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Improving your English every day?


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What are the most common every-day English words? | To those, living in Germany...
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Improving your English every day? #1 (permalink) Thu Apr 20, 2006 7:54 am   Improving your English every day?
 

This post might be a bit of a novelty as it contains information about the English courses we are running here in Germany. Maybe this could turn into an ongoing discussion on how to increase the efficiency of our efforts. (I'm posting all the details here so you get a better idea of what is going on and those ESL trainers working with me will be able to get the latest information any time.)

If you are an ESL teacher/trainer with similar experiences, why not share them with us? I'm sure there are quite a number of issues we can talk about such as what materials to use in the classroom, how to create a lesson plan, how to monitor your learners' progress, etc.

There are three groups we are currently working with/will be working with - all of them are funded and administrated by the German government through the local employment agency. They have contracted an education service provider who in turn has contracted us to run the course. The first course started three weeks ago and it will run until the end of May. The second course starts on April 24 and will run until May 19. The third one commences on May 29 and ends on June 23.

The working hours are from 8 a.m. to 3.45 pm (9 units ? 45 minutes) with the exception of some days.

When we started the first course there were 18 learners in the group some of whom have left for various reasons. The employment agency had advertised the course as a training program for advanced learners of English without giving a definition of 'advanced'. I would say there is one learner in the group who you might call 'advanced' - she reads novels in English without the use of a dictionary, one young man has relatives in the States and he has visited them there so he is able to communicate in English and express his thoughts.

There is one woman has just started to learn English and she is making good progress. We have set the goal for everybody in the group to speak English for at least 30 minutes per day which is quite a challenge for most of them. We now have achieved a level at which we communicate in English the entire day. This means, the trainer always responds in English and the learners can use some German when they find it difficult to say what they want in English. Everybody has to use such phrases like "Could you repeat that, please?", "How do you spell this word?", "Is this a verb or a noun?" etc.

That's it for now, if you have any questions, suggestions or ideas, please post them here and we'll continue this conversation soon.

Regards
Torsten

TOEIC listening, question-response: You don't mind if I eat while we talk, do you?
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Business english course update #2 (permalink) Thu Apr 20, 2006 12:06 pm   Business english course update
 

topics today:

- asking basic do does questions followed by an infinitive (do/does you/he like to cook?).

- asking for likes/dislikes with verbs such as like, love, hate, prefer and also go or do followed by a gerund (do/does he like cooking?).

- general conversation skills in different situations (restaurant, pub, hotel).
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Business english update #3 (permalink) Thu Apr 20, 2006 12:12 pm   Business english update
 

Hi Ralf,

Many thanks for the update. The internet is a great thing, isn't it? How do you manage to get online, are you using a mobile connection or the machine in the office of Mrs. H?
Please remind the group of their assignment to create a keyword list describing their industry. Also, please ask Christoph to give a short report about his seminar yesterday afternoon and review the business terms and phrases we have introduced so far (start by describing an industry: retail sales, shops, stores, outlets, commerce, merchandise, then include the words we have already used: discount, invoice, reminder, due, refund, complaint, payment methods, etc.) We should try and steer the program into a business direction because the purpose for the group is to increase their job opportunities.

Let me know what you think,
Torsten

TOEIC listening, question-response: How did you get to work today?
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Update #4 (permalink) Sun Apr 23, 2006 13:13 pm   Update
 

- word order exercises. identifying objects of place, manner, time etc.

- revision of yesterday's main topic: asking 'w'-'h' questions involving do, does, doesn't as well as tag questions

- applying the system to simple past situations usind did, didn't

it didn't go very well, class seemed somewhat lethargic even though it was a rather simple task

- i then proceeded to create telephone situations in an office. students were asked to take their sheet 'at the hotel' and learn from the way the receptionist dealt with situations.

- then i 'rang' somebody and asked him/her to put me through, take a message, fill in a form, take down my number, submit my credit card details, hold the line etc.

