Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Stevie's Job Search: An Exercise in CV Writing

For some time now I have been waiting for the right moment to use an old favourite with my current pre-intermediate class: a CV writing lesson which also aims to introduce learners to the present perfect. * Last night seemed an ideal opportunity to try this out, as my class seemed particularly alert and receptive and we had also come to the end of a course book unit.  What’s more, last week’s lesson had introduced the class to a list of character adjectives which were crying out to be recycled! Here’s what we did…

I began the lesson by announcing that Adult Learning had changed its recruitment policy: from hereon in the learners would be responsible for selecting and recruiting their own English teachers. We brainstormed the essential qualities a good English teacher must possess. Friendly, sociable, reliable, qualified and experienced were some of the learners' requirements.

I then distributed a CV from a prospective English teacher: a certain Stevie McCue.  The CV was a page in length, and although  it was correctly formatted it displayed sizeable gaps in the employment section, with large swathes of unaccounted for time.  Stevie  had a month of English teaching experience, and prior to this had worked in bars and surf schools around the world.  Stevie’s accompanying letter alluded to his reasons for wishing to move to Shetland, and hinted at some “problems” in his personal life. Learners scan read the CV, in order to see whether or not they thought Stevie would be the kind of teacher they might like. 

After an initial reading, learners revisited the personal specifications they had compiled at the beginning of the letter.  In last night’s class, responses were mixed, with some learners rejecting the application outright, and others wishing to give the candidate a trial period. One female learner asked if Stevie had enclosed a photo! 

The covering letter provided the learners with some contextualised examples of the present perfect: I have travelled the world, I have worked in a number of bars etc. I drew a time line of Stevie’s  life on the board and elicited sentences about past events in  his life. I then wrote some of the present perfect sentences on the board and we discussed differences in meaning and in form between the simple and perfect versions of the past.

Next week the learners will have the opportunity to write their own CVs. We will begin the lesson by reminding ourselves of some of the failings of Stevie’s CV. This can take several lessons, but the achievement the learners feel when they have produced a presentable CV is well worth the effort.

And Stevie? He may well make another appearance. Watch this space…

*I got this idea from Rachel, a fellow DELTA course participant who I met in London last year – thanks Rachel!  

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