A code of ethics for CEOs

I was browsing around in youtube last night and came across a video from a Columbian youth.

The question was so poignant I immediately knew it would make a great lesson.

Today in Davos, the World Economic Forum begins. To support their activities, other than their website, the WEF have also created an interactive page on youtube for questions and lectures on a number of topics including economy, ethics, environment and politics.

Pablo's answer to the question Should CEOs have a code of ethics was:

You can download the video from here.
Not sure how to take it into class, come here.

I know I'm 100% for this idea, my feelings are "about time" -but what do our business English students think?

Here's a quick lesson plan - don't hesitate to add to it or suggest other uses for these rich and interesting discussions.
  • ask students if they know what a "code of ethics" is
  • get them to list professions that have one
doctors, psychologists, lawyers, journalists, social workers and more
  • write on the board - Should CEOs have a code of ethics? Ask why, why not?
  • watch the video (possibly more than once depending on your students' levels)
  • review some of the more difficult vocabulary* (see below, you could also pre-teach)
  • hold a discussion on the suggestions he makes, feasible?
Quite long: you can split these up into parts or only use some of it,
do a google search for others if you have a large class.
Different codes to different students.
  • provide this guideline on creating a code of ethics, c.o.e. (or adapt)
  • get students to brainstorm a new code specifically for CEOs in groups
  • encourage them to use some of the 'legal-speak' they've picked up so far
  • monitor slightly, remind them of the modals of obligation
  • choose a presenter from each group to relay their c.o.e, edit as necessary
  • discuss the pros and cons of their suggestions

Important vocabulary
  • to be contingent on, to standardize, to compromise
  • unethical liberties, human rights, common characteristics, profit-driven
  • an international code, international markets

Post-task activity

Let your students choose between watching further videos on youtube, listening to podcasts or reading articles, blog postings etc on the WEF and ask them to report back on their activities next week (or next lesson(s)).

kofi annan world economic forum flickrYou could also ask them to research the people present or behind the scenes. Alternatively, you can also ask your students to look into the history of the Forum and the location chosen.

Or, if you're lucky enough to be teaching a group with great technology skills, teens /youth perhaps, why not get them to make video responses on their cameras or camera phones and actually participate in the debates - such fun!

p.s don't forget you can .pdf this page or send it to yourself/ a friend. Buttons below.

Obama's big day is finally here!

Yep, that's me.

And yup, that's Obama in the background. Really, it's not photo-shopped.

It was taken in Berlin during the big speech back in July last year... I'd flown up to volunteer with Dems abroad and had a super-super-duper day.

However, as you can imagine, I've got to be around for my boy tomorrow to watch all things, via Facebook this time, so I'm not going to have time to blog about using this mega event in our English lessons.

I'm pretty sure you'll be 'dogme'ing it anyway but just in case you came on over for a tip or two, allow me to point you in the direction of another great teaching blog with lots of great suggestions and cool links!

Jeffrey Hill's The English Blog


Happy! Happy! Day!

p.s. a week later: I used Jeffrey Hill's slideshare of Obama cartoons and got lots of mileage - my students were the ones who spotted the connections (the type of shoes thrown etc.,) that I'd have missed. Provoked much conversation however would recommend doing this only with students who have an interest in Politics, right?!

Flight 1549: disasters as fodder for EFL lessons?

UPDATE 8Mar09 - this lesson plan now has an additional animated video which can you use to discuss process with students -especially good if teaching ESP:Aviation students.

Disasters in the news are great opportunities to get your students talking.

Whenever a major crisis hits the news media, words and facts fly out and students begin embedding statistics about the event in their brains.

If your students are anything like mine, after any major incident, they arrive in the classroom bursting to share what's happened (maybe because I'm constantly reminding them that I want them to small talk).

They're often able to tell us in English- even the lower level students - just how many people were involved, where 'it' occurred and the process: the before, during and aftermath.

They have opinions too.

Sometimes in their passion of finally having a story for me, though, I see clear areas of grammatical weakness and occasionally their sequencing adverbs are a little off.

Does this happen to you too?

If you'd like to test this exercise out, the crash of Flight 1549 into the Hudson River is a great example. It's dramatic, it's almost everyone who fly's greatest fear and it had a happy ending.

flight 1549 A very 'real' way to demonstrate the importance of adverbs of sequence/ adverbials of time.

- first
- then
- next
- after that
- finally
get this picture here

If you'd like to spice things up and get your students stretching their linguistic muscles, add things like:

- initially
- firstly, secondly...
- while

Stick up words/ phrases + adverbial clauses like
- by the time
- during this time
- in the aftermath.

