John Hughes, Using Video in Business English and Redefining Meetings

April 1, 2013

By Patricia Hankins

John Hughes’ presentation March 9th was about using video in Business English. It was sponsored by ELTABB and Oxford University Press. The Berlin School of English graciously let us use their premises. The presentation was interesting and well worth attending. Not only did John Hughes share videos with us, but he also demonstrated how we the participants could use them by having us do the exercises in a shortened form.  


Using Video in Business English

First he showed us YouTube videos we could use. One exercise was with the short video, “Signs.”  There is no real dialogue. The students just describe using verbs what the man does on a regular day. For more advanced learners the students could describe how the man feels, and also use the notes written between two people to introduce messaging. Another video John suggested was “The Black Hole.”  This would be good if students are studying the conditional. They could, for example, say: If I had a black hole at work, I’d… .

Then he showed us a series of graded videos from the Business Result series that are available on OUP YouTube channel as tasters. On the Intermediate DVD (Unit 6), for example, a manager speaks about how different cultures give feedback differently, using the metaphor of a hamburger. This is for more advanced learners. Another video he showed us from the Elementary DVD is about selecting the right location for an office. Student A listens and describes the first part of the video, while student B leaves the classroom in order to not view the video. Then they change places and student B sees the other choice of office. They then both discuss what they have viewed, after having written down notes. This can be used for discussion and opinion language. Students could then do a presentation.

TED Talks were also mentioned. The example used was Hans Rosling’s presentation “The Magic Washing Machine.”, which John discusses how to use on his blog. For example, the students could pick out the presentation skills in the video. This is for advanced students.

Another idea that he gave was to use video to teach small talk in a role-play between a Brit (who has just arrived) and a German businessman. The teacher can take pictures of, e.g., Berlin and have the person who is playing the German businessman describe each picture to the Brit. The pictures could be turned into a video using Windows Media Maker, or they could go into a presentation and be shown for one minute each. Redefining the Language of Meetings

In his second workshop, John talked about redefining meetings. Students are often vague about what they want or need, saying something like, I need to attend meetings. There were three important questions he said to ask:

  • What do they communicate about?
  • Who do they communicate with? ( e.g. native or non-native speakers)
  • How do they communicate? (e.g. by teleconference)

He had us look closely at statements by students and decide whether we knew enough for a needs analysis. We also discussed the real language of meetings and what parts are predictable and teachable so we can actually focus on them in a classroom. He gave us a corpus example from Michael Handford’s The Language of Business Meetings and asked us to select what aspects we thought would be possible to teach. There were many other interesting points too numerous to mention here.

For more information you can check out his blog at: .