Business projects are very present in the world of work.
As a matter of fact, business people might even have two or more projects going on at the same time. As ESL teachers, we have to be aware of our students’ needs. This is why preparing them for business projects in a second language is very important.However, there are some things we have to know first. Will they have specific language needs to prepare for projects? Are there specific words and expressions related to projects they will need to learn? The answer to both these questions is, yes. Preparing them for projects is not a difficult task. Let’s take a look at some activities that can help your students gain the confidence they need.
Help Students with Project Planning
In the business world, a lot goes on during project planning. Mostly, meetings take place where team members discuss things like, how long the project will take, how much money will be used and what they will need for it. In the ESL classroom, this is where students start preparing for business projects and becoming familiar with vocabulary/expressions they will need in order to plan. Let’s look at some popular choices: deadline/due date, meet/miss the deadline/due date, schedule, budget and tight (as in tight schedule or tight budget).
Activity 1: Question and Answer
Students are given a card with the following information about a project: name of project, deadline, team members and budget. Teacher and students then take turns asking questions about the project. Some examples are: What is the deadline for our project? Can we meet that deadline? What is our budget? When is the due date of the final report?
Activity 2: Project Plan
Students are given a card with information about a project. You can use the same card as before if you wish. If not, you can make another card with the similar information After preparing for a few minutes they must then present a project plan using appropriate vocabulary.
Check the Status of a Project
Here we assume the project has already started and is in progress. During this phase of a project, business people can encounter problems. Projects can fall behind or they might need a bigger budget for it. They need to practice explaining how the project is doing and in case there is a problem, explain the reason for it. Here we present vocabulary such as: ahead of/on/behind schedule, over/under budget, issues, inconvenience, problem, catch up, back on track.
Activity 3: Report on the Status of a Project
Students are given a card with information about the status of a project using the vocabulary. They must answer questions to express if the project is behind or on schedule, over or under budget. Some questions they can ask are: So, how is the project coming along? Is there anything you would like to discuss?
Activity 4: Explain Delays and Solutions
On the board, you can make a list of possible problems within a project. Some examples are: labor strike, problem with supplies (not enough), unrealistic deadline. After problems are discussed, the students should think of and discuss possible solutions. For instance, if they can catch up or not, if they make up for lost time or make some kind of deal that can solve the problem. Some questions could be: What can we do to speed things up? How can we make up for lost time/get back on track?
Practice Giving Feedback
At this stage, students should prepare for giving as well as receiving feedback. This is when the manager, which could be the student, provides positive and negative feedback on how the project went. They practice expressions such as:
- I was very impressed with ….
- I’d like to compliment you on ….
- Thanks for your hard work, I know how difficult it was ….
- Great job on the …..project.
- We expected more of you on this project.
- I know it was a difficult project. What would you have done differently?
Activity 5: Giving Feedback
Students are given a card with information about a project. Here they are the managers and must practice giving feedback after the project has been completed.
Activity 6: Receiving Feedback
The role is inverted. They must answer questions about a project and explain what problems they have had, why, what the consequences were and how they plan to improve the situation.
Specific and clearly targeted activities will go a long way toward preparing your ESL student for their business projects.
As always make sure to plan ahead!
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