Posted in Uncategorized

Natural English: how to make requests when out and about

A great post about natural, polite requests.

Teach Taught Taught

orange_squeeze Often people feel at a loss when being out and about* in London they need to ask something to the person next to them or a passer-by. Some students feel they can’t find the right words. Today’s post is about the kind of questions you might need to ask strangers when going around the city. The questions I came up with are deliberately more complex than the ones you’d usually learn at school and mostly used by British people .

‘To be out and about’ means to be out doing stuff, going to places etc

CAN I SQUEEZE IN?

Context: you’re on the bus and you’ve just seen a spare seat but someone is sitting on the aisle seat. You could ask this person ‘Sorry, can I sit there?’ or ‘Sorry, can I squeeze in?’.

The idea behind the use of the verb ‘squeeze in’ is that you know that…

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Posted in Warmers

Warmer: Knock knock jokes

knockknock

This is a warmer to start the class to introduce knock knock jokes and get students talking, interacting and hopefully laughing.

Here is the handout:knock-knock-jokes

First use the 2 examples to teach students the structure of the jokes. Be sure to teach students the phrases:

“I get it.”/”I don’t get it.” – I understood the joke.

Then give out the jokes (some are duplicated so give them out to students on different sides of the class) have students circulate and tell each other their jokes. Students discuss which one is their favourite.

 

Posted in Conversation Classes, Current Affairs Classes, Reading Classes

The Spanish Timetable: Reading and Speaking Activity

siesta

 

This is a reading and speaking activity based around an article from the New York Times about possible changes to the Spanish working say timetable. The original article is quite long so I have edited it down a bit, it should be suitable for B2/FCE upwards. Here is a link to the edited version and the discussion questions:

Spain time article

Start by asking students to tell the class about their average day with specific focus on the times at which they get up, eat, go to work, go to bed etc. Ask them if they follow the typical Spanish timetable outlined in the introduction to the article. Do they eat late? Do they have a siesta?

Once they have shared their different schedules set the class a time limit depending on their level to quickly read the article and underline any unfamiliar vocabulary. This could include:

To hunker down – to meet up/get together

a boon – a bonus

a lag – a delay

Go over the new vocabulary on the board, then either split the class into small groups and give out the discussion questions or hold a whole-class discussion. Below are the discussion questions from the hand out:

What’s your initial reaction to the article?

Do you agree with any of the opinions stated? Which ones?

Describe your daily routine; does it follow the “Spanish” timetable?

What are the advantages/disadvantages of both the Spanish and the “European” timetable?

How difficult would you find it to adjust to a new timetable?

Do you think changing the timetable would affect the country’s culture?

Do you think most people would find it easy of difficult to adjust to a new timetable?

Do you think the current system helps people be efficient?

 

When you have finished the questions you could organise a class debate for/against the idea of changing the Spanish timetable to be more in line with the rest of Europe. Sometimes when organising debate teams it’s a good idea to force your students to argue for a point that they don’t actually agree with. Debate structure should be as follows:

  • Each team presents their argument (3 uninterrupted minutes per team)  – the other team must remain silent but can take notes for the rebuttals later
  • Rebuttals (10 minutes) – Teams can attack the opposition’s arguments based on statements made in the presentation of their argument.
  • Result – Teacher can decide which team has the most coherent argument.

You may find my activity on language of agreement/disagreement useful for the debate.

Posted in Conversation Classes

Role play: Making Polite Requests

makingrequests

Just a quick note…

Before you use these materials… We’ve created a new podcast aimed at B2+ level English students and teachers alike. You can listen for free at our SoundCloud page below. You can download teacher’s notes to accompany them from our Facebook page or from this blog. All comments and feedback welcome! Give us a like and a share 😉

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Role play: Making Polite Requests

This is a fun conversation class to help students with language for making, accepting and rejecting polite requests in work or home situations. Here is the link to the handout.

Start by asking students the following:

Have you ever asked for a pay rise?

Have you ever asked for time off?

When was the last time you asked for permission for something? What was it? How did you ask?

First have students brainstorm language of polite requests, then go over the language in the handout.

Making Requests

I was wondering if it would be possible to…….

Is there any chance that I could…….

Would it be alright if I……..

I believe I’m entitled to/I deserve…… (a pay rise/a day off)

Giving Reasons

You see the thing is……………

The problem is that………….

Accepting Requests

Ok, I don’t see why not.

Of course.

No problem at all

Adding Conditions

As long as/provided that/on condition that you……..

Rejecting Requests

I’m afraid that’s just not possible at the moment.

That’s out of the question.

I’m afraid I have to turn your request down.

Once you have gone through the language, put students in pairs and give out the role play cards. Tell students that it is important that they keep their role cards secret as some characters are required to keep certain information secret.

Run the same role play simultaneously and after 4-5 minutes have students report back what happened to the rest of class (a good opportunity to practice reported speech).

Role plays

A:

You are an employee in a company. Next weekend your best friend is having his/her stag/hen party (despedida de soltero). You have to ask your boss for the Monday and Tuesday after off work. Your boss will probably reject the request if he/she knows you are going to a stag/hen party.

B:

You are the boss of the company. An employee comes to ask you something. This particular employee has seemed distracted recently and keeps forgetting important things.

A:

You are and sales person in a company. You are very stressed and you need a rest, you have decided that you want to take a sabbatical to go and volunteer in an elephant sanctuary in Africa for a year. You need to speak to the boss. You are very hard-working and the company is doing very well because of your hard work.

B:

You are the boss of a company. One of your employees comes to ask you something. You have heard a rumour that this employee wants to take a sabbatical. He/she is your best sales person and the company really needs him/her. You can offer him/her a pay rise, a promotion and a 1 month holiday.

A:

You are a strict parent. Your son/daughter comes to you with a request about the weekend.

B:

You are a teenager. Your best friend is having a massive party at his/her house this weekend because his/her parents are away, the boy/girl of your dreams is also going to be there. You need to get your parent’s permission to go but they are very strict and will not give you permission if they know it’s going to be a crazy party.

A:

You are a teacher. Your best student comes to you with a request.

B:

You are a student. You are very intelligent and you work very hard. You want to be a journalist. You have been offered a part time job in a national newspaper. If you take the job you will have to work from 9am-12am on Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays but you have classes on these days. Speak to your teacher and see if you can find a solution.