Presenting your workplace to the world

The lesson plan in this post was inspired by a conversation I had with two C1 level learners I teach in an aeronautical company. They´re both managers in the mechanical engineering department in their company; one is head of industrial engineering there and the other is responsible for the milling shop. We had a very long discussion about what English people like them actually need, and this proved to be a very interesting conversation, both for me and for them. This type of dialogue seems to be one that we often don´t engage in often enough, don´t initiate frequently enough, or perhaps one that we are keen to have at the start of the course, but then don´t think about repeating. Here´s a summary of some of the most interesting insights they shared with me:

  • They don´t need to know all the words, just the most important ones!
  • They need vocabulary which is useful in the field where industry meets business, e.g. the language of SAP, and words like cost centre, working plan,  and work´s council ,and to feel confident about using them.
  • They need to be able to process a contract in English and communicate with sub-contractors in English.
  • They need to be able to explain abbreviations and other terminology in simpler language for their international colleagues.
  • They need to be able to understand the English interfaces on some new machines that they have and the terms used in some new  software packages.

One point that they kept coming back to though, was the fact that a lot of the time when they´re communicating in English at work it is in order to perform a public relations role for their company, which could be described as a “global player”. They have to present the public image of their company to the many visitors who come to their department from all over the world. Some of these visitors are colleagues from other European sites, some are customers, some are suppliers, others are simply interested in and want to find out more about the work that they´re doing, for example, government officials. Here they´re not only communicating in English they´re also doing what you could public relations or, even sales, work in English, which each require distinct skill sets.

I, therefore, decided to create some tailored materials for the learners in this group to help them meet these communication challenges and I also created some materials for learners working in an industrial environment and who are at a lower level (B1 to be exact)  to get them to reflect on their experiences of giving tours of their workplace, consider how they would deal with future requests to give tours and, finally, to prepare a crib sheet for future tours which they can adapt and reuse. Incorporated into the lesson plan is also a grammar focus, which looks at the use of the zero, first and second conditionals in this context.

You can download the lesson plan here.

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