298. The Bank Robbery (Part 1)

Hello listeners, welcome to Luke’s English Podcast. In this episode we’re going to plan a bank robbery. Not a real one – if any police are listening to this I should say it’s just a simulation, I’m not actually going to rob a bank, so relax… eat another donut. This is the bank robbery episode and I hope that it involve the usual magic ingredients of a good episode of LEP – authentic spoken English, native speakers communicating naturally, presentation of some specific language in context, the voices of some of my friends, a sense of fun and imagination. That’s the idea anyway. I hope that you will stay engaged throughout the episode. I suggest that you imagine what you would say and do if you were there in the room with us. As ever, you can leave your comments on the page for this episode at teacherluke.co.uk

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Introduction
Basically, in this episode you’re going to hear a group of my friends do a communication game in which they have to plan a bank robbery. We’ll listen to the whole meeting, hear their plan come together and then find out what happens in their version of the robbery. We’ll also consider some of the language used in the planning process. If it makes it more exciting, let me tell you that the stakes are very high in this episode – the team could get away with about £200 million in gold, cash and diamonds, or die trying.

What’s going to happen? How will the team organise the perfect bank heist? What language will emerge during the process? Will the team survive and escape with the money, or will they get caught red handed by the police in a dramatic shootout situation.? Listen, and you’ll find out… because this, is the bank robbery episode…

What is “The Bank Robbery”?
Sometimes in my classes at school, I give my students big communication tasks. These are like team building exercises which test the communicative competence of the group.

This episode is based on one of the games that I created, called “The Bank Robbery”.
The game is all about sharing information and working together as a group to come up with the right plan. It’s all about successful communication. If the team members share the information well, they’re more likely to plan a successful robbery. If they don’t communicate properly, they’ll probably miss some vital details, and they’ll get arrested or even worse, killed by the police.

Of course no one actually gets killed, it’s just a simulation. But if it helps to bring more drama to this episode – then yes you can imagine that there is real money involved, and real cops and real guns and bullets and all that kind of stuff.
The bank robbery game gives students the chance to practise speaking in a scenario that’s like a typical business meeting but with a fun twist. They can also get some feedback on their communication skills.
I find it fascinating to see how students deal with this game, especially from a language point of view, but also from a behavioural point of view, and I’ve always wondered how a group of native speakers would handle it.
And that’s what you’re going to get in this episode.

Here’s what’s going to happen
You’ll hear me explain the scenario of the game, I’ll go through some specific language that you might hear them use, then you’ll listen to them plan the robbery, and then they’ll present their plan. After that, based on their plan I will tell them exactly what happens in their robbery – we’ll see if they manage to get away with any money, or if the whole thing goes horribly wrong and they end up in jail or worse – in a body bag!
So, Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s meet the team…

The Team
Who is this team that I have assembled?
We have none other than: Paul Taylor (Daniel Radcliffe, or Tom Hardy), Amber Minogue (played by Audrey Tatou, or Anne Hathaway perhaps) , and Sebastian Marx (Woody Allen, or maybe Ryan Gosling).
Thank you for coming to this meeting. I have brought you together today because you have a very specific set of skills… skills that allow you to communicate effectively in English… skills that could be utilised in order to plan something as a group, like a buffet dinner bank robbery for example…. skills that I take a keen interest in, as a teacher of English as a foreign language… and skills that my listeners (the lepsters) enjoy observing through their ears via the medium of Luke’s English Podcast, which has won a number of awards for being the best blog for learners of English even though it’s not a blog it’s a podcast. OK?
Basically, what I’m getting at is that I’ve brought you all together this afternoon in order to record you doing a communication exercise because I think it will be really interesting for my listeners to hear. OK? I might be wrong, it could be dull as hell, and that kind of depends on you, but let’s see…
You are going to do an exercise in which you have to work together as a team in order to achieve a shared objective. Your success in the task depends on your management of information and effective communication between each other.
The stakes are particularly high in this simulation because you are going to organise a bank robbery. If you succeed you could escape with millions of pounds in gold, cash and diamonds. Sounds nice doesn’t it?
If you fail you could spend the rest of your life in jail, or be killed or badly wounded by police. It all depends on how well you and your team plan the robbery.

