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Chinese IBM



 

Thursday December 9, 2004
Intermediate +

THE ARTICLE

‘Made in China’ just took on a new meaning as the world famous computer giant IBM sold its PC division to a Chinese company called Lenovo. China is bursting its way onto the world market to place its products on par with the world’s leaders in terms of quality and performance. The acquisition of IBM is a significant feather in the cap for China, a high-profile entry onto the world stage. “This acquisition will allow Chinese industry to make significant inroads on its path to globalization”, said Lenovo chairman Liu Chuanzhi. Lenovo will become the third largest PC maker worldwide, with annual revenues exceeding 10 billion US dollars, or eight per cent of world market share.

Lenovo has been a rags to riches story. It started in 1984 with around 25,000 dollars and slowly grew to become a household name in China, selling a wide range of electronics. It is a major sponsor of the 2008 Beijing Olympic games. Who had heard of Hyundai before the Seoul Olympics in 1988? The IBM deal gives Lenovo worldwide brand recognition, especially as they get to keep the ‘Thinkpad’ brand for five years. Other Chinese companies are also slowly rebranding China’s manufacturing image from that of ‘cheap and nasty’ to world-beating quality. Thirty years ago ‘made in Japan’ equaled ‘inferior product’, today we have Sony, Toyota, Panasonic, Toshiba, Honda…

WARM UPS / COOL DOWNS

1. CHAT:  Talk in pairs or groups about ‘IBM’, PCs, ‘made in China’, Lenovo, global brands, ‘made in Japan’…
To make things more fun, try telling your students they only have one minute (or 2) on each chat topic before changing topics / partners. Change topic / partner frequently to energize the class.

2. CHINA BRAINSTORM: Students call out anything they associate with China. Teacher writes on board as conversation themes for students to talk about.

3. SELL CHINA: Students take part in mini, energizing, get-in-the-mood role plays. Student A is the CEO of an ambitious Chinese company that wants to buy Student B’s company (Coca Cola, Microsoft, the BBC, Sony, Disney, McDonalds…). The role play theme is why these brand companies would fare better internationally as Chinese companies.

4. 2-MINUTE DEBATES: Students face each other in pairs and engage in the following (for-fun) 2-minute debates. Students A are assigned the first argument, students B the second. Rotate pairs to ensure a lively pace and noise level is kept:
(a)  Chinese goods will be the best in the world. vs. Not better than Japanese goods.
(b)  In 10 years Chinese companies will be household names. vs Only one or two Korean companies are household names.
(c)  ‘Made in China’ means ‘no good’. vs. That is changing fast.
(d)  IBM should have stayed in American hands. vs. Mini is now German, Chelsea Football Club is Russian, Harrods is Egyptian … that’s globalization.
(e)  The quality of Chinese IBM will go down. Vs. No. Up.
(f)  Our grand-children will be learning Chinese (CSL / CFL) and not English, as China will become the biggest economy in the world. vs. English will stay number one.

5. MY COUNTRY’S BRANDS: Students tell each other about the world-famous goods produced in their own countries.

PRE-READING IDEAS


 
 

1. WORD SEARCH: Students look in their dictionaries / computer to find collocates, other meanings, information, synonyms … of the words ‘world’ and ‘global’.

2. TRUE / FALSE: Students predict whether they believe the following statements are true or false:
(a)  IBM sold its PC division to a Chinese company called Lenovo.  T / F
(b)  China is making its way onto the world marketplace at a snail’s pace T / F
(c)  The acquisition of IBM is not so important for China.  T / F
(d)  Lenovo will become the third largest PC maker worldwide. T / F
(e)  Lenovo has been a riches to rags story. T / F
(f)  Lenovo is a major sponsor of the 2008 Beijing Olympic games.  T / F
(g)  Lenovo is in a similar position to Hyundai 20 years ago – soon to be a household name. T / F
(h)  ‘Made in China’ will mean ‘world class quality’.  T / F

3. PHRASE MATCH: Students match the following phrases based on the article (sometimes more than one combination is possible):

(a)

world

onto the world marketplace

(b)

PC

inroads

(c)

bursting its way

product

(d)

on

famous

(e)

feather in the

name

(f)

significant

par with

(g)

rags

nasty

(h)

a household

division

(i)

major

cap

(j)

cheap and

sponsor

(k)

inferior

to riches

4. PRE ARTICLE OPINIONS: Students ask each other about their opinions on the following statements from the article:
(a) ‘Made in China’ just took on a new improved meaning
(b)  China is bursting its way onto the world marketplace.
(c)  Lenovo will become the third largest PC maker worldwide.
(d)  Lenovo has been a rags to riches story.
(e)  Lenovo is a household name in China.
(f)  Thirty years ago ‘made in Japan’ equaled ‘inferior product’.

