Teaching Presentation Skills

An Example of Good Practice

Thanks to teaching legal English I heard about plain language once and have become its great proponent. At first I only investigated plain English which was a great solution for teaching legal English to pre-experienced students by a non-lawyer legal English teacher (me). I started to present about plain English at conferences and publish articles. In the meantime I learnt that there existed Plain Polish Section at the University of Wrocław, Poland with its founder Tomasz Piekot.

Tomasz Piekot has participated in the educational campaign Just plain (end of story) (Pol. Prosto i kropka) which aims at the simplification of written communication of public administration. The campain shows the reasons and benefits (for offices and citizens) of using a plain language. It explains what a simple language is and dispels fears related to the introduction of a simple language in public offices. Episode 6 of the tutorials explains how to prepare good presentations. In this episode Tomasz Piekot provides guidelines on how to draw up good presentation slides. He speaks Polish and the viewers can read Polish subtitles on the screen.

I thought that the guidelines in Tomasz Piekot’s tutorial were so practical and up to date that I decided to use the episode in my business English class for BBA (Bachelor in Business Administration) students who come from various countries, including Poland.

Procedure

  1. I have divided students into pairs in which one student was Polish and the other did not speak Polish.
  2. I played the tutorial and paused it when the new screen appeared and asked Polish students to translate Tomasz Piekot’s instructions into English for students who did not understand Polish.
  3. During the task non-Polish students were asked to take notes and then to prepare a summary in a form of one or two presentation slides drawn up in accordance with the guidelines.

The class was very dynamic with a lot of speaking, writing and slide designing. Polish students faced some translation challenges, e.g. how to translate mięsny jeż into English – a name which was used to describe an unattractive slide overloaded with information, colours and animations.

After the class I felt that the students really had enjoyed it and understood what a well designed presentation was.

If your students’ first language is Polish you can use the tutorial I recommend. If their L1 is different, find a good quality tutorial in their language and use in the classroom. They will not only learn how to design slides and present but practise translation skills at the same time.

The slide at the beginning of this post shows my summary of the tutorial in Polish and in English.

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