- homework: exercises 1-5 from 'at the hotel'

at 3.45 everybody was pretty exhausted
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Business english update #5 (permalink) Sun Apr 23, 2006 13:32 pm   Business english update
 

Hi Ralf,

Thanks a lot for your update. You obviously have covered quite a number of topics and the challenge is to keep the group active and energetic through all of the 9 training units every day. It might be a good idea to steer the program towards their work placement - by asking them to create keyword lists describing the type of company they would like to be working at. Also, have them describe all the activities they are planning to do during the work placement. Any news from Christoph? How did his start-up entrepreneur seminar go down?

Technically, our job is to 'teach Business English'. The question is what exactly is Business English and why are we 'teaching' it and how are we teaching it? What does 'teaching' mean and what is the result of our efforts? I mean, the purpose of this program is enable the group to find a work placement in which they can use their English language skills. So, what responsibilities are they going to have in 4 weeks? Where are they going to work? What will be the requirements of their jobs? These are important questions because 4 weeks of 9 hours of business English is quite a lot and we have incorporate a number of projects that lead the group to get jobs.

Let me know what you think,
Torsten
PS: As for the schedule next week, I'll post it here soon, so please watch that space...

TOEIC listening, question-response: Have you seen my briefcase?
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Business english #6 (permalink) Sun Apr 23, 2006 15:30 pm   Business english
 

i totally agree with the suggestions you made. this is how i see myself as a teacher, too. the overall goal should be to enable students to communicate in job related situatiuations and help them gaining new skills, particularly in commercial correspondence. henceforth i will use cornelson's business for beginners and a short course in commercial correspondence.
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Business English update #7 (permalink) Mon Apr 24, 2006 18:40 pm   Business English update
 

Hi, here is an update on the Leipzig program:
The group consists of 16 professionals - 8 women and 8 men, all of whom have an academic background and can communicate in English. I introduced our team briefly and we then the group worked in pairs asking questions about each other. The task was to elicit information from to other person and introduce her/him to the group. It turned out that everybody learned Russian and English at school and university. Some of the group members have worked abroad where they practised their English.

For example, Jens has a degree in Geophysics and worked in Japan and Norway. He said it was not easy for him to find people who would speak English in Japan but almost everybody seemed to speak English in Norway as they watch British TV and American movies in the original version.

Waldemar is a Russian born German who moved to Germany at the age of 15, he worked as an IT specialist for MAN and is soon going to set up his own business: a company that buys and sells used printing machines.
Dieter is a civil engineer, he worked for a construction company that did a lot of roadworks. He has a very good sense of humour and a large active English vocabulary. He often uses his electronic dictionary which also seems to have some type of glossary feature.

Wolfgang is chemical engineer, he has travelled a lot to African countries and India where he likes to stay for several months.

Uta took part in James Parson's famous Elevator Pitch and won the contest in January 2006. She started her own business - an 'After Work Agency', company that specializes in fetching children from school and taking them to training courses and organizing free time activities.
Of course everybody in the group is unique and valuable and I'll tell you more them soon. After the introductions we talked about our goals and how to achieve them. We did the listening part of the TOEIC Mini Test and reviewed some of the vocabulary and grammar. We also had to review the alphabet so everybody would feel comfortable spelling words in English.

Tomorrow we'll start reviewing some of the vocabulary contained in the TOEIC Bridge materials and some grammar items such as simple vs. progressive tenses, the pronouns, countable vs. uncountable nouns and prepositions.

Regards
Torsten

TOEIC listening, question-response: Why don't you try Home Warehouse?
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Update D course 24/25 april #8 (permalink) Tue Apr 25, 2006 15:37 pm   Update D course 24/25 april
 

activities:

- keyword list of different trades. discussion: how to start one's own business & how to promote it.

- advertising techniques and measures. public relations in general.

- describing your profession, asking others about their's.

- collecting keywords for activities of a bank clerk.

- writing a letter advertising lower interest fees.

