Here is an activity I designed for a ‘meetings in English’ workshop held at a retail company’s headquarters.
The purpose of the workshop was to practise the skills and language learners need to participate effectively in a meeting.
Lesson time: 1.5 hours
RESOURCE: Meeting Expressions
Warmer: To start I showed the video Conference call in real life by Tripp and Tyler. As a group we discussed the different problems the meeting participants experienced and related them to our own experiences.
Presentation: Next, I wrote up the following headings on the board: presenting your idea, agreeing, disagreeing, interrupting.
I then elicited expressions for these different functions. When ideas ran dry I gave participants a copy of the ‘Meeting Expressions’ sheet and checked the language with them.
Practice: As participants were from different departments (accounting, merchandising, marketing) I decided to start with a general role-play:
To thank the employees for their hard work, the CEO has given the staff committee €10,000 to spend
1. Decide how you want to spend the money and make notes about your arguments.
Some ideas: language lessons, team-building events (bowling, restaurant etc.), gym memberships, help with childcare costs, improve the canteen…
The workshop was aimed at employees who do not have regular English lessons so I anticipated that participants might be a little shy.
Adi Rajan resolved the problem of limited participation by giving learners function cards to use during a discussion exercise. Inspired by Adi’s idea, I gave each participant four cards to use at least once during the discussion: Q (question) P (present your idea) I (interrupt) D (disagree). This worked very well, and meant that learners were more inclined to interrupt and disagree without feeling judged by their colleagues.
Production: I introduced another scenario, this time one that was more relevant to the reality of the company.
The subject of the second meeting was ‘How can we improve customer service in our stores’.
Participants used the language acquired in the previous exercise to argue for their idea and reach a final decision.