Moral Dilemmas: Using Stories and Anecdotes in the Business English Class
Michael Berman, UK
Michael Berman’s published work includes The Power of Metaphor for Crown House, The Nature of Shamanism and the Shamanic Story for Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Shamanic Journeys through the Caucasus and Shamanic Journeys, Shamanic Stories for O-Books, Journeys outside Time for Pendraig Publishing, and Tales of Power for Lear Books. A Bridge to the Other Side: Death in the Folk Tradition and Georgia through Earth, Fire, Air and Water are both due to be published by Moon Books in 2012. ELT publications include A Multiple Intelligences Road to an ELT Classroom, In a Faraway Land (a resource book for teachers on storytelling), On Business and for Pleasure (a self-study workbook), and English Language Teaching Matters, written with Mojca Belak and Wayne Rimmer.
For more information please visit www.Thestoryteller.org.uk,
The telling of stories and anecdotes can be very effectively used in the Business English classroom. As students (and / or teachers) share their stories, they are not only imparting knowledge gained from their experience in the world of business but, and at the same time, they are also imparting knowledge of how language works and is used.
For the moral dilemmas presented below, split the class into three groups and have each group work on a different one. Each group can then elect a spokesperson to report back with their views to the class as a whole.
A: Once a woman attended an important interview for a job at which she had to face a panel of five interviewers, all sitting in a line behind a long desk. On entering the room, she saw that carefully positioned on her side of the desk, there was a comfortable armchair and a wooden stool with no back for her to choose between. She realised it was some kind of psychological test and so she hesitated as she wasn’t sure what she should do for the best.
Which seat would you have chosen in her place, and why?
B: An Englishman working as a teacher in Brazil was desperately short of money and needed something to supplement his everyday job. One day he saw an ad that caught his eye in a local paper. “Experienced bi-lingual actor required to do a voiceover for a documentary film.” Now the teacher’s knowledge of Portuguese was only elementary and he had never done any acting in his life but, as I said, he was desperate. So he decided to apply and to pretend that he had the necessary skills in order to get the job, which was, by the way, extremely well paid.
What would you have done in his position, and why?
C: A sales assistant stole an expensive diamond ring from the jewellery store where Natalie, a friend of hers, also worked, and the manager started to notice that stock was going missing. He realised that it must have been one of his employees who had stolen the ring, so he assembled all the staff and announced that if anyone knew who was responsible for the theft, they should come and tell him in private so the guilty person would never know who had informed on him or her. Natalie knew who was responsible but decided not to say anything as she didn’t want to get her friend into trouble.
What would you have done in this situation, and why?
Please check the Creative Methodology for Training Business People course at Pilgrims website.