all possible types of miscommunication. You can use Real situations or make them up. We will see who has most and vote as a class on 1) Funniest 2) Most important/interesting

The boss

Your coworker

The other team

Activity #3 Roleplay:
Each group has 5 minutes to create a miscommunication scenario for another group to act out. When your scenario is created, please give it to another group. They will have five minutes to prepare and then act it out


Discussion #2
-Show the following text on a ppt:
There are techniques for getting to the bottom of the situation.

Ask the students : Like what? Give them a chance to list their own ideas.

The following quotes will be shown on the big screen. "It's important to create a space for people to talk - really talk and to do that you have to
cultivate a relationship where people feel they can be honest. Have lunch with them or coffee in the canteen. If you don't take time to listen, you won't get an accurate impression of the situation - and in the end you'll suffer for it." Its always worth checking that the other person has heard and understood what you said. "Think of your conversation as a two way communication between a speaker and a listener. "The speaker is responsible to make sure their message is understood and a good way to do this is ask the listener to summarize. In this way, any misunderstandings will become clear and can be ironed out straight away."

Engage students in a discussion Safe spaces which are the best and worst places to talk? Who is really responsible for accurate communication?

Extension: Questions
The easiest way to avoid misunderstandings is to ask questions, but this isn't always easy. "Meetings and conversations can often go on for ages and its impossible to remember everything that's been said. Its always a good idea to ask for a recap or a summary, or for a clearer explanation. Asking questions is central to human nature, but I think it gets knocked out of us in school most of us can remember feeling foolish if we put our hand up to ask a question.

On powerpoint:
If you don't remember anything else . Listening to what people say doesn't necessarily mean you're hearing the truth. Take time to ask questions, to show that you're interested, to ensure that your understanding of a situation is correct. Students will be left with two out-of-class activities. Think about it: Can you provide a communication situation that troubled you(or someone else) in the past? How did you solve it? Is there an ongoing trouble situation? (A difficult boss. Lazy coworker. Fast talker. Quiet coworker.) Can you explain the situation so we can brainstorm a solution? Survey: Conduct a short survey with coworkers (ask 2-3 people if you are comfortable) 1) When do they find it most difficult to communicate(in English or Chinese)? 2) What do they do in those situations?


Class 3: Essential Skills #1: Active Listening

The students will identify features of teleconferencing they find difficult and discuss solutions. The students will identify the function of questions as clarifying/rephrasing etc. The student will practice those questions with each other and attempt to use them in a realistic role-play scenario

Course Material
Teacher created PowerPoint and handouts. Whiteboard will be used. Handout #1 will analyze questions types, taken from usingenglish.com


Orienting Activity:
Students will read several cartoons about listening difficulties in meetings, describe the situation to another group, and explain how they relate/disagree with the situation Example:


Discussion #1
Teacher will ask students to discussion and identify problems that occur in listening situations(teleconferences, in person, etc.). Students will be encouraged to give specific examples when possible. Based on problems and teacher suggestions, pairs will brainstorm strategies that may help. Then in a big group discussion, teacher will make additional suggestions.

Teacher will present the idea of question roles, providing examples of each and how they are used. During lecture, students will be asked to create additional examples of Request for repeat Clarifying Rechecking/rephrasing Echoing Probing Hypothetical At lecture end, pairs will be asked to provide one example of a question and a situation in which it can be used.

Activity #1
Groups will receive handout on functions of questions Sample Worksheet adapted from British Council (teachingenglish.org.uk) Types of question Match these types of question with the examples in bold.Write numbers (110) in the boxes. Some examples may go with more than one type of question. Which of these questions might be dangerous? 1. A: We were thinking in terms of six months. B: Six months? A: Well, er, maybe we could manage five months. 2. So let me check Ive understood you correctly. Are you saying that would be

impossible, or just difficult? 3. You mentioned an exclusivity clause. Can you expand on that? What exactly did you have in mind? 4. You said you dont manufacture in batches of less than 10. Just thinking aloud now, what if there was a way for us to guarantee to buy, say, 20 units over the next three years? Would that work for you? 5. Sorry, was that 13 or 30? 6. So when you say youre looking for a price of around $200, am I right in assuming theres some room for manoeuvre there? 7. Can I ask how you arrived at that figure? 8. Youre offering us 10% now and the remaining 10% on completion. Is that right? 9. A: We need to allow at least a week for unexpected delays. B: Unexpected delays? A: Yes, you know, like illnesses, accidents, that kind of thing. 10. Im a little confused about the after-sales support you mentioned. What exactly would that involve? Echo questions Checking questions

