top of page

Each authentic reader contains edited transcripts of conversations with people in Asia talking about their working lives. Readers enjoy an intimate glimpse at various jobs as well as the cultures of the interviewees. While these readers are not graded for second language learners, they are naturally easier than most native speaker texts because either the interviewer or interviewee was speaking a second language, and many of the same occupation-related themes recur. Recommended for school libraries and intermediate to advanced level classes. Two worksheets are available on the PDF below. One gives students the opportunity to consider the societal benefits and harms that each occupation offers, and the other provides space for readers to describe how appropriate each job is for them and why.


Benefit / Harm & Personal Appropriateness Worksheet (PDF)

Utilizing Asians at Work readers

  • Anyone who has an interest in career design or Asian culture, including teachers or students who are intermediate level or above.

  • School or university libraries should have copies for independent reading.

  • Reading classes. One unique point is that students will be reading conversations. This will appeal to many language learners.

  • Regular communication classes. Ideas for utilizing an Asians at Work book for a regular communication are below.

Benefits of doing partner interviews in class:

Make interviewing a theme. With an interview, one student, the interviewer, is responsible for making questions and sustaining the conversation. In a typical English conversation activity in Japan, both partners are hesitant to take the lead. Making the exchange an interview makes it clear which partner is responsible to get the other person talking.


The interviewee, of course, also has some pressure. He or she should be told to answer in as much detail as possible.


The Class

I used Southeast Asians at Work with 28 second year English education majors. They were intermediate level and motivated.


During the first class I had students find a partner and choose one of the interviews in Southeast Asians at Work. I discouraged them from choosing the long and/or difficult interviews (numbers 2, 9, 10, 14, 15, 26, 27, 28, 34 and 37). Each week from week 3 one or two pairs of students introduced/taught their interview to the class. During week two I gave an example. To prepare, students:

  • created a vocabulary list of difficult words from that interview

  • created a vocabulary quiz

  • created a short comprehension quiz

  • practiced pronunciation and intonation of the interview

Several before teaching the lesson, one of the two students sent me a Word file containing the vocabulary and comprehension quizzes. I checked, made corrections, made copies, and brought to class.

Pairs of students taught their lesson by pre-teaching vocabulary, reading the interview (by Q & A), having the rest of the class practice reading, then having students do the comprehension questions. This has gone very smoothly.


In-class Interviews

We have also practiced interviewing partners. One website I referred to for interview question and answer ideas is here.


We also looked at the Humans of New York website. I displayed interviews that were most understandable and interesting for students and explained that the interviewer (Brandon) talks to the interviewee for 15-20 minutes before choosing a sentence or paragraph of something the person said that will move readers. For a nice youtube video of Brandon explaining how he photographs people click here.


I match students randomly with a partner to interview in class. Sometimes they have set questions. Other times I tell they to do a "Humans of New York" style interview whereby they dig and dig to hear and record something interesting or moving. Some starter questions I suggest are:


  • Tell me about a funny/sad/happy/exciting/scary experience you had.

  • What is your best memory?

  • Who do you love most? Why?

  • What do you love most? Why?

  • What do you hate? Why?

  • Tell me about your family/hobby?

  • Who has inspired you? What did they do or say?

  • Where do you most want to travel? Why?

  • What's your future dream?

  • Where do you most want to live? Why?

  • Has anything been bothering you lately?

  • How is your life at this university?

  • Do you believe in God?

  • What kind of movies/books do you like?


Students write a few sentences about the interview which I then compile onto one paper for all to read (my plan is to have them put this information on a Weebly website).


Skype interviews

We did interviews with students at a university in the Philippines.

JAW wee cover2 2020.png
2. SAAW Cover 2020.jpg
1. CAW wee cover 2020.tiff
KAW cover 2020.jpg
TWAW cover 2020.tif
bottom of page