Teaching English for Specific Purposes (ESP) can be tricky, especially when dealing with obscure fields such as architecture, or structural engineering, however when teaching English for cashiers, which is a pretty common job and does not necessarily require a high level of English, your job as a teacher becomes a lot easier.
A cashier is someone who handles cash and other forms of payment in a store, restaurant, bank, or other business. Other terms for cashiers can include clerks, CSR’s (Customer Service Representatives), Sales Associates, or tellers in banks. Depending on the size of the business in which the cashier works, their responsibilities will differ. For the purposes of this lesson guide, we will assume that the cashier also handles customer complaints and guiding customers to products in the store.
As with most ESP lessons, role playing will play a big part in the lessons. It is, in my opinion, one of the most useful and effective methods for teaching English to people who need it for specific fields. It is important to realize that your students who are cashiers will have lots of stress because many companies will charge them for any mistakes they make and most customers will not point out a mistake or even notice it until later on. It is best to let your students know that customers will be nicer and more cooperative if they say “I am in training, so please forgive any mistakes I may make.” This phrase has been proven to save many a cashier from trouble in the past.
Cashier Role Play
In your role playing exercises there are some key phrases your students will need to know and I will give them to you know with hypothetical responses as well. There are also many other relevant questions and useful phrases that can be used when working as a cashier and in order to ensure that you cover every possible angle, you can ask the students to bring in their training manual in order to teach them specifics of their job in case they don’t understand certain aspects of it. In the following examples “S” will stand for your student who is the cashier and “C” will stand for customer.
- S: Do you have a membership or a discount card?
C: Yes; I have a gold membership card. Here it is.
- S: Will you be paying with cash or credit?
C: Do you accept Visa or MasterCard?
- S: I am sorry. Your card has been declined. Do you have another form of payment?
C: Sure, Try this card, and if it does not work, I will pay in cash.
- S: I just need to see some form of identification to verify your card.
C: That will not be a problem. Here is my driver’s license
In many smaller businesses, cashiers will also have to deal with customer service, including, complaints, comments, questions, and helping customers find the things they need in the store. It is important to use role play and situational improvisation for your students in order for them to succeed in learning cashier English properly. It is important to remember that in many businesses, the cashier is the face of the business since, he or she would be one of the few employees that the customer actually speaks with. Cahiers, need to be friendly polite, and diplomatic. It is important to teach them the appropriate vocabulary needed for the job and ensure they know how to keep a customer happy. I will give you a list of phrases that are very important for any person who works as a cashier with customer service responsibilities.
- Welcome to ____ (name of store, business, restaurant, bank, etc…) I hope you can find what you are looking for.
- How can I help you?
- I can solve this problem for you.
- I do not know, but I will find out for you.
- Thank you for your business / patronage
- I understand your concern and will call my manager to come deal with the issue.
- I am sorry for the inconvenience this has caused you.
- What seems to be the problem, and how can I help to solve it?
- Do you have a receipt for this _____ (item the customer wants to return of complain about)?
- Although I understand your complaint, due to company policy there is nothing I can do to help.
The last important part of teaching English to cashiers / customer service representatives will be the extensive vocabulary they will need. Working in this field requires certain specific phrases and words which can be confusing for some. After doing some research, I have come up with a few resources that will help you to teach the vocabulary necessary for students who are cashiers.
- http://esl.about.com/od/businessspeakingskills/a/customer_ser.htm - This page has several key phrases and sample conversations for role playing which are handy when teaching cashiers and customer service representatives.
- http://quizlet.com/3586452/customer-service-vocabulary-flash-cards/ - This page has an interactive list of key terms with audio to help students learn.
It is also a good idea to have your students bring in their training manual and pick out the words they do not know and write them on the classroom chalk or marker board and then go through them with the students and define them as well as use them in sentences for examples.
As I said earlier on, role playing will be your best teaching tool when teaching English to cashiers.
It is ideal for this particular program because students will be able to hypothesize and come up with new comments, questions, and information based on their respective work places. It will help them to be more comfortable with the language and will allow them to use words that they are comfortable with as well. Using their training manuals and words that they have come across when working will also be very beneficial because they will be able to personalize the information and the lesson and apply it to their own work lives.