The working life of an ESL student

Published on 15th June, 2010 in Global Bloggers by Patrick Talty

My afternoon Vocabulary/Conversation class had asked me recently if we could do a class focusing on the topic of work and all its related issues. They are an outgoing group of various levels and had suggested at the beginning of the session that they select the topics of discussion. I was happy to oblige, and encouraged them in their positive approach.

While I steered clear of Thomas’ idea to devote 90 minutes to Germany’s chances of lifting the World Cup, the ideas were generally quite workable.

Unit 5 of Global pre-intermediate was perfect for what I had in mind. We began with a discussion of what ‘work’ meant to each of the students. The responses were fascinating ranging from ‘to bring in money’ to ‘life satisfaction’. The list of jobs (page 54) was very useful in getting the students to comment on what their ideal job might be, and its pros and cons. Another excellent feature was the pair work exercise about jobs, although my students could have spent most of the class arguing for a universal minimum wage!

That is one of the things I am enjoying about this book. The activities are very adaptable and can easily be used as a separate ‘mini-lesson’.

We also looked at the ‘Profile of an Indian call centre worker’ (page 55). This worked very well as the students selected a job from the earlier list and did role plays.

Our look at work ended with Speaking (page 57). The students loved this, and it was interesting to see how different nationalities had different responses. My favourite was from Yutaka, who felt that MTV playing non-stop was a great motivation to increase productivity. I shall ask my Director about this.

So for me this unit worked a treat. Thanks a million!

There is a wonderful area in Toronto known as The St. Lawrence Market. It has been part of the Toronto landscape for over a hundred years, and is a place regularly frequented by students and teachers alike. There is a kind of a tradition in my school that on the last day of our monthly sessions, the teachers join the students for breakfast in the Market. It’s great fun, and is composed of a sea of stalls selling everything you can imagine. Toronto can seem very small sometimes and I regularly run into students when I am out and about. It’s a great perk of the job, and after my class on ‘work’, I feel very privileged to do what I do.

By the way, the poutine was … interesting; French fries topped with fresh cheese and covered in gravy. I’ll leave it up to you to decide!

More next week.

Patrick