“the Apprentice” as a business English resource

On the lookout for some video material for your Business English students, but have run out of the coursebook resources? Want them to watch and discuss smth (and it better be authentic) but series or TED talks are not exactly what you want? Look, there are reality shows! No, I don’t mean the ones where they are cooking, learning to sing or losing weight. I’ve recently come to appreciate the business-focused reality show, the Apprentice.
The beginning of the first episode was exactly what I needed for one of my students. By that moment we’d been speaking about success in business for some time, having read smb’s top 10 leadership qualities post and watched Richard Branson on BBC’s 5 minutes interview   (an amazing source of inspiration in itself, no doubt!).
So just to get an idea of what Apprentice is, we started off with
a short description of the show from Wikipedia. I got my student to read it, we did some work on the vocab, and  then I asked if she thought it could be an interesting watch. It was, so we started from the very beginning of the first episode (I’m talking about the UK version) and watched the first 3 minutes. I asked her to stop at 3:15, to be precise. After the first watch she had to answer some general questions:
  • Where is the show set?
  • Who is the boss?
  • How many participants are there?
 After that, we focused on details. The very first part of the video is perfect if you want your SS to learn a lot of adjectives to talk about people’s qualities (that is, business / work-related qualities).
So the task was to complete the gaps using the words from the list. I wanted her to try and do it on her own, after which she could rewatch the first half (0 – 1:15) and check it.
Complete the gaps

 1. how do they describe themselves? (try to guess, then watch and check)

  • mind
  • shrewd
  •  definitely
  • degree
  • success
  • far
  • trustworthy
  • unique
  • hungry
…… is important to me
I ….. to win most times, I don’t ….. losing
I am very adaptable, ……., determined
I am ….., yet honest
I am definitely a ……… thinker
I’ve got O-levels, I’ve got A-levels, I’ve got a …… in environmental planning
There are …..too many business ideas in my head
14 people ……for success have been shortlisted for this ……. opportunity
All they’ve …..to do is impress the boss
  1. lord sugar speech (try to guess, then watch and check, 1:15 – 3:15)

  • tired
  • blow
  • let
  • impressed
  • fired
  • top
I don’t wanna ….. my own trumpet here
I am telling you, I am sick and …… of it
Sir Alan sugar is on the ….. of his game
I am very, very ………
you are ……!
don’t ……. me down
We didn’t continue watching at the lesson as those 3 minutes was quite sufficient and saturated with the info, and anyway, my main goal had been to spark her interest, but we left another part (where Lord Sugar is briefing the teams on their first task, from 15:43 to 17:03; and his comments on the task, starting at 17:33) for the hometask.
And…here comes the unexpected part: instead of watching only those several mins my student, who is an entrepreneur herself, watched the whole episode (over 40 mins). Not only did she watch, but she also came up with a big post (in English! and it was a genuine surprise for me) in her blog sharing her impressions of “the Apprentice”. Her impressions actually we’re not all joy and admiration, but that’s not the point. Especially since the task and it’s execution as well as the whole idea of putting 14 competitive adults into one place are pretty controversial. Anyway, the point is, smth caught her attention so much that she got really interested even though she didn’t become a fan of the show.
At least we had smth to discuss next lesson, and she took away a lot of good vocab out of it.
What do you think? Would you take “the Apprentice” to your classroom?

About Svetlana Urisman

I am an ADOS and an English teacher (and materials writer) in a language school in Moscow. I have been an ADOS and a teacher trainer for a couple of years and a teacher for about 10 years. I am keen to share some ideas and materials I've developed in order to take them further and not to lose them. You are welcome to use any materials represented in this blog, and I will be happy to get your feedback afterwards if you take them to your classroom! ;-)
This entry was posted in authentic materials, Business English, ELT, lesson plans, materials writing, one-to-one, speaking, teaching higher levels, vocabulary and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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