In this conversation lesson, students watch a TED talk entitled “English Mania.” Students then discuss questions related to English as a global language, English for international business, and English language learning. The speaker in the video speaks slowly and, for the most part, uses easy-to-understand words. With a little pre-teaching of vocabulary, intermediate students have no problem understanding the video.
Put students into small groups. As a warm up, ask them to guess the answers to the following questions:
1. What is the world’s largest English-speaking country?
2. How many people worldwide are trying to learn English?
Give them a few minutes to discuss and then meet as a group. Tell them that they will learn the answers to the questions in the video they are about to watch.
Vocabulary and Introduction to Video
Tell the students they are going to watch a video entitled “English mania.” Before playing the video, briefly pre-teach some of the challenging terms in the video. Below are some good terms to cover.
to weep (verb)
to let (someone) down (verb)
to witness (verb)
turning point (noun)
Play the video. Tell them to listen for the answers to the two questions in the warm-up ( 1. What is the world’s largest English-speaking country? 2. How many people worldwide are trying to learn English?)
Make sure they got the answers to the two warm-up questions. Answers, according to Jay Walker: 1) China 2) two billion people.
After watching the video, put students into small groups and ask them to discuss the following questions:
1. What are the pros and cons of having a universal language? Do you think the world needs a universal language? Why or why not? Could our global economy function without a universal language? Could translation be used instead of a global language? Tell your group your opinion.
2. Should English be the world’s language? Why or why not? Are there any other languages that you think would be better?
3. One criticism of having English as the world’s language is that talented people who do not speak English well are excluded from certain jobs. What are some solutions to this problem? Think of at least three things that governments and corporations can do to make sure this doesn’t happen.
4. Do you think most of the world will speak English one day? If so, when do you think it will happen?
5. In the video, the speaker says English is becoming the world’s language not because the United States is pushing it but because the world is pulling it. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? What do you think is causing such a huge demand for English?
6. What do you think about the educational methods you saw in the video? What are the pros and cons of governments forcing all students to learn English? Do you think governments should make English learning mandatory? Why or why not?
For more business English conversation lessons, please visit the Conversation Lessons section of the site.