Widgets Inc.: Teach Outside the Box
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All Course Videos Now Available, Scripts Updated
[2019 02/25] Widgets course videos are now complete and available in two versions, captioned and uncaptioned. All videos can be viewed via streaming or downloaded from Vimeo. To download, follow the instructions at the bottom of each video. Note that some scripts have been slightly updated from the printed book.
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.
ABOUT WIDGETS INC.
Widgets Inc. 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 Inc.: 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. ISBN: 9781941140000
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