Number one for English language teachers

Introduction to HR management

Level: Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Article

David Baker gives a comprehensive overview of his Human Resources series, detailing the components of each lesson plan and providing tips on how they can be used in the classroom.

This series of lessons is primarily aimed at pre-work-experience students studying Human Resources (HR), either as a specialist subject or as part of a general business studies course. However, most of the material can also be used successfully with trainees who are actually working in HR departments (or are preparing to do so).

Everyone working in a medium- to large-sized company or organization will inevitably come into contact with an HR department, from the time they apply for a job and then continuing throughout their career. As a consequence, they are bound to encounter the procedures, underlying principles, and specialist vocabulary of HR during the course of their working lives. This material should therefore be of interest to all students of workplace English, and not just HR specialists.

The content of the material is sourced from two textbooks used by UK undergraduate students of HR:

  • Strategy and Human Resource Management (3rd ed.) by Peter Boxall & John Purcell, © Peter Boxall and John Purcell 2011, published by Palgrave Macmillan
  • Human Resource Management: Theory and Practice (4th ed.) by John Bratton & Jeff Gold, © John Bratton & Jeff Gold 2007, published by Palgrave Macmillan

Being partly based on UK textbooks, these lessons look at HR practice primarily from a British perspective. However, there are frequent opportunities and prompts for students to compare the examples presented with HR practice in their own countries and/or companies.

The following six topic areas are covered:

  • Selection and recruitment
  • Performance appraisal
  • Training
  • Health and safety
  • Industrial relations
  • Remuneration

For each of these topics, there are four lessons provided: Worksheet A, Levels 1 and 2; and Worksheet B, Levels 1 and 2.

For each lesson, Worksheet A is built around a reading text, and Worksheet B around a listening text. Level 1 is aimed at Intermediate to Upper Intermediate-level students; Level 2 at Upper Intermediate to Advanced level.

Each individual lesson is designed to provide approximately two to three hours of classroom material. Most lessons contain options for project work and homework, both of which would require more time, either in class and/or for pre-class preparation. There is also a lot of scope for teachers to add material of their own on each of the topic areas should they wish to do so.

The material is designed so that the six topics can be studied in any order. Similarly, for each topic, Worksheet A can be used independently from Worksheet B, although there is often some deliberate partial overlap in topic coverage between the two worksheets.

Accompanying teacher’s notes give suggestions for using the material on an activity-by-activity basis.

Worksheet A

The Worksheet As are all based around a reading text taken from either Boxall & Purcell or Bratton & Gold. The reading texts in each lesson have sometimes been slightly adapted in order to fit in with the target language level and specific accompanying tasks (especially at Level 1). However, adaptation has deliberately been kept to a minimum in order to develop students’ confidence in dealing with texts written in an academic style and with rich vocabulary input.

Students are, therefore, working with an authentic text that comes directly from HR textbooks used by first-language and proficient speakers of English. This should be possible even at the lower of the two levels and the realization that they are capable of working with texts of this kind should be highly motivating for learners.

Typical Worksheet A activities include:

  • A pre-reading question eliciting ideas and opinions from students which they can then compare with the content of the reading text.
  • Comprehension-checking activities, designed to establish that students have properly understood the detailed content of the text.
  • Vocabulary development activities, focusing especially on vocabulary that is specifically related to – or useful for – HR.
  • Discussion topics and project work designed to get students talking about the concepts presented in the text, to use the structures and vocabulary they have been taught and to develop their general speaking skills. A number of the project work activities can also be set as writing assignments.
  • (At Level 2) Webquest activities designed to develop students’ skills in carrying out and making use of independent research on the internet.

Worksheet B

Worksheet B activities are based on an audio text. There is a similar range of task types to Worksheet A, except that there is a strong emphasis on the skills of listening for gist and note-taking from an aural presentation.

Full audio scripts are provided. There are suggestions about how they might be used in the teacher’s notes but teachers are free to exploit these in whatever ways they think appropriate.

About the books

Strategy and Human Resource Management (3rd ed.) by Peter Boxall & John Purcell. The new edition of this market leading text provides an authoratitive yet accessible account of the strategic role of Human Resource Management in organizations. Find out more about the book on the Palgrave website here.

Human Resource Management: Theory and Practice (5th ed.) by John Bratton & Jeff Gold combines comprehensive text and web material to help you understand the context of the rapidly changing contemporary workplace and the importance of Human Resource Management within it.


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