The situation
You are a gang of specialist bank robbers – think Oceans 11, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, that kind of thing. You have identified a small bank in West London (not as glamourous as Las Vegas, but anyway…) a bank which you know is about to receive a delivery of £100m in gold bullion. The bank also has cash reserves of £20m in its vault. There may also be some diamonds in the bank which you could take as well. Why not, if there are diamonds too, take the diamonds.
So you could make upwards of £120 million – £40m each – not to be sniffed at.
Anyway, the bank is situated on a street corner. It has one main entrance (that’s a glass double door) and a smaller secutiry entrance on the side (that’s a solid, protected security door). It’s quite a small bank with a main room for doing business with customers, and a small back office on the ground floor, and a medium sized vault in the basement. The money (gold, cash, diamonds) is kept in the vault, which is protected by a solid locked door. Imagine a solid metal door with a huge lock on it.
You 3 are the core members of the team, but you can’t do this alone. You’ll need some assistance – especially from people with very special skills, specific to organised theft like this. Luckily you have a few connections in the criminal underworld. You can choose a maximum of 2 other specialists to help you.

Here’s a list of the other gang members you could employ. You’ll get more information about them during the game.
The Driver
The Shooter
The Inside Man
The Safe Cracker
The Tunnel Expert
Jimmy The Informant

You (the team) are going to plan to steal that money.

Have a meeting to decide these points
• VALUABLES – What exactly is available and what will you steal?
• DAY – The day on which you will do the robbery
• TIME – The time of the robbery
• GANG MEMBERS – Which two extra gang members you will employ for the job (you can employ two other people)
• ENTRANCE – How you will enter the bank
• MASKS – Will you wear masks or not?
• GUNS – Will you use guns or not?
• VAULT – How will you get into the vault?

Today is Saturday 1 October
You’re planning to rob the bank next week – that’s the week starting on Monday, because that’s when the gold and other money will be in the bank. You’ve left it a bit late to be honest.

But you’ve all spent quite a lot of time watching the bank, and collecting information to help you plan the perfect crime.
(I’ve written this information on small pieces of paper and I’ll deal it out to you all randomly, in a minute)
You will need to share the information in order to pool your knowledge. Please don’t let each other read the info you have. You’ll have to do it all by spoken communication.

When you are ready, present your plan to Luke (that’s me) and the listeners (Lepsters). Then I will tell you the final result of your bank robbery. We’ll find out what happens in the robbery, based on your plan.

There are a few different ways to complete the task and steal the money, but only one of those approaches will allow you to get away with the most money possible. Some options will get you arrested, some options will get you killed. Some options will allow you to escape with only some of the money. Only one option (I think) will allow you all to escape with the maximum amount of money, with no loss of life or jail time. (Which is at least £120,000,000 – 30m each)

I am the gamesmaster – I’m just going to sit back and let you get on with it. I might give you bits of guidance and advice at times. I’m like Obiwan Kenobi or something. “Paul… use the crow-bar Paul…” that kind of thing.

You can ask me questions if you want – I might help, or I might be a bit mysterious and say something like “That is a question which only the sands of time may reveal” or “Sorry, I can’t answer that”.

OK, is everything clear? Do you have any questions at this point?

Key Information
While the team are reading the information I’ve just handed out to them, I’d like to talk to you about a few things, to help you follow the meeting more easily.

So, the team is looking at various key information which is on small pieces of paper. The information relates to these things:
• Info about the money – What exactly is available, and when it’s available. There is only one particular period next week when the gold, cash and diamonds are in the bank at the same time.
• Info about the DAY & TIME – when the bank is open, when the money is in the bank, and other information about the best time and day to do the robbery, including things like traffic, extra security in the bank and hours of daylight.
• GANG MEMBERS – Info about the 5 other team members they could employ for the robbery. They can pick two. Certain gang members are crucial for the robbery. Other gang members will cause your robbery to go horribly wrong.
• ENTRANCE – Different ways to enter the bank and get into the vault. Basically, it’s either through the front door, through a side door when the gold is delivered, or through an underground tunnel directly into the vault.
• MASKS – Will you wear masks or not? With masks on, the team’s identities will be protected from CCTV, but everyone will instantly know it’s a robbery.
• GUNS – Will you use guns or not? Guns will allow the team to persuade the bank staff to do things, but could be dangerous.

I’m now going to read to you all the information they have in their hands. Then you’ll know everything they know, and it should help you to follow their meeting more easily.

Also, it might allow you to work out your own plan. BTW, all this information is on the page for this episode at teacherluke.co.uk

So now, listen to all the relevant information. I’ll try to make it clear for you. Listen carefully and try to make your own plan. Think about the best day and time.

