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Conversation Topic: Work

The Lesson

If you could have any job in the world, what would you like to be? Why?

Do you think it's fair for your boss to ask you to work overtime for no extra pay? Why
or why not?

If you are paid for your overtime, would you prefer to be paid in money or in "time off."

Which of the following benefits is most important to you in a job and why?
A high salary
Good working conditions
A boss you enjoy working for
Co-workers you like
Little or no overtime
Good opportunities for advancement
The opportunity to use the training and skills you have acquired
A job near where you live
The opportunity to travel
Flexible working hours
Are there any of these not important to you?
Are there any benefits not on the list that you would like to have?

Suppose you are in charge of hiring a new employee for your firm. You have to decide
between two persons. One is a person with many years of experience in a company very
similar to yours who has only a high school education. The other person is a recent
university graduate with a degree in a field closely related to your company's business.
Which person would you choose?

Most business in North America compensate their employees according to the "merit
principle." Businesses in many other parts of the world have traditionally relied on
seniority to determine how much pay and other benefits a worker should receive. Which
do you think is the better system? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

Are you a Good Socializer

Gerard Counihan
profesorSs [at]

Level: Adults, intermediate and up

Activity A

This activity is designed to get the students talking, and so should not provoke moments
of tension or embarrassment. It should be done with humour.
Answer these questions.

When you are introduced to a stranger, do you normally become tense?

Do you try to be the centre of attention of groups?
Do you consider yourself a successful person, socially speaking?
Do you find it difficult to demonstrate in public some of your personal skills (such as
telling jokes, dancing, singing ...)?
Do you have problems when speaking in public?
Are you happy/satisfied with your own image?
Would you eat alone in a crowded restaurant?
Do you feel quite skilled at socialising
Do you accept praise gracefully and naturally?
During meetings/encounters with strangers, do you listen more than speak?
Do you show your feelings to friends you don't know very well yet?
Do you go red when someone shouts after you in public?
Do you feel inferior when introduced to an important person?
Do you often think that your contributions to a debate can be relevant?
When you are going to be presented in public, do you sweat, shake a bit, and feel
insecure ...?
Would you be able to imitate a famous person?

(Loosely based on a test from QUO, June 1998, Spain.)

Calculate your score.

If you said YES to questions 1, 5, 10, 12, 13 and 15, give yourself a point for each YES.
If you said NO to questions 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 ,9, 11, 14 and 16, give yourself a point for
each NO.
If you scored less than 6, your ability to make friends is acceptable.
Between 6 and 10, you have/have had difficulty relating to other people socially.
More than 10 points, new situations and getting to know new people is hard for you.


Discuss any of the above which may prove interesting.

Activity B

As a related activity, you could show them the following list of social types:
Social Types

The star
The prankster
The complainer
The pedant
The shy boy (+girl)
The flatterer
The serious person
The cultured person

Get the students to define, in their own way, each of these arbitrary names. They are
supposedly, the main types of characters which abound on

the planet Earth. Are there any more types of people? The extrovert? The introvert?

Here are some definitions of the above terms:

The star: Always tries to talk about himself, and hates it when the chat moves into
unknown territory.

The prankster: Great fun, but a bit tiring after a while, especially if the conversation is
The complainer: Never happy, always giving out.
The pedant: Pretending to know more, and shows it off. In the end, people avoid rather
than admire him.
The shy boy: He can make those who don't know him feel uncomfortable, and trigger
sympathy in others. A complicated social animal.
The flatterer: Manipulates people. At first, we like it, but in the end ...
The serious person: No visible sense of humour. Makes others uncomfortable, seems to
set the pace sometimes. However, he doesn't have to be boring, and can make a good
friend. Trustworthy.
The cultured/learned person: Usually, a highly valued person, because we like to be
with people who know more than us. Once he doesn't show it off!


Get your students to select the heading, or their mix of headings, which most fit(s)
their personality.
Which trait predominates most?
Have they parents or work-mates who conform to one or more of these headings?
Their boss? Their partner?
Are there any other categories not mentioned here?
Are there any gender-based differences?
Are people a mix of all of these notions?