Widgets Inc.: Teach Outside the Box
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Join the Widgets Inc. Facebook Users' Group
[2019 01/20] If you're on Facebook, take a look at the Widgets Inc. Users' Group. We've set up this group for those who want to ask questions and share ideas related to the course. Note that it's a group specifically for teachers using (or thinking about) Widgets, so you'll need to tell us a little about yourself when you join.
Widgets co-author delivers keynote at Hokkaido JALT Conference
[2019 01/19] Marcos Benevides, Widgets co-author, delivered the keynote at the 2019 Hokkaido JALT Conference on January 26. His presentation was titled, "Why task-based learning for business communication". He also led a workshop on developing a themed task-based syllabus using a framework similar to the one used to create Widgets.
New videos and other updates
[2019 01/18] This week saw many improvements added to the Widgets Inc. teachers' wiki. Among the changes: all course videos are now available for streaming and download (captioned versions coming later this month), and a new syllabus template for 14 x 100-minute period courses. Also, the wiki is now fully functional as an editable wiki (login and admin approval is required).
Post-production continues on the final batch of Widgets course videos
[2019 01/09] Jack Henry, of Wide Island Films, has been working around the clock this holiday season to get the last videos ready. All videos have been recorded, and are now are in the final production stage. Please note that some of the currently available videos may be slightly re-edited as well. The estimated drop date is January 30. By the end of February, all videos will be finalized.
Widgets Inc. launches at JALT 2018!
[2018 11/24] Co-authors Marcos and Chris mark the launch the new edition of Widgets by sponsoring renowned ELT author, teacher trainer, and consultant Lindsay Clandfield as a plenary speaker. Attendee response to the new edition was enthusiastic to say the least! Also in this photo is our good friend Dorothy Zemach, a huge Widgets fan since the first Pearson edition in 2008.
Widgets Inc. partners with englishbooks.jp
[2018 06/01] Widgets Inc. has partnered with englishbooks.jp, a leading Japan-based distributor of English-language books. EBJ, who are already the exclusive distributors of Atama-ii Books's award-winning graded reader series, will also provide Japan-wide distribution of the Widgets Inc. student book.
Widgets is a business themed English communication course using a task-based approach to language learning. It is designed for classes of 12 to 40 young adult or older students who are placed into teams and must complete a series of connected projects.
Students simulate being interns at a startup company called Widgets Inc., where they brainstorm product ideas, pitch their ideas, perform market research, design ad campaigns, participate in a job interview, and more.
Widgets: A task-based course in workplace English (120 pp., A4 paperback) is available from the following distributors: englishbooks.jp . It is published by Atama-ii Books (2018) and was written by Marcos Benevides and Chris Valvona.
Widgets is great for mixed-ability classes from pre-intermediate to high-intermediate.
- CEFR B1 and above: students are engaged and challenged at their own level of achievement even while working together in mixed-level teams. Task situations provide useful language and excellent incidental practice for TOEIC speaking and writing components.
- Integrated skill development: students develop fluency and confidence in speaking, listening, reading, and writing via discussions, presentations, self and team evaluations, report writing, viewing video instructions, and many more highly-contextualized tasks.
- Meaningful assessment: students are assessed primarily by task outcome in accordance with Communicative Language Teaching and TBLT principles; a secondary focus on the use of language forms is also possible.
Widgets is arranged by task complexity, not language complexity.
The course starts with easy tasks, and quickly builds to more complex projects. This puts the focus and the challenge of the course on the practical use of English, rather than on passing language tests. It also encourages students to develop fluency and confidence in using English in ‘real world’ situations.
The Widgets project sequence, in order of increasing task complexity:
- Stage 1 Interns join the company orientation
- Stage 2 Teams prepare and pitch new product proposals
- Stage 3 Teams discuss and evaluate new product proposals
- Stage 4 Teams perform market research on the selected product
- Stage 5 Teams plan and present a multimedia advertising campaign
- Stage 6 Interns prepare a resume and cover letter, and interview for a job