THE INFORMATION WHICH THE TEAM HAS TO SHARE
Here is all the info which the team members have on small pieces of paper.
You can also download this information as a Word document, which you can then print and then cut up. Click the link below to download the Word doc. (Thanks to Zdenek Lukas for preparing the doc)
THE-BANK-ROBBERY-speaking-activity-by-Luke-Thompson.

  • The bank will receive the gold bullion at 11AM on Tuesday 4 October.
  • The gold will be removed from the vault on Monday 10 October at 8AM.
  • When gold is delivered at the bank, two security guards always take it through a back door and down the stairs into the vault. This takes 5 minutes.
  • The gold is easiest to steal when the security guards are taking it from the van to the vault.
  • The gold and cash are fitted with anti-theft devices such as paint and a tracking device.
  • These are removed when the money has been safely delivered into the vault.
  • The £20m in cash will be removed from the vault on Friday evening.
  • You have just discovered that the vault will also contain £80m of diamonds next week! They arrive on Wednesday evening but they will be removed on the evening of Friday 7 October.
  • It takes approximately 10 minutes to fill your bags with gold, cash and any other valuables.
  • The bank is open from 8AM to 8PM, Monday to Friday. The bank is closed on Saturday and Sunday.
  • When the bank is closed the doors are very securely sealed and protected. It is impossible to break in when the bank is closed.
  • The side door of the bank is reinforced and cannot be opened from the outside.
  • The bank is unstaffed at night. Nobody is in the bank after 8pm.
  • The sun goes down at 6PM. The sun comes up at 6AM.
  • A robbery in the morning will be more of a surprise, and the police tend to be slower in the morning as they are usually eating donuts and drinking coffee.
  • You are much more likely to be identified by witnesses during daylight hours.
  • A robbery in the dark is more likely to be a success because the roads are quieter. It will be easier to escape by car in the dark.
  • There is less traffic on the street at night.
  • No-one goes into the bank at the weekend. After leaving the bank on Friday evening, the next member of staff to come back is the security guard. He arrives on Monday morning at 7AM.
  • Friday is the busiest day in the bank. The bank employs two extra security guards armed with Remington shotguns on this day. They stay in the bank from 8AM to 8PM.
    You will find it very difficult to get away from the bank quickly in the morning because of bad traffic.
  • You can enter the bank by the front door but you will appear on the CCTV cameras in the front entrance.
  • When the bank alarm is set off, the police are automatically called. They will take approximately 15 minutes to arrive at the bank.
  • The police will take an extra 5 minutes to arrive at the bank in the morning, because of busy traffic and because they’ll be eating donuts and drinking coffee in a local diner.
  • It will take approximately 5 minutes to persuade a staff member to open the vault for you.
  • If you have guns you will quickly be able to persuade the staff to open the vault for you.
  • Robbery with guns is more serious than robbery without guns, and therefore carries a much stricter prison sentence. Also, the police are more likely to open fire on you if you are armed.
  • You can use masks to hide your identity. They will prevent you from being identified during the robbery, but if you enter the bank wearing masks, the staff and customers will immediately know it is a robbery and the alarm will be set off.
  • There is a disused shop opposite the bank. The shop has a basement with an earthen floor, and vacant space for soil in the yard. The shop is available for rental.
  • It will take 5 full days and 5 full nights to dig a tunnel from the shop to the bank vault.
  • It will take 24 hours to arrange rental of the shop opposite the bank. The rental office is closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • To rent the shop opposite the bank you need to provide your name, ID number and address. The shop owner might accept a fake name if you bribe him with at least £5m.
  • The Driver is an excellent getaway driver. He is a professional stunt driver and he can escape from anyone, traffic permitting.
  • The Shooter is an expert with a shotgun. His speciality is crowd control and hostage situations. He has just spent 10 years in prison after his last bank job went wrong. He absolutely hates the police, because they killed his brother.
  • The Safe-Cracker can open any lock in just 2 minutes.
    The Inside Man works in the bank as a clerk. He knows about everything that goes on inside the bank. He can delay the alarm by 5 minutes. Also, he can give you blueprints of the vault.
  • His knowledge of the vault is essential if you plan to tunnel in. You need him to tell you where to enter the vault by tunnel.
  • Jimmy the Informant has a close relationship with the police and for the right price he will tell you everything that the police know about your bank job. He wants £10m for this information. He is not particularly loyal to anyone – either you, or the cops.
  • The Tunnel Expert is brilliant at digging tunnels. Without him it will take you 7 days and 7 nights to dig the tunnel, and even then it might not reach the bank vault correctly.