- establishing differences between commercial correspondence in English and German

- examining a proper business letter

- writing a reply

source: a short course in commercial correspondence

please note: on average class is A2 (high beginner), but the requirements of this course are higher. patience advised
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Cross cultural business ideas #9 (permalink) Wed Apr 26, 2006 15:04 pm   Cross cultural business ideas
 

Yesterday and today we did a mix of grammar and speaking activities. These are the grammar items we reviewed and practised:

- simple past
- simple present
- parts of speech
- plurals
- much vs. many
- countable vs. uncountable nouns
- verb forms (infinitive, simple past, past participle, gerund)
- progressive forms (simple present vs. present continuous and simple past vs. past continuous)
- adjectives (comparatives and superlatives)
- adverbs vs. adjectives

We also did a review of the pronouns (personal, object, possessive adjectives)

We did more TOEIC listening comprehension and some dictations.
In addition we had discussions about the pros and cons of the current Land of Ideas campaign, the job situation in Germany, plans until the end of 2006, differences between the German and the British/Irish labour market, new business ideas, etc.
It turned out that Thomas had worked 8 years in the Ukraine (construction) and he is using his business contacts to organize Ukrainian/German joint ventures together with the German and Ukrainian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the government bodies.
Stefanie works in real estate and she said she would go to any European country in order to find a job.

I think it would be good if you could exchange some experiences regarding the Irish/Colombian labour market, cultural differences, value systems etc. Please keep in mind that all group members have a university education and an international background.

Regards
Torsten

TOEIC listening, question-response: How much did we budget for marketing?
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Update #10 (permalink) Wed Apr 26, 2006 19:42 pm   Update
 

I was very satisfied with the D-group today. We started the course with a short introduction of everyone. We talked about different topics, so everybody could take part in short dialogs (experiences in Australia, Colombia, Brazil, etc...; one of the participants likes birds, most of them have children, another one was in Russia and likes wines; a girl has been several times to Hungary and speaks some words in this language; some of the participants can speak other languages, such as French and Spanish in the class etc....). We read a text about culture awareness (meaning of a smile, of gestures, hand shaking , politeness by requesting something etc..).
I tried to explain the English language as a Germanic language with a great deal of similarities to Romance languages.
We did some exercises about the prefixes un-, dis-, in-, im-, i-; over-, re- etc...
We wrote the lyrics of a song (Don't worry be happy), explained the vocabulary and discussed about the sense of this song (opinions, etc...).
Conjugation of some irregular verbs. Short explanation of the difference between simple past and past perfect...
We translated a business letter (Dear Sir, Madam, Yours Sincerely, etc...) and learned more business vocabulary (words and idioms).
(Almost the whole) group showed a lot of motivation and interest until the end of the class.

Talk to you soon,
Roberto
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Delitzsch, april 27 #11 (permalink) Thu Apr 27, 2006 12:10 pm   Delitzsch, april 27
 

most of this morning we were discussing cultural differences between south america, germany, great britain and ireland. in the end it drifted off into a historical debate in which only a few students participated, so i then continued practicing the alphabet for half a unit (hangman, cargo alphabet). After the break i will continue doing commercial correspondence, respectively writing a reply to an enquiry.

kathrin, elke, wieland, heidrun, siegrid, christoph and giesela participate actively, the others seem to be a bit lost or not particulary interested.
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Business english update #12 (permalink) Thu Apr 27, 2006 19:27 pm   Business english update
 

Hi Ralf and Torsten,

today's class was also very exciting. I enjoyed the participation of everyone in the L-group and learnt many things about each participant (a globe-trotter with experiences in many countries and cities worldwide, e.g, India, Nairobi, etc.., an ethnic German engineer (of German descent) who was born in a former Soviet republic Tadjikistan), a social worker who has a boyfriend studying in London, Uta who won the price at Parson's Language School (Elevator Pitch), another one who was in Norway and learned also the bases of this language etc, a very nice class to work with).

