The walls that divide us

(A Business English/EFL/ESP:marketing lesson)

After having lived, worked and taught English all over the world, I've noticed that cultures differ from workplace to workspace and this cultural divide isn't limited to the country of residence, nor to the sub-cultures there but, instead, is a part of a company's own philosophy.

Here in Germany, many people work side-by-side for years, never ever reaching first-name basis. Often they think Americans and Caribbeans are far too relaxed and dislike what they perceive to be a level of superficiality.

On the other hand, when you get to know the Germans, they are, deep-down, some of the most warm-hearted and generous people I've ever had the pleasure of teaching and they continually surprise me with their insights and knowledge.

As you've probably had conversations with your own students about cross-cultural business communication issues, no matter where you live, I thought I'd post up one of my older video exercises (you'll have seen it already if you've been in one my training sessions).

This video is a brilliant supplementary activity to take in with you: it's short, the speech of the actors is clear and the advertisement is particularly poignant for a Business/ESP:marketing lesson.

You can use it across a variety of objectives. On one side working on the concepts of business communication/cross-cultural issues or concentrating on the emotive metaphors, expanding the activity further by brainstorming others.

If you're teaching a group of marketing students, discussing the actual effectiveness of the advertisement can turn it into a particularly interesting conversation.

As an extra bonus, the video also provides a great context for practicing the Present Perfect vs the Past Simple.

Teaching notes:

The video works well with PreIntermediate students right up to Advanced students.

With the latter, the comprehension questions can be quickly glossed over if you wish, spending more time on the discussion, post video.

With the lower levels, watch twice and do the questions which your students can handle comfortably. Prompt your students to give you their general impressions and/or work on the grammar presented in the dialogue.


Useful links related to this posting:
How to download video on to your laptop/netbook.


List of Business English textbooks this video activity can be used to supplement:
-Business Basics unit 10
-Market Leader PreIntermediate unit 7 /unit 9
-Business Focus PreIntermediate unit 7
-Intelligent Business Intermediate unit 6
-InCompany PreIntermediate unit 4
-InCompany Intermediate unit 17

As a warmer

-Up to Speed unit 6
-Business Result unit 8

As always, if you'd like to add a book title to this list or you've got a suggestion for working with the video in another way, don't hesitate to add your thoughts!

1 Response to “The walls that divide us”

  • sabridv says:
    August 12, 2009

    I loved the activity. Thanks for sharing. I would probably use it within a unit about advertisements.


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