Working at Google – A conversation lesson for adults


I realize it’s been some time since I last posted a lesson, let alone a conversation lesson. I’ve received some comments from teachers who have missed them, so here we go again.

I’ve said it elsewhere that LinkedIn can be a great source of texts that are business related and a couple of weeks back I found one from a man explaining why he had left Google. His story and reasons struck a chord with me and I hope it will do same with your students.

Start the lesson by showing students Google’s logo and asking the question below.

Why I left Google - LOGO.jpg

  • How much do you know about Google (the company, not the website)?

Give students a minute or two to brainstorm ideas than elicit what they know. Some of my students mentioned this film. If your students do too, use can use it to segue into the next part of the lesson.

Tell students they are going to watch a video about being an intern at Google.

  • What do the interns think of the atmosphere at Google?
  • What kinds of backgrounds do they have?
  • Are they treated differently from other employees because they are interns?
  • How much responsibility do they have?

(Play the video up to 3:45)

Get students to compare their answers in pairs and then elicit answers from the whole group. After that, put students in pairs or trios to discuss these questions:

  • Are interns at your company treated like regular employees? Why (not)?
  • Does Google look like a good place to work at? Why (not)?

Give students some time to discuss them. If they work at big companies, they will likely have a lot to say about the topic. Nominate some students to sum up what their pair/trio had to say and ask other students whether they agree or disagree.

Once you have done that, tell students they are going to read an article about a similar topic. The original text is quite long and can be found here. My adapted version is below.

Why I left Google (LinkedIn)

Show show the title of the article (Why I left Google) and give them 1 minute to think about possible reasons for an employee to leave such a successful company. Board their suggestions and give them a minute to look at the text and check their predictions.

After that, show students these specific information questions and give them moe time to finish reading the text.

  • Did the author have experience in sales?
  • Why did he think the job was perfect for him?
  • Is it easy to be a new Googler? Why?
  • What help did he seek when things weren’t going well?
  • Who made him realize the problem? Why?
  • Does he think he made the right decision? Why?

Allow students to compare answers in pairs and then elicit answers from the while group.

As a follow-up put students in new pairs or trios and tell them to discuss these questions:

  • Do you think having a child changed/would change your perspective on life? How so?
  • Is David crazy for leaving Google? Why (not)?
  • How important is it to love your job, in your opinion? Why?

Alternatively, you can go back and exploit the vocabulary from the text. These are the expressions that appear in bold in the PDF.

be upfront (about)

be steep

be/feel overwhelmed

be exhilarating

to have mixed feelings about

to vouch for

to settle

to look up to

Either give students definitions for them to match or ask them to guess the meaning of the words/expressions in pairs (which works better with higher levels). Either way, concept check the expressions before moving on to practice exercises. Make sure you also work on pronunciation, particularly for exhilarating.

For some contextualized practice, you could get students to discuss the questions below. Something I think is a good idea is to present different collocations for the same word (as in ‘a steep learning curve’ and ‘steep prices’).

  • Should employees always be upfront with their bosses?
  • Do you ever feel overwhelmed at work?
  • Do you have mixed feelings about what is going on in Brazil at the moment?
  • Did you face a steep learning curve in your first job?
  • What kinds of products do you have to pay steep prices for?
  • Do you think bungee jumping is exhilarating or scary? Would you ever do it?
  • Which of your work colleagues would you vouch for if they asked you for a recommendation?
  • Who did you look up to when you were a child?

Thanks for reading


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