Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Instant role-plays

Here's a quick technique I used last week with my business English students. We're using Business Benchmark (CUP), just getting to the end of unit 1, where there's a BEC-style speaking task:

Your company has decided it needs to provide more training for staff. You have been asked to help prepare a staff training programme. Discuss the situation together and decide ...
And there's a few pointers to guide our discussion. This is, as I say, a typical BEC speaking exam task, so the author is right to leave it very open. But I wanted to make it less exam-oriented and more structured.

So ... before the role-play, I wrote the following on the board:
  • Country
  • Company
  • Products/services
  • Employees
  • Problems
 ... and then started eliciting. A few years ago when I tried this technique before we ended up with an Icelandic company which made ice-cream. This time it was less exciting: a Spanish company making big trucks and fire engines. Their employees, according to my students, included sales staff, technical staff and production staff. The company's problems included poor quality, cheap overseas competition (guess which country) and poor staff morale.

OK, so with that quick elicitation done, my students are ready for a much more productive and entertaining role-play. It always works well and often generates lots of laughs.


  1. I'm going to try this with one of my intermediate business English classes next week. Great idea -- thanks.

  2. Glad you like it, Neil. Let us know how it goes next week.



  3. I liked the elicitation technique.