Price Comparison is a simple activity designed for all levels of class from beginners to advanced and from General English to Business English, teenagers to adults.
It can be used to practice skimming as well as reading for specifics. Best done as a CALL activity, it can also be adapted for a normal classroom (see below).
Your class are going to find comparative prices for a range of products. The products should be focused towards the level and interests of your class. For example, a general teenage class could find prices for:
- a new iPhone
- a DVD of “The Expendables”
- the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary
For a business class you could be more specialized:
- 1,000 C4 padded envelopes
- 3 Ford Focus cars for company use
- 20m x 2m banner
And so on. The choice here is very flexible but you should have about 5 or so items on the list which should be printed out, one for each group in the class.
The next thing you need is a source for these items so you need to be sure your class is familiar with using the internet. Ideally your class will be able to use Google to find the items for sale, but be prepared to offer them ideas for ecommerce sites in English which will sell the item, e.g. Amazon, eBay, and so on.
Running the Activity
With the class as a whole select a single item from the list and ask for estimates as to the cost. Write up the suggestions and then break the class into small groups and have them go onto the internet to find prices. You can then come back together as a class and compare the prices they have found. At this point it might be appropriate (depending on the level) to talk about delivery costs and possible discounts for larger quantities than you’ve specified (especially if you are dealing with a business class).
You may need to cover the language needed here, for example: wholesale, retail, VAT, delivery, P&P
Once the class is familiar with the idea, hand out the lists of items, one per group. They now need to source all these items and find prices, note down the website and so on. As they do this you can circulate to help out with the language.
Finally the class can come back together to see which team has the best prices. Of course there is room for further discussion here, perhaps some items will take longer to deliver, some items may not be suitable quality and so on. This is where you can expand the discussion.
Variations on a Theme
- The activity can also be carried out as a non-CALL activity. In this case you’ll need to bring together a collection of catalogues and price lists – you’ll have to start to collect all the rubbish that comes through your letterbox for this!
- Themes can be brought into play here. Instead of a list of items you can prepare an itinerary to another country where the groups have to source a flight, accommodation, rental car and so on.
- If the class are allowed out, you could have them source the items from local shops or the market.
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