The atmosphere was really o.k; in between times, I noticed that some of the participants were losing energy, so I tried then to encourage them again and asked them discreetly to show good will. In spite of this, they were attentive and showed their interest the whole time.

The first we did was to introduce one another once again in front of me. Everybody had the chance to relate about oneself and the other participants.

Then we continued with exercises regarding verb tenses (this time: present perfect versus simple past). I also explained them the difference between transitive verbs (v/t) and intransitive verbs (v/i). Other grammar aspects were also briefly treated, such as: adjectives (comparison, also references to irregularities), nouns (specially, countable versus uncoutable nouns), verbs (some irregular forms in the three forms: exercises), adverbs (their position in an English sentence: often, usually, generally, never, seldom, already, yet, just etc..).

We read and translated the lyrics of "Don't worry be happy". Then we opened a short discussion about the message the author intends to give us. I explained the etymology of some important English words and compared these with German and other languages (we discovered this way a lot of false friends between English, German or Norwegian). I also mentioned some of the "famous examples" of "German words that cannot be translated", such as Schadenfreude, Gem?tlichkeit etc... and I explained the meaning of the word angst in English (as a strong feeling of anxiety..). At the end of the class, I introduced some words referring to business letters and the time was
over unfortunately)...

Best regards,
Roberto

P.S. Could I teach only next Thursday? I would like to do both Wednesday and Thursday, but I'm afraid I have to work very intensely on a translation (a very long one: Delivery will be on Thursday next week). But after the translation I think and hope I will have more time to do the English lessons, at least twice a week.
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Leipzig class #13 (permalink) Fri Apr 28, 2006 14:56 pm   Leipzig class
 

the L class went well today. i found it a bit difficult to communicate in the beginning (group consists of A1/A2 students + a possible B2 student Uta), so i repeated all present tense forms, had them ask questions, did word order exercises and initiated a short discussion about the german refund system (for bottles). the last 2 units i covered with an exercise about food (role play, vocab building etc.). homework: create a dialogue about a meal (delicous, a bit dry, boil, simmer, chop the veg, etc.)
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Next week #14 (permalink) Fri Apr 28, 2006 15:04 pm   Next week
 

i will do L on tuesday and thursday, D on wednesday and friday. if roberto wants to take half my wed D class, e.g. 12.30 - 15.45 (that's 4 units+15 mins break) that's fine with me. and if he wants me to, i could use part of my afternoon helping him with his translation. unfortunately i won't be able to do the toeic class on wednesday night before march 18 (endodontic treatment on wed 5p.m., after that in no mood for anything).

let me know what you think, and have a splendid weekend.
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Improving your English every day? #15 (permalink) Mon May 01, 2006 9:57 am   Improving your English every day?
 

Hi Ralf&Roberto,

Thanks a lot for your updates - as for the D-group, we started creating dialogues and in simple past and playing them out. Then we reviewed the business vocabulary you had introduced earlier. To that end and we used our 'own company'. Elke and Carmend were the founders of Centy - a supertmarket chain similar to Penny but with better service, better staff and better results. First we created an organizational chart displaying all the responsibilities and functions of everybody. For example, Christoph was (is) the purchasing manager and Daniela is responsible for procurement and logistics. Wieland was (is) the chairman of the board and he also in charge of our own unique customer complaint managment system (CCMS). We created an agenda covering all the questions to be discussed in order to come up with decisions related to launch phase of the company. We used the meeting room across from the actual classroom which is ideal for these purposes as it has one large table. This way we could face each other and conduct proper business meetings.

You can refer to those activities too - for example by having the group create key word lists containing all the vocabulary they used during the meetings. Also, you might want to think of possible situations that come up in connection with running a business and have the group hold a meeting. I think they really like the idea of using the vocabulary in meetings and discussions. The challenge is to find the right balance between theoretical knowledge and practical application...

What do you think?
Regards
Torsten

PS: We'll find a solution for this week and also for the week you are in Dublin...

TOEIC listening, question-response: How close are you to completing the paperwork?
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