A training session on teaching the language of negotiating

One of my main writing projects in the last few years has been working on the Business Result series from Oxford University Press. Part of the project was to develop a teacher training DVD to accompany each teacher’s book in the series along with a worksheet for teachers and session notes for teacher trainers. Over at the OUP Global blog they are starting a series of articles written by me about different aspects of training Business English teachers. You can also see a clip from the relevant DVD. So to accompany this series, I’ll be offering tips and ideas at this blog for teacher trainers to go with the OUP blog posts. The first one is a brief outline of a session you can do on how to teach the language of negotiating and the skills.

1 Write these five contexts for negotiating on the board. Put trainees in pairs and ask them to discuss which are more formal and need planning:

a negotiate for a cheaper price

b negotiate to decide who washes up

c negotiate terms and conditions

d negotiate the deadline to complete a job

e negotiate a pay rise with your boss

2 Afterwards discuss the responses and ask if anyone in the group has had to do any of a-e. The aim of the task is to highlight that ALL of us negotiate on a regular basis and it isn’t just something high-flying exec types do.

3 Working in the same pairs, ask the teachers to role play this situation: It’s Sunday evening and one of you has to teach a one to one lesson at 7am the next morning. You’ve had a very busy weekend (partying, etc) so you call your colleague and try to convince them to do the lesson for you so you can have a rest. The other person normally has Monday off because s/he works on Saturdays.

After the role play, discuss which pairs reached a successful deal. Did you both win? Did one of you do better in the negotiation? Why?

4 Next, ask the teachers to reflect on the kind of language they used during the role play. They should write down any useful phrases they might have used. Another way to do this is to record some of the role plays in 3 and play them back to analyse the language. Or add a third ‘listener’ student to the role play in 3 whose job it is to listen to the dialogue and write down any useful phrases.

5 Follow on from stage 4 by asking teachers to look at examples of language taught for negotiating in course books and how the stages of a negotiation can be broken down. Ask them to comment on how much the language presented in the course book reflects the kind they used in their role plays.

6 If you have time, ask participants to prepare a lesson where students negotiate something similar to the role play; for example, negotiating with a work colleague to do some extra work. In the plan they should note the language and skills needed and how they will teach them to the students.

As ever, your comments on the above are welcome – especially if you have experience of training teachers in this particular area!



Categories: Business English, Business Result, Teacher Training

Tags: , , , ,

3 replies

  1. Nice session, John
    A variation on the second role play might be to ask teachers to negotiate with their DOS to teach a favourite group or level next term.
    I’ve used this in PD sessions with practising teachers. We also looked at the idea of sometimes needing to concede something in order to get what you want (and obviously the associated language).
    In initial training situations this role play would need some back up with role cards, especially for the role of DOS, covering the knock on effects of a timetable change and the kind of concessions the teacher could offer to make.
    When I used it with staff at the school where I was DOS, no cards where needed 😉 – and, of course, there was a second agenda of raising awareness of the bigger picture of timetabling issues and what concessions could – or couldn’t – be made.
    I suppose it’d probably be interesting to explore these issues with pre-service trainees as well.

  2. Thanks for this Ceri. Any comments on how much of the language of negotiating they used that we normally teach in our lessons? Wonder if it’s the same?!!

  3. It was quite some time ago, I can’t really remember the actual language, so I’m not sure I can answer youtr question!

    But I do remember there was a lot of discussion of strategies and which would or wouldn’t be successful and why, and this often boiled down to wording and register and how direct (or even desperate!) the teachers were – as well as the need to change tack and resort to new strategies in response to the DOS’s reaction.

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