ESL Ideas: Using the Apprentice Idea in Teaching Speaking

By Chuah Kee Man (

Focus Lesson objectives

: Speaking skills : Upon successful completion of this activity, students will be able to develop their presentation/persuasive skills (can be made more specific depending on what is covered in the syllabus) : Secondary school students – Forms 3-5 (brief can be modified to suit other learners) : Suitable for 30 students : Notes, papers, marker pens (PowerPoint slides can be used if schools are equipped with laptops/projectors) : (Optional – teacher can begin the session with The Apprentice theme song – US/UK/Asia Version). Useful links for the song

Target learners

Class size Materials needed


Preliminary Round 1. Students will be divided into teams of 6 and each team will have to come up with a name and elect a team leader (project manager) 2. All teams will listen to the first Brief (teacher can invite a colleague to give the brief to add more fun) and jot down important points. The Brief: The Smelly Business The first task for you today is related to a place which all of us can’t live without. Toilets! We know how bad and dirty most of our toilets are and today, you are required to suggest the best ways to keep our toilet clean in a rapid fire 5-minute presentation. The top 2 teams with the most convincing and practical ideas will proceed to the next round. You are given only 20 minutes to prepare.


3. Students are allowed to use any available resources to come up with their ideas for the first task (e.g. mind-map on a large sheet of paper). 4. Teacher provides a list of expressions (refer to Appendix) that can be used in their presentation. 5. Teacher will monitor the team activity as they are working on the task. Team Leader should be told to guide and assist the team members. 6. Once the time is up, each group will have to present their ideas and teacher assesses the quality of each presentation by giving feedback only at the end and not during the presentation (similar to how clients in The Apprentice give their comments at the end of each task). Summary of their performance should be given and the top 2 teams are selected. To make it more interesting, teacher can make use of The Apprentice boardroom-style lines (If needed):  I’ve heard enough….  What makes you think your ideas are good…  Your ideas are not good enough… 7. The top 2 team will proceed to the next round while the remaining team will now function as the external observers (or general public). The Challenge Round 1. The top 2 teams will now compete for the second task. All teams (including the “losing” ones) will have to listen to the brief since everyone will be involved. The Brief: The Mobile Trouble Congratulations Team A and Team B! Good job in the previous task. For this task, we will be shifting our focus to the mobile phones. Many parties have said mobile phones create a lot of problems at school. To prove this wrong, you are required to come up with a 6minute live advertisement (sketch) promoting how mobile phones can be useful in schools. You are given only 15 minutes to prepare and you may use any resources available. The other teams will be judging your advertisement. The team with the highest votes wins and the losing team will see me in the boardroom. 2. As the two teams are preparing, the teacher will call the leaders of the “losing” teams and asked them to make sure all team members take note of their live advertisement (sketch) as the teacher will randomly


3. 4.


6. 7.


call some of them to comment (this helps them to stay focus and not doing other things). Then, the two teams present their live advertisements. The teacher will randomly call some of students from other teams to comment first before allowing the casting of votes (raising hands will do or you make it more anonymous by writing the team name and put in a bowl). Teacher count the votes and announce the winner. The losing team stay (in a boardroom like arrangement) and each member are given 1 minute to convince the teacher not to fire the team. Teacher can accept or reject the arguments but the whole idea is given them a chance to explain why their presentation is better. Teacher then has to summarise the performance of each team and highlight several aspects that they can improve especially in terms of language. Teacher may want to prepare some rewards to everyone for their efforts (the winning team should get something better of course. )

Happy Trying!

Important Note: Ideas for the brief is originally from the author but you are free to modify to suit your classroom needs. The Apprentice logo and format are used only for educational purposes and not for commercial use.



Useful Expressions for Presentation
1. Introducing a topic  First of all, let me thank you for being interested in my presentation.  I would like to talk about…  I would like to give you some background information about…  What I would like to present you today is…  The purpose of my presentation is…  The objective of my presentation is…. 2. Structuring ideas  I’ve divided my presentation into [number] parts.  My presentation covers [number] sections.  Firstly…, secondly…, thirdly…, next…  Let’s turn now to …  The next issue/topic/area I’d like to focus on is…. 3. Giving examples and an explanation by using media  A good example of this is….  To illustrate my point, I’ll show you a slide, poster, transparency…  For example, this picture shows…  I´ve prepared a picture that shows the reason why…  If you look at this slide…  As an illustration,... 4. Making a final statement  To sum it all up, we can say that…  All in all, we may say…  To recap, I have presented….  To conclude,  So, to remind you of what I’ve covered in this presentation, …  Let's summarise briefly what we've looked at...

Self-access: Students can learn more about public speaking and presentations at:
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