Order Up!! Teacher's Guide



Lesson Summary


Many service retailers rely on some sort of standardized script and lingo to keep both employees and customers on-task and service operations running smoothly, efficiently and quickly. This task investigates several interactions within the Starbucks coffee shops and has students study the dynamics of the communications and prepare them for interacting in similar fast paced situations that rely on quick and efficient communication.

Starbucks is chosen as the model establishment for three reasons: #1 - It is a chain store found on nearly every corner in every neighborhood and is one of the most successful coffee shops with an internationally known brand. #2 – Starbucks has its own culture with its own lingo and procedures that customers are expected to adapt to. #3 - If you can survive ordering coffee through Starbucks fast paced and intense environment, you can survive any coffee shop.



High-intermediate to advanced level students




The task is to order a cup of coffee (prepared to the student’s liking) from a Starbucks cafe.



General Goals

  • Teach students how to communicate in a fast paced and stressful environment

  • Help students sound more like native speakers by teaching them how to use specific language/expression that is expected in particular environments

  • Provide students with exposure to new aspects of American culture



  • Teach students coping mechanisms for interacting in stressful environments using observation and analytical skills

  • Teach students the vocabulary and expressions associated with certain situations




  • Computer with internet access

  • Local Starbucks location

  • Notepad

  • Task website http://www.eslidea.com/583/task/


Task Instructions

Introduction: "Welcome to Starbucks"

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This section is to acquaint students with the Starbucks café and build schema. They may have already seen the building, heard others talk about it, or even been inside, but most likely have not become comfortable ordering according to Starbucks’ standards.

Section includes:

  • A brief intro of Starbucks

  • Jing presentation of the store layout



Step 1: Presentation of data: "Get familiar"

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This section is dedicated to input. Through data, it allows students to become familiar with the typical ordering process. It also presents students with situations that may be uncomfortable or awkward that they may have encountered.

Section includes:

  • A collection of scripts taken from Starbucks encounters

  • Video ordering scenarios

  • Audio ordering scenarios

  • "How to order" supplemental reading

  • An opportunity to discuss important factors in the process and compare key patterns that they notice in the interaction.


Step 2: Vocabulary: “Learn the Lingo”

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This section contains two parts: essential expressions and words used in the ordering process and lingo specific to Starbucks. The students are required to know the first part consisting of important words/expressions in the ordering process which are universal amongst most coffee shops. Also it explains which phrases are considered more polite (interrogatives) and hidden meanings. The Starbucks lingo is only for reference and does not have to be memorized.

This section includes:

  • A wiki where the students can review the basic vocabulary, phrases, expressions and specific ordering information.
    The wiki is also intended as a place where the students can add to the existing database of lingo.

  • Hotpotato vocabulary quizzes

  • "How to Speak Starbucks" supplemental reading



Step 3: Observations: “Watch the Action”

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After analyzing data and learning expressions/words associated with the ordering process at Starbucks, students will make their own observations of the interactions in order to help them apply it to their own interactions. This also teaches them how to use observation and analysis skills to cope with stressful situations by observing how others deal with a particular situation and how they can apply those methods to their own communication skills. This will include hesitation markers, such as "um" and "ah" that will help them during indecisive moments while they make a decision. Through the observations they will learn how to function in a particular environment, such as Starbucks' fast-paced and efficient atmosphere.

This section includes:

  • Ordering observation guidelines

  • A class blog: Students go to a few sample Starbucks locations and observe what goes on in the ordering process.Their observation data is entered into a group blog where they also input any thoughts they have that they would like to share with the group.

  • Post observation discussion. Teacher and students discuss the findings entered into the blog. This includes going over the store dynamics and how customers successfully manage to order their coffee.



Step 4: How to handle different situations: “Situation Setup”

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After analyzing data and observing different situations, students will reflect on the order process at Starbucks and share ideas and thoughts about ordering in stressful situation with their peers.

This section includes:

  • A wiki page with prompt questions. Students may contribute ideas on how to deal with difficult situations, tips for ordering, and what not to do at Starbucks when ordering.



Step 5: Role playing: “Lets place an order!”

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Students will put the knowledge that they have learned into action in the classroom through a role playing activity. Students will enact the ordering process that takes place at Starbucks and then as a class fieldtrip will actually order coffeet at a Starbucks location.

Role Play Instructions:


  • 4-5 customers (language learners)

  • 1 or 2 Baristas (native speaker(s)


  • Chalkboard with Starbucks Menu written on it

  • Fake money

  • Two desks

  • 4 empty starbucks cups (1 of each of the 4 available sizes)
  1. The customers (students) stand in line in front of the “Order Here” counter (desk) and will each take a turn placing an order with the Barista (teacher or class volunteer). Then they must wait for their drink at the “Pick Up” counter (desk). Students are required to be prepared to place their order while being quick and efficient. The other students will wait behind them, which will allow them to get used to the pressure of others waiting in line watching them as they perform. They are also expected to use Starbucks lingo and the proper order formula using the words/expressions that they learned during the vocabulary section. The students may refer to the board for drink names and sizes. (with many people looking at them). Teacher and students discuss the performance and brainstorm on ways to fix any potential problems in the process.

  2. When part one is complete and the teacher/students are comfortable, the class will take a field trip to the local Starbucks. They will each order their favorite drink at Starbucks using the expressions and lingo that they have learned. Their peers will observe in order to provide feedback to the student about his/her performance afterwards.

  3. The students will return to class and discuss their performance of ordering at Starbucks while they enjoy their coffee.



Additional Notes:

Throughout all pages in the lesson the student has access to the following linguistic support.

  • A quick Starbucks lingo guide (in case the words start getting confusing)

  • JUST FOR FUN: A little coffee break session in case the student needs to take a break and have some laughs.

  • An online dictionary feature (on the bottom of the page) to look up any unknown words.

  • An instant word look-up feature (by merely double clicking on a word, a pop-up window appears with definition)



Thank you!