WHILE READING ACTIVITIES

1. GAP-FILL:  Put the missing words under each paragraph into the gaps.

Chinese IBM

‘Made in China’ just took on a new __________ meaning as the world famous computer giant IBM sold its PC division to a Chinese company called Lenovo. China is __________ its way onto the world marketplace to place its products on __________ with the world’s leaders in terms of quality and performance. The acquisition of IBM is a significant feather in the cap for China, a high-profile entry onto the world __________. “This acquisition will allow Chinese industry to make significant inroads on its __________ to globalization”, said Lenovo chairman Liu Chuanzhi. Lenovo will become the third largest PC maker worldwide, with annual revenues exceeding 10 billion US dollars, or eight per cent of world market __________.
 

 

stage
par
improved
share
bursting
path

Lenovo has been a rags to __________ story. It started in 1984 with around 25,000 dollars and slowly grew to become a __________ name in China, selling a wide range of electronics. It is a major __________ of the 2008 Beijing Olympic games. Who had heard of Hyundai before the Seoul Olympics in 1988? The IBM __________ gives Lenovo worldwide brand recognition, especially as they __________ to keep the ‘Thinkpad’ brand for five years. Other Chinese companies are also slowly rebranding China’s manufacturing image from that of ‘cheap and __________’ to world-beating quality. Thirty years ago ‘made in Japan’ equaled ‘inferior product’, today we have Sony, Toyota, Panasonic, Toshiba, Honda…

 

deal
household
get
riches
sponsor
nasty

 

2. TRUE/FALSE:  Students check their answers to the T/F exercise.

3. PHRASE MATCH: Students check their answers to the word match exercise.

4. QUESTIONS: Students make notes for questions they would like to ask the class about the article.

5. VOCABULARY:  Students circle any words they do not understand. In groups pool unknown words and use dictionaries to find the meanings.

6. ‘INTERESTING’:  Students underli ne anything that made them think “wow”.

POST READING IDEAS

1. GAP-FILL: Check the answers to the gap-fill exercise.

2. QUESTIONS:  Students ask the discussion questions they thought of above to their partner / group / class. Pool the questions for all students to share.

3. VOCABULARY: As a class, go over the vocabulary students circled above.

4. STUDENT-GENERATED SURVEY: Pairs/Groups write down 3 questions based on the article / Chinese business and companies. Conduct their surveys alone. Report back to partners to compare answers. Report to other groups / the whole class.

5. SELL CHINA:  Expanded role play on the mini role play in the Warmers section above.

6. ‘INTERESTING’:  Students talk about the things they underlined as interesting.

7. DISCUSSION: Students ask each other the following questions:
(a)  Do you have anything made in China? What do you think of it?
(b)  Are you ready to buy Chinese-made cars, fridges, mobiles, shoes, chocolate…?
(c)  Do you think China will become a leader in business and innovation?
(d)  Isn’t now the best time to invest in Chinese companies?
(e)  Isn’t it a better idea for us to be studying Chinese instead of English?
(f)  What do you think if China bought other global companies, like Disney or McDonalds?
(g)  Is the sale of its PC and laptop division a good move for IBM?
(h)  The boss of Dell, and many analysts, say the Lenovo/IBM merger won’t work. What do you think? Why are they being so negative?
(i)  What do you know about Chinese management style?
(j)  China has a poor image of sweatshop labor and Dickensian working conditions. Will this affect its image of household name goods?
(k)  Do you know any ‘rags to riches’ stories?
(l)  What does ‘Made in Japan’, ‘Made in Taiwan’, ‘Made in USA’, ‘Made in Myanmar’, ‘Made in Britain’, ‘Made in Germany’… mean to you?

8. I’D BUY IT: Students talk about whether they would be happy buying the following products made or grown in China:
- fridge
- chicken
- computer
- car
- shoes
- beer
- tea
- medicine
- weight-loss drug
- digital camera
- lettuce
- chocolate

Have students write down and share several things they would not buy (yet).

9. ‘WORLD’: Students make questions based on their findings from pre-reading activity #1.

HOMEWORK

1. VOCAB EXTENSION: Choose several of the words from the text. Use a dictionary or the Google search field to build up more associations / collocations of each word.

2. INTERNET: Search the Internet and find more information on IBM. Share your findings with your class next lesson.

3. CHINESE MICKEY: Make a poster outlining why the new Chinese Mickey Mouse will be better than the old one.

4. FULL STEAM AHEAD: You are head of the China Globalization Committee. Write a letter to your members explaining China’s global progress over the next ten years.

ANSWERS

TRUE / FALSE:
(a)  IBM sold its PC division to a Chinese company called Lenovo.  T
(b)  China is making its way onto the world marketplace at a snail’s pace F
(c)  The acquisition of IBM is not so important for China.  F
(d)  Lenovo will become the third largest PC maker worldwide. T
(e)  Lenovo has been a riches to rags story. F
(f)  Lenovo is a major sponsor of the 2008 Beijing Olympic games.  T
(g)  Lenovo is in a similar position to Hyundai 20 years ago – soon to be a household name. T
(h)  ‘Made in China’ will mean ‘world class quality’.  T

PHRASE MATCH:

(a)

world

famous

(b)

PC

division

(c)

bursting its way

onto the world marketplace

(d)

on

par with

(e)

feather in the

cap

(f)

significant

inroads

(g)

rags

to riches

(h)

a household

name

(i)

major

sponsor

(j)

cheap and

nasty

(k)

inferior

product

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