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Soft skills activities: ideas for your language classroom

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For those of your students looking to work or study abroad, reaching a proficient level of English is often just part of the equation. The soft skills that enable successful interaction in a professional environment are equally as important. We can play a pivotal role in developing these skills for our students through innovative classroom activities that go beyond traditional language teaching. Here are some engaging ideas for integrating soft skills activities for your students, into your English language classroom.

Negotiation 

Negotiation is a vital skill in both personal and professional life. To practise students’ negotiation skills, you could simulate real-life scenarios in the classroom where students must negotiate. 

  1. Set up a roleplay where students must agree on a deal with a client or a group activity with colleagues. To prompt students, begin the activity by eliciting useful phrases for expressing agreement, making suggestions, reacting to offers and proposing counteroffers. This activity not only helps language practice but can also bring awareness in understanding cultural differences in negotiation settings.
  2. Have students negotiate a contract with imaginary budget constraints and project timelines. Tell them that they’ll need to use strategic language to persuade the other party while also compromising where necessary. This activity is a good way for students to learn how to react when they do and don’t get the outcome they may have been expecting. 

Time management

Effective time management is a key component of both personal and professional success. 

  1. Create activities that focus on prioritising tasks based on their urgency and importance. For example, scenarios where students have limited time to discuss agenda items in a meeting or have to balance multiple responsibilities like study, work, social commitments and personal health.
  2. Have students plan a week’s schedule. They must allocate time to various activities, justify their choices and reflect on the potential outcomes of their decisions. This can be done individually or in groups to encourage discussion and negotiation of priorities.

Collaboration and teamwork

Teamwork can be developed through group activities in the classroom. 

  1. Design tasks that require students to collaborate in different ways. Tasks like these allow students to showcase their strengths and learn from each other to improve on their weaknesses. For example, building a physical structure with limited resources or solving complex puzzles.
  2. Set up a classroom scenario where students must solve language-based puzzles together to ‘escape’ the classroom. When each clue is solved, there are new vocabulary or grammar points students must work together to solve and/or use, to progress through the activity. 

Leadership and active participation

Teaching leadership skills can involve encouraging students to take initiative and lead group activities or discussions. 

  1. Activities that simulate business meetings or project planning can give students the chance to practise speaking up and leading a team.
  2. You could organise a ‘project launch’ where groups of students plan a new product or service. Assign different roles to each student (elicited and researched at the start of the lesson), such as project manager, marketing director or finance officer. Each student must contribute from the perspective of their assigned role. This activity promotes leadership and active participation.
  3. You could have students manage a ‘virtual’ or ‘imaginary’ business, to help them practise English they would typically use in business communication, decision-making and team management. This can be a fun and effective way to apply language skills in a practical, engaging context.

By incorporating soft skills activities into your classroom, you can provide students with a more holistic educational experience that prepares them for real-world challenges. These activities build language proficiency and confidence in English. They also equip students with the necessary skills to navigate professional and personal situations effectively, in global settings.

How else are you helping your students prepare for creating their future English-speaking selves?

For more ideas to help second language learners develop advanced communication skills, click here. Or read our paper for in-depth advice on teaching global skills.

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