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Gathering intelligence

本文作者: 21ST
期号:144  阅读数:4330
Which techniques can be used to make deductive learning both appropriate and effective in the business English classroom? Here are some ideas and examples.Tonya Trappe and Graham Tullis


There are three main ways of presenting matching in the classroom.

A. Give rules and examples, then ask students to match more examples

The prefix “out” can be added to certain verbs to indicate that something is done better. Study this example:

Outthinking — to think in a more intelligent way

Match the verbs below (a — c) with their meanings (1 — 3).

a) outmaneuver b) outperform c) outbid

1. to use tactics to gain advantage

2. to compete more effectively

3. to buy something with a higher offer

B. Give rules and ask students to match examples

It is common for people to receive memos which are not especially relevant to them. When writing a memo, it is important to start with a sentence that makes the purpose clear.

Look at the following reasons for writing memos:

1. To give instructions or directives.

2. To remind people about deadlines or dates.

3. To respond to an enquiry.

4. To give a summary of a trip or meeting.

Match the reasons 1 — 4 above with the purpose or statement a — d below.

a. This is a response to your request to research ethical investment funds.

b. This memo presents an overview of the visit to Jordan, 14 — 18 May.

c. This is to inform you of changes to procedure for submitting budgets.

d. All quarterly financial reports are due by 15 March.

C. Examples followed by rules

Study these examples and then answer the questions below about the tense.

a. Company bosses are beginning to rediscover their animal spirits.

b. As many as three out of every four deals have failed to create…

c. Companies have found by then that they could add…

d. A strategy which …regularly proves the ruin of many…

1. Which example:

a. refers to unspecified time or a period of time up to the present?

b. refers to a situation in the present?

c. refers to a repeated action in the past?

d. gives the background information or an explanation for a past event?

2. Which tense is used in each example?


MOST language teaching is inductive: the learner is given examples and asked to work out the rules. A lot of business training, on the other hand, is deductive: the trainees are given rules and expected to apply them. The deductive approach can have advantages. It gets straight to the point, and therefore can be time saving. It respects the intelligence and maturity of many — especially adult — students and acknowledges the role of cognitive processes in language acquisition. It confirms the students’ expectations about classroom learning.


IN business English we often teach students how things are done in English-speaking countries. This may differ from the way the student is used to. Here is one way of working with a short text on business conventions.

Asking questions

In negotiations it is better not to make any proposals until you have found out as much as possible about what the other side needs and what their priorities are. To do this you should:

spend more time listening than speaking.

not assume you know what they want.

ask what’s important to you and why?

get more information by asking what else is important?

ask for clarification to make sure you have understood.

Before you present the text, put the students in groups and then set the scene and ask them to discuss the best approach by giving them a list of questions to look at. For example:

You are a supplier meeting a prospective client for the first time.

1. Should you spend more time listening and talking?

2. How important is it to check information you already have?

3. Is it better to ask too many or too few questions?


A variation on the matching exercise that is most useful with words or fixed phrases is to get the students to categorize them ?in business English this often means sorting them by function ?by how they are used in a business context.

Introducing the task

If you have never done a categorization exercise with your students before or if they are unfamiliar with the idea of functions here is a way to introduce the task type.

Put this list of phrases up on the blackboard.

a) Another option is…

b) Here’s what I have in mind.

c) That’s out of the question.

d) Of course, you’ll have to.

e) No way!

f) You’ve got a deal!

g) Alternatively, we could…

h) Done!

i) I’ll have to think that over…

j) We’ll need more time.

Now divide the class into three or four groups and ask them to sort the phrases into three or more categories. Give each group a different category to work on. Here are some ideas for categories:

Grammar Meaning Formality Usefulness

You can now introduce the idea of functions — what the phrases are used for in a business context. First present the general business function, which in this class is negotiating. Before you negotiate, you should have a clear idea of your objectives and strategy. You should also find out what common ground you have with the other side and understand what points are hardest to negotiate.

Give the students a list of microfunctions and ask them to match the phrases to them. See examples of microfunctions below.

1. Presenting an initial offer.

1. Presenting an initial offer. 2. Refusing an offer.

3. Imposing conditions. 4. Making a counter-proposal.

5. Reaching agreement. 6. Postponing a decision.
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