Office English 9 and 10 – Finito!

Lesson idea credit: Paul Walsh @josipa74 at

Although the course finished about a month ago, I only got time to add the write up now. I’ll try to keep my writing less verbose, because my student, who also happens to read my blog, pointed out that the articles tend to be a bit long. Not to mention that it’s been a while so I’ve forgotten some of the details already.

In Module 9, the focus was on using computer language and punctuation and it is actually the only module in the series I wasn’t entirely happy about and will probably revamp next time. The aim was to enable students to speak about computer procedures and how to speak about basic tasks we do on computer in English. The problem was that the students have very advanced computer skills, but lack the language, so they did find it a bit boring to describe how to save files etc. So for the next time, I will have to find synergy between their computer and language skills. However, the part of the lesson on punctuation was interesting. The students loved to learn new vocabulary for punctuation marks and helped edit a document “over the phone”, which meant they had to actually use the new language.

The last lesson of the course, Module 10,  was based around “21st Century Office Space”. If you’ve read the whole series, you will know the students had already written a business report suggesting how to improve their work environment. I had checked with some of the students that they were happy to do some DIY in the lesson and let their hair down a bit, I’d bought the supplies and brought them to class and we got going! You can find the original lesson plan here:  The basic idea is for the groups of students to build their “perfect office” from the material provided. First, they talked about their plans (I skipped the coding from the original as this had been the second time I had done the lesson and wanted to have enough time for the building), then they go and build their models. Finally, everyone walks around, asks and answers questions and comments. It was a very successful activity and I really recommend it to anyone.


And lastly, a few words to sum up the course. It was my first time to design the entire syllabus as well as the materials. If you’re ever thinking of making such an endeavour, do bear in mind that each worksheet (aka lesson plan) took me approximately three to four hours to design and one hour to polish and print. From the point of view of working conditions, I’d like to point out that I actually got paid for the preparation and I must say it made a lot of difference to the enthusiasm I put in. Last but not least, I am very grateful to my boss and to the course organiser for entrusting me with the project. It was a fantastic experience.

The last word of thanks must go to the attendees, who were really engaged and interested and I could not have wished for a better crowd. Let’s hope the glory of the course spreads across our institution and we have more people at different levels sign up in the terms to come.

If you missed the previous posts in the Office English series, you can find them here:

Office English – Lesson 1

Office English Lesson 2

Office English Lesson 3 – Small Talk

Office English 4 – Tone in Writing

Office English 5 – Meetings

Office English 6 – Business Reports

Office English 7 – Contracts

Office English 8 – Members of the EP, Ungulates, and Other Translation Hurdles



8 thoughts on “Office English 9 and 10 – Finito!

  1. Great – well done. Fantastic to see someone using the Office Space lesson. I also think there’s many ways of expanding this. Learners could take photographs of their models and make presentations, they could comment on the strengths and weakness of other groups’ models, or they could even return to the lesson in a few weeks’ time and see if they would make any changes.

    I also think it would be useful to build up a ‘bank’ of past ‘Office Space’ models for learners to talk about.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hello Paul and thanks for leaving a comment. Too bad I accidentally deleted the photos from the other time I’d done this activity. I have always used it as the last activity in the cycle so there was no follow-up, but I’m thinking of changng it next time. To me, it ties well with writing the business report – that was a good match. Also maybe limiting the supplies to certain groups and encouraging the learners to go and borrow stuff. The truth is, they tend to use L1 while they are building the models so the teacher has to make sure there is a well specified language-related task at the end.


  2. Hi Kamila,

    Yes it’s always a problem – when you do an engaging activity learners switch to L1. I’ve had this problem too and had a few thoughts about solving it. First, I’ve thought of assigning a ‘monitor’ to each group to assess performance and write down the L1 they tend to use, or just to record one group and play part of it back later.

    I’ve also been thinking about ‘integrating’ this activity into a larger, flexible syllabus a bit like ‘Widgets’ but it takes a lot of time and planning.


    1. Hello Paul,

      Thanks for reminding me of Widgets. Now is a good time for me to explore their syllabus. It is incredibly complex! As for L1 – it seems a bit unfair to deprive one member of the group of the creative work and have them monitor only. Recording seems a good option. Also maybe breaking the task into smaller tasks and do them in the earlier lessons, ie.: borrowing and lending expressions, using vocabulary for office equipment/furniture, suggesting ideas, presenting your project, etc. Then have this lesson plan as the final exit task. Which is probably what you meant by creating a flexible syllabus anyway:-) BTW, if you ever need it, I can send you the worksheet I made for it or the powerpoint with instructions. Just DM me. Thanks!


  3. I really liked this series! Thanks for sharing the whole process with us. I thought I’d make a suggestion – maybe you could link to all the sessions in this last post? It might be useful for readers who haven’t yet come across your blog.
    And I wanted to comment on what your student said – I would definitely not be concerned that your posts are overly long. But even if they were, that’s just one reader. Other readers may like longer posts. 🙂
    Have a great summer!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Vedrana! It really means a lot to me to have had your support throughout this project. I learnt so much in designing it and your comments helped me lots. Good idea about adding all the links, I’ll add them now.
      Have a great summer, too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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