Speaking Activity: Entrepreneurs’ Conference (Passive Causative)

Focus: Practicing passive causative (“We’ll have our website designed by SmartWeb”) or active causative (“We’ll have SmartWeb design our website.”)

ESL Level: Upper-intermedate, Advanced

Time Needed: approx 40 minutes

Number of Students: 10-30

Materials Needed: None

Activity Summary

I designed this activity because I wanted my adult students to practice passive causative in a context other than beauty (“I had my nails painted.”) and repair (“They should have the roof repaired”). This is more of a business English context.

In the activity, students will discuss outsourcing and insourcing (or, more commonly, doing something ‘in house’). Students will create a business that offers services to other businesses. Then they will mingle with the other entrepreneurs to try to market their services. In the end, each group will decide (and present) which services they will have done (passive causative) and which they’ll do themselves. This activity should be done after teaching the nuts and bolts of the passive causative.

Note: This activity could be easily altered for practicing the active causative.

Passive Causative Speaking Activity: Execution

Part 1: Warm-up (10 minutes)

Write the word ‘outsourcing’ on the board. Elicit definition. Give some examples.

Write two discussion questions on board:

1)   What types of services are often outsourced by companies?

2)   What are the pros and cons of outsourcing?

Have students discuss for 5-10 minutes. When they are finished, put a list of services up on the board that companies outsource, for example: staffing, IT services, web design, marketing, tax accountancy, security. etc. You might get some suggestions that are not truly outsourcing such as catering — I doubt any companies would do this inhouse. You can still put these on the board.

Part 2: Outlining your Company (8 minutes)

1)   Put students into small groups (3 or 4). Have each group pick a company type (e.g. IT services) off the board.

2)   In groups, have them think a name for their company. Also, give them time to think of how they will make it successful, i.e. what will be special about their company? How will they get new business?

Part 3: Small-business Conference (15 minutes)

Write on board: “(Insert city name)’s Entrepreneurs’ Conference 2015”

Teacher to the class:

“The government has set up a conference to help entrepreneurs and small businesspeople succeed. You are now at the conference. You will meet other entrepreneurs who also have businesses. Try to:”

1)   Mingle and network. Talk about your business with others.

2)   Outsource your services to the other businesses. Try to get them to hire your company. Be convincing. Give quotes for your services if you’d like.

Part 4: Post-Conference Wrap-up (10)

Put the students back into their original groups. Have them discuss the offers they have received (2 minutes).

Finally, have the groups present which services they will have done to the class. For example, “We will have our marketing services provided by Ace Marketing because they have excellent rates.” Get each group to say one or two sentences using the passive causative.

– Matthew Barton of Englishcurrent.com (Copyright)


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4 comments on “Speaking Activity: Entrepreneurs’ Conference (Passive Causative)

  1. Rodrigo (Posted on 3-21-2015 at 11:25) Reply

    I loved your idea!! thanks a million.

  2. hadith (Posted on 5-3-2015 at 00:10) Reply

    hello, to my way of thinking, it would be better if it were more authentic since our focus is on communicative skills so the task must kindle students’ interest too.

  3. Lilian Zavala (Posted on 3-20-2018 at 19:08) Reply

    Thank you a lot! I think it’s a little difficult to design activities using the causatives, but you have saved me! :P

  4. jose romero (Posted on 2-12-2020 at 18:33) Reply

    great!! great !! great!! hadly do we, teachers, find oral activities like this to teach this topic.

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