Now you know all the information they have, so in fact, you know more than the team as a whole now.

Perhaps you have some ideas about a plan of your own. If you were paying attention and you’re clever, you could work out the best plan already.

In a moment, you’ll listen to them sharing the information and they’ll start building their plan.

USEFUL LANGUAGE
Before we listen to that I’d like to bring your attention to some language you’re going to hear.

Here are some things you will hear. Watch out for these things.

Essentially, you’ll hear them
– sharing information – giving info and asking for info
– evaluating that information and making conclusions,
– rejecting irrelevant information,
– making suggestions,
– interrupting each other,
– agreeing

Summarising and Rephrasing
This shows that you’re listening, that you’ve understood, clarifies and establishes the information which has been presented.
You summarise your point (intro), give details, then summarise it again (conclusion).
E.g. “I think tunnelling in is not such a good idea, because if we tunnel in we can only get half the money. So tunnelling is not an option.”
Summarise what the other person said. Rephrase to show you understand.

Giving information – Signpost the point you’re making
Can I just say one thing about time? It fits in.
Timing-wise, the 20m in cash will be removed …
So, speaking of Remingtons…
More things regarding time here…

Ask for information
What have you got?
What else have you got in terms of timing?
Is that all you’ve got for timing?
Do we know when the bank is open?
Who are the other people that could help us?
When’s the gold going to be delivered?

Making Conclusions
So, we can’t do it on Monday. (“So” is a word that signposts that you’re making a conclusion)
So, this means, we have to do it on Thursday.
Tunnelling isn’t really an option.
Thursday seems like a good spot right now.
It seems like it’s closed at the weekend.
Wednesday doesn’t seem to be a good day.

Clarifying, or when you don’t hear something
Sorry, 8AM to…?
Sorry, I missed what you just said.
Let me say that again.

Magic Words
Sorry – interrupt or repeat
Hold on – make someone wait
So – make a conclusion
Seems – for facts that look true but you’re not sure

Rejecting Information
We can disregard this because it doesn’t matter.

Make suggestions
I wonder if we should do this…
Let’s…
Shall we say no guns?
Let’s think about how we can get in the back door.
I would say after 6pm is best.

Conditionals – 0, 1st & 2nd
0 conditionals – the speakers think they’re absolute facts – definitely will happen.
“So if we do it on Monday the gold is gone.”
“If we want to get everything, we can’t tunnel in.”
“If we tunnel, we can get some stuff, but we’re aiming for all of it.”
“If we go in with masks, everyone knows right away.”
“If we have the safe cracker we don’t need to persuade anyone.”
1 conditionals – the speakers think they’re realistic – will probably happen.
“If you go in with masks, they’ll know.”
2 conditionals – the speakers think they’re unlikely – just hypothetical things.
“The inside man would save us more time…”

I hope you can keep up with all of that.

Let’s now listen to the rest of the meeting. How do native speakers manage information in a meeting? Also, will they come up with the right plan?

Here we go…

MAP
bank map
TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, YOU’LL HAVE TO WAIT FOR “THE BANK ROBBERY PART 2”!

What do you think is the best plan?
Please leave your comments below. :)


Gold-robberies
Image: therealasset.co.uk/gold-robberies/

  • mio

    Wow~~~~~~~~~~~~ I love your podcast so much !!! I found it took late~~~~~~~

  • WOW what a team, Amber, Paul and Sebastian.
    It seems that Amber has a criminal mind,

    I would get the driver, guns, mas, and enter shooting at the ceiling shouting give me the money or gold whatever, at the sime time i shoot to CCTV cameras. :P

    What is the point of thinking that cops have guns and can kill you, if you are going to do it, you need to risk everything, cause failing isn´t an option.

