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Giving learners frameworks

August 15, 2008

Hello again,

It is important to give learners maximum opportunity to experiment and use language in whatever way is useful to them as individuals. Many of the mechanical ...

... exercises they do in the classroom help them to try out and memorise new structures and vocabulary but often lack the personal dimension that makes the learning relevant.

One way of solving this problem is to provide them with frameworks into which they put their own information. Thus if you want them to describe their company, a valuable exercise for business English students, they should be able to use the present simple tense, the present perfect and the simple past, and sequencing adverbs. They should then be able to use the framework below to describe their own company.

1. Parts
This involves the parts of something and how they fit to form the whole. Example: My company has a head office, three regional branches and two wholly-owned subsidiaries.

2. Classification
Classification structuring sets up categories. Example: The company has three main activities: a manufacturing plant, warehousing and administration.

3. Comparison
Comparison structuring highlights the similarities between items/concepts. Example: Our regional branches each have a similar structure with a factory and a warehouse.

4. Contrast
Contrast structuring highlights differences between items/concepts. Example: Our head office is different in that it deals only with the administrative functions of the company.

5. Cause-Effect
Cause and effect structuring establishes a relationship between two events, where one is shown to cause the other. Example: Our market share has been increased by 15% since we acquired our two subsidiaries.

6. Problem/Solution
Problem/Solution structures are usually used for persuasive speeches, and offer plausible solutions to stated problems. Example: We have been able to streamline our stock management by installing a computerised stock-control system.

7. Time Relationships
Time relationships sequence events in a chronological order. Example: Two years ago we started to develop a strategy for export to the Far East. Last year we broke into the Japanese market and this year we have had our first order from Taiwan.

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