Wbs Mönchengladbach

It was a very enjoyable and productive fortnight in Mönchengladbach at another WBS centre. As always it was a group with mixed abilities, but they all were very positive and proactive.
I took over for 2 weeks from another trainer, preparing the group for the ICCI level 1 with the exception of two ss who were doing the level 2.

Monday 26th.

I began the first session by introducing myself and telling the ss a little about myself. I then got the ss, in pairs, to interview each other then introduce their partner to the group. Whilst each person gave their introduction I asked the ss to take notes about each person for the next exercise. I then gave clues (in positive and negative forms) like “this person has been to Brazil”, “this person does not live in Mönchengladbach”, and the aim was for the ss to guess who I was talking about.
Due to the course concentrating on Business English, I split the class into groups of 3, and I chose the groups myself. The next task was to design a company, to give something for all future correspondences etc to identify to. We began with a session of ´Brainstorming´ using a web diagram on the board; we talked about different factors, words and phrases used in setting up a new business. Then in their groups they came up with a business idea, I micro-taught with each group giving them suggestions and helping with vocabulary. Once they established their idea I asked them to create a logo and a flyer, which they then presented to the group. It was a very good first day with all taking part without too much persuasion.

Tuesday 27th

I began with a warm up exercise; we had a game of Pictionary on the white board. The ss each took their turn to draw something on the board (office related), the rest of the class had to guess what it was. As well as guessing what it was they had to correctly spell it.

I then checked ss understanding of the question words which I elicited by linking it to their products i.e. Who would buy your product? When will your shop be open? How much will the product cost?

We then looked at market research, starting with customer profile. I explained the things we have to look at when deciding what our target customer will be:

Age Range
Family status
Luxury or necessary product
How and why will they use it
Benefit of the product
Payment methods

Once they all had an understanding of each of these categories they went into their ´company´ groups and discussed who might be their target customer.
As an entire group we discussed what each company had decided and other students asked questions, it was a very interactive session. With this information I explained how it can assist us with advertising. We spoke about different forms of media from publications and the internet to spam and product placement. The group discussed each company and which media would be most suitable and appropriate. I gave them a market research and advertising ´vocab´ handout which listed words, phrases and abbreviations used in these areas. We went through these words and the ss translated into German.
To finish the day I asked them to plan and design their advertising campaign to launch their product and company. Which again in their groups they presented the ideas they came up with, and again a very interactive session with lots of discussion.

Wednesday 28th

Today we began with a ´warm-up´ which was a crossword which had a mixture of clues in English and German; if the clue was in English then the answer was in German and vice versa.
The first actual exercise of the day was based on Telephone skills in business, which I had prepared a work sheet with exercises based on polite terms, leaving and taking messages and common idioms used on the phone.
I then got the group to work in pairs and write a dialogue of a typical telephone conversation, I then got them to do some role-play. They sat back to back and acted out their dialogue, after each I asked the whole group to point out mistakes and how they thought it would be better.

Next we discussed the process of ordering goods from the point of the first enquiry to the delivery. We then started on our first letter, a letter of enquiry. First I gave them a diagram with boxes just to show the structure of a typical business letter, each box had a title which I explained their meanings. I gave them a handout which listed typical phrases and vocabulary, including the correct salutation/complimentary close. I then gave them a worksheet with a letter which was jumbled and they restructured it. On the handout there was an exercise to write their own letter of enquiry using the given company name, address, product, and introduction. I went round the group one by one, micro teaching and explaining to help them create a perfect letter.

We ended the day with a brainstorming session about travelling.

Thursday 29th

The warm-up today was a word search based on professions; it had 15 different professions hidden which they had to find. We then discussed each job title to make sure everyone understood, because things like chef in English confuse some German people because of its false friend for ´Boss´. Everyone said if and why they would or would not like to do each of the jobs.

The next session began with me showing the group the video by Beyonce, ´If I were a boy´. I then gave them the lyrics on a sheet which I read to them slowly and clearly and explained anything they didn’t understand. I then explained to them the song was based on the second conditional, and explained to them on the board the structure of the If +Main clause. To check their understanding I set them the task to create their own sentences using different subjects and verbs, which was no great problem for most. As they all seemed to grasp this quite well I went through all the other conditionals with them.

For the rest of the day we fell back to their advertising campaign and each company designed a flyer or poster concentrating on the information not the artwork.

Friday 30th

By request we started today with another session of Pictionary, the topic was countries.

The first exercise was to write a CV in English. I explained the basic rules i.e. keep it relevant, short and sweet, structure, headings and useful words and phrases. I handed them an example CV which had a clear format and was a good ways of eliciting phrases and words used to make a dynamic CV. We also talked about the differences between the English and German CV. For instance in Germany you have to supply a photo and add the date of birth, whereas in England this is optional.
Each student then created their own, which I helped with on a 1-to-1 basis, they all were very positive about this as they said it’s actually something they may need in the future.
Next I got them to search an English job website for a job they might like to apply for, based on this they added a covering letter to go with the CV.