    cant w8 for episode 2, i will listen to it right now

  • toscano

    Luke hi, how are you doing?
    I hope my comment is however not too late… is the bank already being robbed without me? Is some money still there, poor me!
    What do you think if I would suggest double robbery? I mean not to be very much greedy and make safe steeling when we dig a tunnel. In some time, let me tell two hours, when some of us carry the loot away, in the very morning next day we attack the bank with the false intention of robbery, just break in, armed of cause, let the stuff open the doors, disclose all of them and let them put on our prepared for them clothes and leave them all laying face down and bounded. We disappear in the tunnel and from the nearest shop we leave on electrical motorbikes clad like students, electrical motorbikes, you know are quiet. When police will arrive, they will be sure we are in and there are hostages there, they will spend some time for finding out the real situation, when all over the bank are crowds of people collecting gold and diamonds we left for make false our traces. Otherwise we make 20 orders of pizza for that morning, and will give all the guys some gold, they will as well try to get away from the place being involved, so the police will hunt them. So we will make all possible stuff that the police do their work not proper way. Meanwhile we leave the state only with some small cash, and turn back only half a year to deal with it later on.
    To be serious, the mistakes of the group, IMHO, was:
    1) first – they have to choose WHAT do they want to take, money, gold or diamonds, and if they CAN to do with it, as to get off gold and diamonds is very risky! The police will easy trace you, being silly selling the diamonds !! But they have started to learn the circumstances. It was a game sure, but they have to take it serious and each of them should ask another one: are we ready for such a risk- trying a robbery? If we want this – we should do that. But it seems, they took the task as if done – they have to.
    2) Before making the plan, to spend some time for reading the law, what punishment you will get for it, if you fail.
    3) So if you have learned all well and still the conditions are not the best – better stay home and alive, then to take the terms of the game. Cause I think your friends forgot the main thing, the robbery is still the beginning of the matter, the robbery may make even a fool, to leave safe – that must be the main idea of that communicative game.
    P.S. The idea of the game is great. To let the students discuss the stuff…
    It may take even a month playing the roles, if you like it, really – to let your students make a summary taking the role of specialist of CCTV cameras, weapons, cars, security and alarm systems, motor bikes and city traffics, psychology and black market of diamonds… )))

  • NoNameGuy

    Luke hello,
    As a bank robbery expert )) I would as well offer to you and to the players:
    1) real good stuff masks made of polypropilen and plastic, wich makes from your face just very real another face, nowadays technologies make it real so there is no need of dark masks which are 19th century.
    2) wearing a very wide uniform wich makes your body not to recognize and ander it – another one, to change, if you get a storm of paint ) + small bottle of liquid flammable stuff in the pocket, to tear it off and burn after you left the bank
    3) have weapon but not for kill, but for parallize the victims with electric shock
    4) invite a group of gudgeons to step after you and make the police trace them instead of you.
    5) still have gust small gun, to kill all wounded in order not to leave any from your group in police hands.
    About myself: 6 successful robberies ))
    (sure Anonymos)

    • Dear Luke, you have a dark side celebrity among your listeners! No Name Guy, God speed you and I hope you do not need to rob banks anymore.

      • NoNameGuy

        Dear Kaline G Sousa Saud
        While our bank robbery no one vivid sole was damaged, I am assuring you, that’s we call a successful finished work, maybe just some scratches, no more.
        Even in the projects like
        “Terminators take the fallen city”
        “Postapocalypto zombies of city undergrounds”
        “Great battle for liquid tiberium on the chemical factory”
        So we play our roles in the strike ball games…

  • Marina

    Thanks Luke for the tons of vocabulary, I went through ep 1 very carefully because I want to try out the activity with my class but I think for a group of 13-14 years old students it would be too difficult a task. Is there anywhere in the web I could find something similar? Thanks in advance

  • What a great episode teacher luke. I bet is very hard to find a teacher with such creativity you got. That’s why we are fond of you and love you as a teacher. We’ll be your fans forever until tour death. Well; this is my plan : At first I thought it would be better to rob The bank at night due to The fact it is unstaffed but It would be very noisy to break in. People who live by there and passers by will realize easily. Since workers tend to be weary right in the first morning hours they should risk and attack The bank in the morning. Be it wednesday; thursday or friday they should go at that time

  • Ksenia

    Luke, we are ready for the second part!))
    I wanted to ask, where did you get this task? Did you create it yourself? Because I remember you said in some episode that that is what you sometimes do – create activities for learners of English.

    • Yea I created it myself and I use it with my students in class sometimes.
      Part 2 is coming soon!

      • Ksenia

        How lucky your students are!

  • Marinus

    You guys have done really great job! Amber seem to be already participated in some robberies ;) …she really knows the job.

    …can’t wait next episode :)

    cheers

  • Karolina

    Excellent episode of LEP! I can´t wait the second part! I was listening many time to the episode but I still don´t know what is the best option to rob the bank and have it all!!OMG! – that just proves that bank robbery is not my thing lol!