Probing questions Part #2

Hypothetical questions

Look at this extract from a negotiation between supplier of aerosol and a large potential customer. Find examples of the following three functions: clarifying, summarising andresponding. Supplier: OK, so thanks for presenting your position. Let me just got through the notes Ive been making, to check Ive understood everything correctly. In terms of quantity, you said you can only commit to 6,000 units as an initial order. That does pose some problems for us, as Ill explain in a second, but Im

sure well be able to find a solution. You mentioned that there may be more orders in the future, but you dont want to commit to anything at this stage. Is that right? And the reason for your hesitation here is that you need to make sure we can deliver on our promises with the first batch, in terms of quality. Have I understood that correctly? OK, good. Then you talked about payment terms of 90 days. That could be a real sticking point, because we normally never offer more than 30, and even then its only for our biggest regular customers. So thats something well need to discuss carefully. You also asked for a 25% discount on our list price, which Im afraid isnt realistic. We may be able to work out a discount during this negotiation, but it really will depend on what we agree on all the other factors. Finally, you talked about delivery dates. You say you would need the first batch of 2,000, was it? Within two weeks of signature? OK, so again, this could be difficult it would mean moving around some of our other orders, and obviously there are cost implications of that. Right is there anything Ive missed? No, OK, so let me set out our offer, and lets see if we can reach an agreement. Pairs will then discuss their wiliness to use questions in different situations. We will bridge into a large group discussion about the validity of asking questions.

Pairs of students will practice a teleconference. The scenario is scheduling a team conference. In order to complete the task, they must establish the location, number of attendees, itinerary, entertainment and lunch menu. While performing the role-play, they will have to deal with problem cards given to each student. Problem Cards (adapted from UsingEnglish.com) You have problems hearing You cant identify who is speaking You need to temporarily hang up You want to speed up the meeting. You will need to change conferences room The phone signal isnt clear You dont understand something

You need to email a document Their suggestion wont work for you.

You want to ask for a restroom break Disagree politely

You need to have it repeated 3 times before you understand. You want to speed up the meaning

Review and Extension:

Students will discuss their feelings about asking questions. Have they changed? What additional problems do they foresee? Pairs of students will discuss a plan they can use at work to attempt to improve their listening.


Class 4: Essential Skills #2: Presentations

Students will discuss when they use presentations in their life. Students will identify the characteristics of a good presentation. Students will watch a video on presenting, practice note-taking skills, and summarize the content. Students will summarize a news article, identify core information, and present their opinions to the class Students will evaluate and identify their own strengths/weaknesses as presenters.

Class Materials
Whiteboard, PowerPoint, handouts of news articles, and a video

Write presentation on the board.

Students will collectively create a mind map Situations, Types, Feelings, Embarrassment, Good, Common Mistakes, etc. (keep it free form).

Ask pairs to prepare a brief presentation about presentations that answers the following questions: o What makes them good and what should be avoided?

Video activity: Listening with Note-taking

Ask students for the ideas of who are great presenters(Even money says they guess Steve Jobs) Students will then watch video Steve Jobs Presentation Tips Tell them to take notes, particular any text that appears on the screen Ask them what we learned from the video. Anything new? Do they Disagree with tips?

Activity: Article Summarizing and Presenting

Students will be provided a collection of recent headlines and short articles. Groups will be asked to read the article, identify key information and present it to class with opinions. For this class the articles are:
Hotels in Maldives accused of turning off hot water so Chinese Tourists cant eat Instant Noodles Local Government accused of Painting Grass Green

Before Presentation,
Display short evaluation metric. Ask students if they agree with criteria. Should anything be added?



Students will be given 4 minutes to present. I will encourage other groups to ask questions Presenters will then be asked to evaluate themselves before receiving feedback from class and instructor.

Ask students how they felt. Are there any common problems?

Conclusion and Extension:

Remind them we will be making presentations regularly in class. Some will be formal and some informal. Near the end of the course, everyone will be asked to prepare one talk.

Out of Class activities:

Think about it: Who is the best presenter that you know? (coworker, boss, friend?) You dont have to say who but what makes them good? Preview Photo: Encourage students to bring a photo of an office activity, team photo, etc. as we will begin discussing office relations and interpersonal communication functions next class.