We had a very good and productive week, but I could see it was taking its toll on the ss, so with the permission of the management I played them a movie which they voted on which film to watch. They decided on ´Quantum of Solace´, the latest James Bond movie. This actually was a good movie for me to set a small task to, I asked them to write a review of the film. I gave them some questions such as:
Who directed the movie?
Who sung the theme song?
What are the names of the lead actors?
Another reason this movie was good because it’s probably the biggest movie which relies greatly on ´product placement´, so I asked them to list items that were placed and the strength of the placement.

Monday 2nd

After a warm up of Pictionary, which is always a good start to the day. It’s a good way to warm the brain as well as building vocabulary and of course a bit of a laugh.
I then suggested we cover the dreaded grammar so we could get it out of the way while they were fresh from the weekend, all ss agreed.

To try at make it a bit less monotonous I used worksheets and some games, all ss anticipated well and we got through a lot:

Future form will + going to

All ss actually had good understanding of most things so it was more of a refresher for them.
I then explained to them the meaning and use of ´Product Analysis´, and broke it down into the following areas:

Function and purpose of product
Different parts of product, how they work together
Shape, form, colour, texture and decoration
Production procedure
Consumer demand
Comparison to similar products
Products unique features
Aesthetic appeal
Price, value
Safety and Moral (Environment)

As I had my stilts with me, I used these as an example, and as a group we compiled a product analysis. The final result was very good, with the use of the internet the ss came up with some very good ideas. To end the day I asked them to decide on an existing product and to start the next day they will carry out an analysis.

Tuesday 3rd

We began with the ss compiling their own product analysis, they came up with a good mix of products. I micro-taught each ss and once complete I told them to present it to the group, but with a twist! They were not to say what the product was and the rest of the group would try to guess what it was.

`Giving Presentations was next, to start I compiled a worksheet which broke down the important factors to remember when preparing to give a presentation. I had prepared a presentation about my stilts, it was based on the idea I was asking for investment from a company to start a business.

After my presentation I explained the structure and different parts to it:

Personal and company introduction.
Product introduction
Target market/Consumer demand
Advertising and marketing
Sales forecast

I told them of the importance of visual aids, when and how they should be used.

We then looked at speech and body language, and useful phrases and words.

So the time had come, I told them they should prepare a similar presentation using the product they had analysed. There was some very shocked and worried faces staring at me, so I explained some calming methods.

I also played them an episode of ´Dragons Den´, which is an English TV series about budding entrepreneurs, who give a presentation to a panel of successful business people in hope of investment.

The rest of the day was spent on these presentations, I assisted each student individually throughout. I suggested when looking at their product they search English websites for details on their products.

Wednesday 4th

To start the day I felt the tension in the room due to the looming presentations, so I decided to not break the news that I had invited Frau H to attend the session. They spent the first session finishing and polishing up their presentations.
So we were ready, I gave each student a score sheet which was categorised:

Visual aids
Overall impression

I explained each category and said they will mark each area out of 10, and I asked for the presenters to be ready for questions at the end.

Every single presentation was fantastic, and the interaction was great. Ironically the most nervous student was awarded the most points! The most of the students actually said they enjoyed it, and Frau H was also very impressed.

To relax them a bit, we carried out a brainstorming session about Business Trips, we looked at planning, arranging, hotels, culture etc

We also covered at Logistics and globalisation, Incoterms, packaging and documents used in foreign trade.

Thursday 5th

Due to the LCCI being very focussed on business correspondences, the group discussed different forms of correspondence and when you might use them.
I decided to cover the most important 5 types of letter:


Last week we already looked at the structure of a letter, so I began by just explaining the slight difference between each letter, I had also compiled an expression and word sheet for each type. Firstly I gave the ss a letter of offer which was in the wrong order and asked them to restructure it. This was no problem for most, so they then wrote a letter in reply to their letter of enquiry from last week, with a little help all ss completed this well with no great problem. So we carried on with each type of letter.

Friday 6th

The students were pre-warned of the test to finish the module. I had compiled a 30 question multiple-choice exam based on the past 2 weeks. So after our final session of Pictionary, the ss sat the test. The results of which were very good ranging from 66% to 90%.
Because, I believe, feedback is always important. I asked the students to write a review of the last 2 week, I explained they should be very honest. The results were very pleasing; all expressed their preference for speaking only English.

Fatigue was really showing in all ss, so we spent the last couple of hours watching different short programmes from England ranging from comedy, talk shows, the news and one of my favourites `QI´ which is a knowledge based programme but with a panel of comedians. After each show we had a short discussion and I explained anything they didn’t understand. Most students told me that before this 2 weeks they did not really watch any English TV/Movies, but they said they seem to understand more (with exception of certain dialects) and would carry on to watch.