Consumer Product Reviews: A Popular, Practical ESL Speaking Activity

Let ESL Students Give Product Reviews in the New Year!

Do you let your English students write and deliver product reviews? Consumer reviews help ESL students develop research skills, use critical thinking, and share their consumer choices.

The giving and receiving of gifts has become a central feature of Christmas, Hanukkah, winter solstice and New Year celebrations. We live – for worse or for better – in a consumer age. English language learners, around the world, share in this winter shopping spree. Product reviews allow them to talk about their gift selections and holiday gifts. Plus, being a savvy consumer remains a critical adult life skill.

Many ESL students, especially young, hip, and wealthy teenagers and college students have also bought into – literally – the odd belief that “you are what you have”. Therefore, these English language learners and experienced consumers often love to share their “insights” about consumer products. Product reviews speak to their lifestyles, passions, and curiosity.

As an ESL teacher, I use consumer product reviews to teach the difference between fact and opinion and identify critical thinking skills. The assignment lends itself to reviewing a few key concepts like “details matter” and “numbers add precision” while introducing hedging language. Of course, engaging student interests also leads to better classroom discussions and more use of authentic language.

You can also design a very simple presentation form so everyone can provide peer feedback. Result? The students receive written feedback on their product reviews from you (the teacher) and their classmates. Again, teenagers being teenagers, they love to read about themselves and the feedback. If possible, I also suggest videotaping the student reviews and posting them on a class website for both self and peer reviews.

Teaching high school students possess many challenges, beginning with capturing and holding their interest. Personally, I have found teaching slightly older undergraduate students far more satisfying – and far easier. But I have also had considerable success in short term IEP summer programs with that tough audience. Product reviews have always been a hit!

Here is both my short assignment sheet and a product review worksheet for ESL students.
———————————————————————————————————-
YOUR TURN: GIVING A PRODUCT REVIEW

You have probably bought thousands of items as a consumer. You have looked at and considered thousands more. You can’t buy everything; you have to pick and choose the products that fit you and your lifestyle.
Choose a single product and prepare to give a brief product review.

Your product review should include:
• a description of the product
• the way the product is used
• the cost of the product
• a comparison with other, similar products
• a recommendation to buy or not buy the product
• a reason for your recommendation
• a rating on a scale of 1-5
—————————————————————————————–
PRODUCT REVIEW WORKSHEET

PRODUCT:
PURPOSE:
AUDIENCE:
USE:
COST:
COMPETITORS:
RECOMMENDATION:
REASON:

RATING:
_____________________________________________________________

Finally, I also encourage students to both visit Consumer Reports and other websites to collect information for their reviews – and consider submitting their reviews to appropriate websites. Seeing their reviews in print – in English – often gives students additional motivation to give a quality consumer review!
As an old American cereal commercial used to say, “try it – you’ll like it!”

Ask more. Know more. Share more.
Create Compelling Conversations.
Visit www.CompellingConversations.com

3 comments

  1. Students writing about cars can use my site as a resource for car reliability, fuel economy, and pricing information:

    http://www.truedelta.com

    They might also consider posting their reviews at Epinions.com.

  2. Thanks for visiting and sharing your fine, growing website evaluating cars.

  3. Thank you for your kind words. Visit again!

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