5) Reflection This was harder than I thought it would be. I stared at the syllabus for long stretches of time before it was all through. Im still not completely satisfied, but I do think it is a dramatic improvement over classes Ive taught in the past. The syllabus is far more integrated than before (although not perfect by far). I see it as a good start. Ive managed to use some tasks and activities Ive done before but also find and invent some new approaches. Im quite happy with my case studies and dialogue analysis although I need to refine both approaches. Previously, Id evaluate myself by saying I was a great designer of activities, a good designer of classes, and have to admit that I was a poor designer of courses. This has helped me connect my course through the weeks, creating focus and continuity that I feel serves the students. I feel less helpless about the limited contact time I have to improve students English, as I feel more gets done and I leave them with more. Additionally this design process was something I wouldnt have felt myself good at before, see myself as a haphazard planner/brain-stormer that adds structure as an afterthought, but this was a successful attempt for me. Big to small organizing process led to more activities. I also think I understand my students better. We are providing training to help students in their day to day struggles in an English language company environment, yet we dont link our training to their work, and students too are unaccustomed to this approach. The course has been effective at bringing work issues to the surface without embarrassing students in the classroom. I see I could still do better. The survey form had mixed results, students simply couldnt come up with examples(a problem I completely understand), I need to further revise the form with better

questions. Using class to generate examples was fairly effective, although I would space it out through several classes in the future and consider dispensing with class #2. Ive also taken to requesting students keep a English notebook in their workstation to jot down problems and questions as they arise. Although overall proud with the affect this approach has had on the classroom, I think one thing I could do different is to select sections of the current syllabus and redevelop and expand them into more comprehensive units. Many of the functions I listed were never discussed in detail. I will do that in the future, but this serves as a good starting point for further class design along the same lines. As things are, I dont always get the chance to do long classes. Ive already started using this syllabus with one client, but in truncated form (5 weeks ten classes total.)


6) Questionnaire
Name________ My primary role is_______________ English Attitudes My greatest strength(s) in English are __________________ My main concerns are______________________________One of our main goals is to help people deal with real communication challenges and becoming comfortable with intercultural communication. To do this, we need real examples of experiences using English in the workplace. Please take the time to provide any stories you feel appropriate. Your answers will be kept secret. I am extremely grateful for your help and hope this material can also help you .


My two main goals for this English training are to: 1) 2) I use English to. ( please rank importance of tasks) Send emails phone meetings in the office Call clients Talk to my boss Negotiate Chat on messenger Make small talk

Do you have any specific concerns regarding the above tasks? ______________________________________________________________________

Please rank 1-5 how comfortable you feel(would feel) in the following situations o Giving a technical talk o Listening in a teleconference o Reporting status during a meeting o requesting something from your boss o There is a dispute over responsibility for a project o An international coworker visits for a week Do you have any comments about the above situations?: ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ What part of your job would you like to do better?

Have you ever had a communication problem at work?_______________________________________________________________


6b) Post Class Conference and assessment form

Part 1 - General Impressions How would you rate your level of engagement in class? Active effort? Found it meaningful? Challenging but not difficult? What would you say was the biggest benefit you received from our training? Can you give an example of where it has (or could ) impact your work? Do you feel you met your goals as stated in the first session? (review initial survey with them) 4 Exceeded own expectations of what could be learned and done in this training 3 Decently met with own expectations for performance 2 Does not feel they did as well as they could have in meeting their goals 1 Little or no real effort because class didnt fit them or otherwise occupied

Part 2 Assessing presentation At this point we could listen to a section of their speech themselves and ask them to talk about that performance What would you say was good about your organization? 4 Well structured with clear topic and good transistions. Easy to follow 3 Clear topic and transistions but could have been improved in some ways 2 Presence of a structure, but not obvious to audience, perhaps lost them at some points 1 Poorly structured and hard to follow

How would you evaluate your fluency? 4 Use of fluid speech and inflection that keeps the audiences 3 Satisfactory use of inflection, and decent but inconsistent fluid speech 2 Some inflection, some pauses 1 Lack of inflection and unfluid speech


attention How would you evaluate your pacing? 4 Covered the topic in detail within the time interval 3 Some portion was either rushed or overly long 2 Pacing goes somewhat negatively affect presentation 1 Serious problem with length of presentation, either to long or short

How would you evaluate your body language? (if I can fairly video tape their activities) 4 Confident, expressive, and useful in making point 3 Some use of movement but not as much as desired 2 Lack of expressiveness and movement 1 No noticeable expressiveness and movement

How do you effectively covered your topic for the audience? What were you thinking about feeling at the time? Part 3 assessing roleplay This will be a more freeform assessment of the performance. Teacher should engage students understanding of the necessary skills and discuss matters surrounding the demonstrated situation.


Larsen-Freeman, D. "The Grammar of Choice." In New Perspectives on Grammar, (Eds.), Hinkel, E. & Fotos, S. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.