When shopping one of the things that contantly amazes me is the time
people spend getting their money out to pay. They`ve been
queuing up, waiting to pay, but when asked to actually pay, it seems to
take them by surprise & those behind have to spend even more
time in the queue while they dig around looking for their money. Where do they think
I came across an article in the Guardian last week about shopping etiquette. Here it is with a teaching procedure below:
Supermarket etiquette: a guide to modern manners
week Sainsbury's apologised for an employee who refused to serve a
customer until she stopped talking on her mobile. But what is
acceptable behaviour when you're out shopping?
How does one navigate the modern social minefield of the supermarket?
story of a Sainsbury's employee who refused to serve a customer until
she got off her mobile phone illustrates the complexity of supermarket
etiquette: talking on your phone at the checkout is both unacceptable
and allowable. Sainsbury's has no policy against it, so in this case
both customer and employee were wrong. How does one navigate this
modern social minefield? The following primer may help:
trip to the supermarket is an out-of-body consumer experience, best
attacked alone and with your brain on standby. That's why it's OK to
ignore people you know or, if need be, to hide from them. This is
actually a courtesy, so don't be offended when someone does it to you.
If you must chat with a neighbour or acquaintance, keep it brief and
don't stop moving forward. If you're standing still, you're in the way.
It's fine to accept a free sample of some horrible new cordial, or a
bit of cheese on a stick, but bear in mind that the person handing them
out does not value your opinion. He's just there to stop you taking too
4. It's important to say "Thank you," when the person
ahead of you in the queue places a divider on the belt between your
shopping and hers, but eye contact is by no means mandatory. You're
shopping, not speed-dating.
5. There is nothing arch in the way
the robotic female voice at the self-checkout bay keeps saying:
"Approval needed." She doesn't care how much wine you're buying, so
don't talk back.
6. Occasionally an exotic or unfamiliar item
will confuse a new checkout employee. You may choose to see this as an
opportunity to indulge in some quiet middle-class self-loathing, but
the person behind you – me – is in a hurry. Under the circumstances
it's OK to say: "It's fennel."
7. No matter how many times
you've been asked it, it is not acceptable to answer the question with
the words: "No I do not have a ***** Nectar card."
And some from the comments section below the article
When you are in the checkout queue, get your wallet/purse out. You know
you are going to need it. It is not good form after you have the total
to go fishing around in your handbag for it
9. Do not fill up
the conveyor belt with 300 items, suddenly realise you've forgotten
something and disappear for about 20 minutes before returning with
another trolley-load of stuff.
10. Do not pretend you haven't seen the 'baskets only' sign and unload your trolley on that checkout.
Do not phone, text or listen to music on your headphones when someone
is serving you. How would you feel if they said 'Hold on a minute, I'm
just finishing off this game of Angry Birds'?
A simple procedure:
For lower levels, you could rewrite the points to make it more manageable.
Lead in to the topic - ask the students when they last went shopping
& what they bought. Tell them about a negative shopping experience
you`ve had. For example you bought loads of things in the supermarket
only to find at the checkout that you had forgotten to take any money
2. Students in pairs chat about their own negative shopping experiences.
Set up the pre-reading task - tell stds to imagine they have been asked
by a supermarket to draw up a list of shopping etiquette. Give an
example - Don`t block up the aisles chatting to friends.
4. Students chat - monitor.
6. Feedback - elicit some ideas & write 4 points on the board.
7. Set up the extensive reading task - students read quickly to see if the 4 points are mentioned in the list.
8. Students read > compare ideas with a partner.
9. Feedback - elicit answers.
10. Set up the more intensive task - students decide on the three most important points from the list.
11. Students read > compare ideas with a partner.
12. Feedback - elicit the three ideas chosen & why > same in the students` countries.
13. Language focus - choose vocab from the text to suit.
14. Roleplay - cards:
Cashier in the supermarket -
you are fed up with all the rude customers you`ve had today. And now
there`s this customer on the phone treating you like a servant. Refuse
to serve her/him until s/he has turned off the phone & is more
Customer - you
are busy person & get phone calls all the time. You have to
answer your phone wherever you are. You wish the cashier would hurry
The Independent newspaper has also picked up on the story:
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The best medicine
It is International Joke Day on July 1st, a good excuse to bring a
little more humour into the classroom so here's a warmer for your
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Jokes are difficult in another language so to be sure
all understand them, the ones below are children's jokes. You should
get a smile anyway, as well as few groans - but as long as there is a
reaction, I'm sure it'll be an enjoyable activity. The students might
then come out with their own jokes. There are lots of joke sites on the
net so hunt around if you need some different ones.
