Teaching and learning resources

Building site and eldercare materials (2013/14)

These materials have been designed for teachers of people with limited competence in English who come from other language backgrounds with the goal of becoming eldercare support workers or who plan to work in the construction industry. The resources are designed for use in workplace-focused ESOL classes or communication training courses in English-speaking countries, especially, but not exclusively, Australia and New Zealand. The resources could also be used in one-to-one tutoring contexts. The resources have been developed from recordings of ordinary everyday interactions in eldercare facilities and on building sites.

Working on a building site: An ESOL resource

Unit One:

Unit Two:

Unit Three:

Unit Four:

Unit Five:

Working in an eldercare facility: An ESOL resource

Unit One:

Unit Two:

Unit Three:

Workplace talk in action: An ESOL resource (2010)

Nicky Riddiford and Jonathan Newton

Workplace Talk in Action

This unique textbook is designed for business/workplace ESOL classes or communication training courses. Each unit in the book is based around recordings of workplace interactions (including e-mails) in English as they naturally occurred in a range of professional workplaces. The units each contain a range of activities to encourage reflection, discussion, analysis and communication practice focused on particular kinds of interaction and speech functions that are difficult to manage interculturally such as requesting, refusing, disagreeing, complaining, and apologising. The emphasis on how people really interact at work in English highlights the many subtle features of communication which can be unwittingly left out of artificially constructed conversations. Through this book we aim to provide learners with critical, analytic tools for interpreting workplace conversations in English in relation to contextual features (e.g. participants, setting, nature of the interaction). This approach aims to empower learners of English for business or professional purposes to more effectively undertake their own analyses of what is going on in workplace interactions and to develop awareness of the communicative choices available to them and the consequences of choices on the effectiveness of their workplace communication. Recordings of the leading dialogue in each unit are available as downloadable mp3 files on purchase of the book. Access to these recordings is via a URL link provided in the book.

Table of contents

  • Introduction p.1
  • Unit 1 Small talk p. 9
  • Unit 2 Requesting p.19
  • Unit 3 Refusing p.35
  • Unit 4 Making suggestions p.53
  • Unit 5 Disagreeing p.67
  • Unit 6 Making complaints p.81
  • Unit 7 Making apologies p.99
  • Tips for effective communication p.113
  • Role-plays p.115

You can purchase a copy from

Vic Books - (tel. 04 280 6200)

Sample Unit - Unit Two: Requesting/Giving Instructionspdf120KB

Resource kit: talk that works (2002) (out of print)

Talk that Works
Talk that Works is a flexible training resource for:
  1. exploring the communication strategies used in effective multicultural workplace teams, and/or
  2. learning about the discourse features of spoken English in typical New Zealand factories.

This resource kit will be of interest to workplace trainers, English language teachers, human resources professionals and others involved in the development of workplace language, literacy and communication skills. The kit includes a video and a handbook for teachers/trainers:

Video (37 minutes running time)

Part I: a 10-minute video sequence introducing four key elements of effective communication in multicultural factory teams;

Part II: five repeated sequences from the main video and a selection of 14 unscripted interview and interaction clips, suitable as stimulus materials for language teaching and communication training.


Includes transcripts of the spoken and written texts on the video, explanatory notes for teachers/trainers and suggestions for using the materials. The video and accompanying handbook are based on actual footage of workplace interaction and interviews with factory staff. These recordings were collected by Maria Stubbe and Pascal Brown as part of a Language in the Workplace action research project on communication in multi-cultural factory teams.