What exactly do stewardesses say?

To really hone in on the point, once you've finished discussing the story as it occurred in the news, why not go through in-flight safety instructions.

And for my TwIT teachers, I really don't have to remind you that you can grab videos of flight 1549's crash (here) to turn this into a great multi-media lesson. You can also use this tracking map from the New York Times.

SimplyConversations lesson:
Business Travel (freelancers, institutions)

Any more tips, tricks? Related links? Don't hesitate to add them below in the comments box. Ta!



Animation Video

Recommended book: Aviation English
USA + world

Noticing the news

Do you occasionally use news articles with your English language students?

sharinganewspaper by pingu1963

Do your prefer using newspapers or do you like searching for articles on-line?

I used to use the articles from the Guardian Weekly (about once a month there's a lesson or two enclosed) however, these days I tend to prefer the stuff that's on-line.

The BBC's Learning English site has lessons bundled together with vocabulary activities. Often the topics they've chosen aren't that interesting or, surprisingly, not that topical either!

There are also a couple of sites which utilize news stories to springboard more in-depth discussions and active conversations.

I recommend:
  • Languages Out There - materials which go way beyond just reading and looking at vocabulary. Challenging speaking activities - much different from the norm.
*if you'd like to recommend a site related to this theme, don't hesitate to add it below.
reading comics by ollie carfordHowever if you've checked through these and unfortunately haven't found what you're looking for or you're simply in the mood for putting together your own news lesson, then here's a quick techie-sort-of-tip for you below.

PREP (10-15mins):

  • Go to Google, look at the top bar and click NEWS.
Make sure your computer is set for Google.com (in English).
  • Look at the left-hand side of the screen where it reads Top Stories >World >US >Business >Entertainment etc.
  • Click on one or all of these and choose one article for each student you have. Choose stories you know are currently in the popular papers of their countries, if possible, or articles related to their professional fields. Print.

reading paperPRE-DISCUSSION
  • Hand out a news story to each member of your class.
  • Ask them to scan the article for content and also to highlight INTERESTING words and phrases. Make sure they understand that
  • they don't have to understand every word, they should focus on the story.
  • Stop them after a reasonable amount of time has passed.

  • Break your students up into small groups and get them to share each others' stories.
  • Encourage them to use the words and phrases they highlighted when paraphrasing.


  • Ask students to transfer the highlighted words and phrases that are useful to their lives/professions or interests into their notebooks.
  • Ask them to write new sentences using these.

Also read my blog posting on using
CNN student news

reading mangaUseful links related to this posting:


NewYorkTimes -LearningNetwork

Simple English News

Voice of America (listening)

A real-techie-TwIT-tip
Manga (good for lower levels, not really for business classes, not really news but you may find a cartoon or two that'll fit).

Useful book
on using newspapers and articles in the classroom

via Amazon, links

If you've got any other top tips, please do feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.


Free Conversation Lesson, New Year 2009

Back to classes so soon?

Back to energizing, inspiring and motivating, getting our students talking in English...

Did you just sigh?

Tsk, tsk. ;-)

Here's a nice freebie for you, a speaking skills lesson, it should provide at least enough material for the first two classes this year!

New Year 2009

Enjoy - some of the answers to the questions in the SimplyQuestTM will be quite surprising!


p.s. You can also pick up a song activity based on Abba's Happy New Year ballad, that's the previous posting, (here.)

Happy New Year, by Abba

Have you realized how poignant that old favorite, sung by Abba way back when, is?

Ideal for taking into class with you at the beginning of term.

Here's a quick little exercise that you can print off and drag in as an ice-breaker or warmer.

  • distribute sheet
  • tell class to fill in as much of the blanks as they can, then
  • play song, first time straight through without stopping
  • get them to check with each other and compare answers
  • play song, second time stopping after each sentence
  • compare answers
  • discuss key vocabulary
  • discuss meaning of the song and 'the time' it was sung in
SimplyConversations Extension
  • the gap fill basically works on a 'lexical chunk' system in order for you (your students) to pay particular attention to the way words group together. If you're working with a group of fairly fluent and motivated students you can also use this activity as a philosophical discussion tool. ABBA sung this pre-internet, pre-a lot of other things and older students who were around when this was a hit will have much to add to the pot.

Video of this song

The official ABBA site has a gorgeous video with lyrics on screen. That's here.
More songs related to the new year on youtube here.

Useful links related to this posting:

  • Song meanings here, Song facts here.
  • Download video on to your laptop, blog about that here.
  • Netbooks, blog about that here.

Do you have any suggestions or comments? Don't hesitate to add your thoughts below.


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