Here are some jokes, followed by some ideas on using them:
What do you call a boomerang that doesn't work?
What's the difference between an elephant & a strawberry?
The strawberry is red.
How can you tell that there is an elephant in your sandwich?
When it's too heavy to lift.
What do you call a camel with three humps?
Why couldn't the skeleton go to the dance?
Because he had no body to go with.
Why was 6 frightened of 7?
Because 7 8 9.
If the red house is on the right side and if the blue house is on the left side where's the white house?
When is a car not a car?
When it turns into a garage.
Where do you find a two legged dog?
Where you left him.
How do you get four elephants into a car?
Two in the front & two in the back.
Why did the chicken cross the road?
To get to the other side.
Why do birds fly south in winter?
Because it's too far to walk.
off by telling a few jokes to the class & introduce some of the
lexical field - to tell a joke, punchline, only joking, an in-joke, a
practical joke, humour etc - depending on level. You could discuss
whether they are good at telling jokes - I can never remember them
a. The most natural way would be to give each student a
joke, make sure they understand them, & they mingle & tell each
other their jokes.
b. Alternatively, you could separate the
jokes, the first & second lines, hand out a different first &
second line to each student & they have to mingle & find the
punchline for the first line joke that they have.
c. Or give out the jokes all jumbled up & the students, in pairs, match them up.
the end, get the students into small groups & they decide on the
best & worst jokes. You could also look at the type of jokes above
& discuss whether there are equivalents in the students' languages.
You could move into a translation activity.
laughter in the classroom has a lot to do with your attitude to the
event. If you expect & promote an enjoyable experience, combined
with spontaneous communication from the students & yourself, then
there are clearly more openings for humour.
For an excellent very practical book, 'Laughing Matters - Humour in the classroom' by Peter Medgyes (CUP, 2002)
Here are a couple of ideas to improve
spoken production at lower levels by incorporating the mother tongue:
an idea from Sarn Rich. On his summer courses, or any course you're
teaching, it's sometimes difficult to get your students to talk to each
other in English outside of the classroom. This is especially true when
the students are in their home country or there is a predominance of
one nationality in the class. They naturally use their mother tongue
for talking to fellow nationals.
While he was teaching in the UK
Sarn got his students to write down a list of conversational fillers
& expressions that they use in their own language. Then he got
to translate them into English. Examples of such language: well..., you
see, you know, I didn't catch that, do you see what I mean?, I'm not
sure about that, for example, really?, etc.
The students then
had to use these English fillers when talking in their own language to
someone of their own nationality. It was put to them as a game - to see
who could do it - & it did catch on. The students realised that
was a step in the right direction & as it was posed as a game,
self-consciousness was lessened.
If they can speak to each other in English then all the better but this
is a halfway house. Try it out!
must have seen your lower level adult learners or your younger learners
struggle to express sophisticated ideas with simple language &
up being very frustrated. Here is one way of helping with this problem.
an area crops up that the students really want to talk about &
is inevitable that they are going to use their native language to do
it. Stop them & introduce a series of vocabulary items in
that will come up in the conversation. Then let them get on with the
conversation in their own language but with the proviso that they use
the vocabulary, replacing their native words with the English ones.
doesn't have to be an area that crops up, you could plan an activity
around this. With your teenagers you could be looking at an area such
as Harry Potter & the discussion stage could let them use their
language with the English vocabulary within it.
activity, from your notes on the language they used in their native
language, look at a couple of areas & how they could say them
This then recognises the need & allows for an
expression of sophisticated ideas but also attempts to incorporate some
English at the same time.
This then recognises the need &
allows for an expression of sophisticated ideas but also attempts to
incorporate some English at the same time. Clearly this would only work
groups & it is preferable if they do use English rather than
their mother tongues but when the occasion arises try it out.
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