Using slideshare for teaching business English

comedianMy student Markus called in the early afternoon.

'I didn't have time to do my presentation' he gushed.

Markus is a part of a 3hr, once-a-month evening presentations course I run. Part of the requirements are to bring in their real presentations for "hands-on" practice, powerpoint slides - which we review, discuss and dissect for standard lexical chunks and language specific to Business English.

'Markus,' I said 'Go on over to Slideshare, find a presentation in your field, download that and bring it in. I need your English, not specifically your slides.'

He did.

The presentation he chose was from by Bach, Abraham, Fisher and Dupree of the Moore School of Business and was about Hydrogen Fuel Cells.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: hydrogen fuel)

As this topic is directly related to his industry and key responsibilities, he was able to follow the original authors' work and successfully add his own specialized knowledge and input.

What slideshare offers are presentations: on each slide there are only key words and/or images so the success of the exercise is entirely dependent on the student's ability to elaborate on the information and statistics.

In our case, a quick, less than 5 minute download led to a half hour presentation which we then could turn into a dynamic pedagogical exercise. As a group, we discussed his lack of 'signposting' (language indicators of where one is within a presentation), worked on his introduction and summary language, reviewed phrases they'd been taught previously from Business Builder, 7.2b and Macmillan's Presentations English, unit 1.

What was also interesting was the territorial aspect Markus to on to the work - he didn't agree with all of the statistics or the slant on each slide and didn't hesitate to let us know what he thought they should be or what Germany is doing in these ventures.

Try this type of exercise with your students -low prep on both your parts, maximum speaking practice on your student's - and, of course,

do let me know how it goes!

Useful links related to this posting:
More lesson tips using slideshare

Some links to sets for Business English and ESP (English for specific purposes) included below but not limited to:

Related textbooks/supplementary:

Business builder - Germany, UK, USA +world
Presentations in English - Germany, UK, USA +world

Authentic books related to teaching presentations:

Harvard School of Business - Germany, UK, USA+world
Beyond bullet points - Germany, UK, USA+world


4 Responses to “Using slideshare for teaching business English”

  • Anonymous says:
    December 21, 2008

    Hi there!
    Great idea for an activity. I like your comment about needing his English, not his slides! Very useful to post links not only to sites but books and other stuff too. Fab.

  • Anonymous says:
    January 26, 2009

    Fantastic ideas. I love using technology in my teaching. Makes me wish I had a few advanced the moment they're all beginners or low-intermediate!

    Do you have any resources for ESP: Structural Engineering or Art Restoration? I have a couple of leads on possible advanced students in those areas.

    I'd love to hear from you.

    Marcy Coate

  • simon says:
    April 20, 2010

    Awesome idea. I'm going to use a presentation from my student's industry to specifically get him working on introductions and enumerating the contents of a presentation before launching in. Most of the presentation is too technical so just using the introductory slides - there's already enough material there for about 3 lessons! Amazing that people make this stuff freely available.

    April 28, 2010

    Seems the original author of the slideshare in question decided to take down his presentation recently however I have left the post as is because the general jist - i.e. using someone else's slides as a resource still hold fast: less about ppt work and more about students explaining an ESP context.


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