Business English Activities

This is an article that I downloaded from somewhere!  Sorry that I can’t quote the source.

  1. Meetings game.  This is a competitive game that helps learners use chunks of language for different functions such as giving opinions and disagreeing politely.  You must invest time in setting it up well or it won’t work.  Be clear on any rules you think you will need and spend time on the language beforehand.
  • Make some strips of card and put the phrases you want to practise on them. (Phrases for meetings can be found easily in most business course books)
  • Ask students what things they discuss in meetings (in English or their own language) and put a list on the board.
  • Tell them they are going to have a meeting in class and should choose three items from the list to discuss today.  They will have 5 minutes per item.
  • Go through the phrases, drilling any pronunciation you feel important (intonation is very important in disagreeing politely for example).
  • Deal out the phrases and tell the learners they will have to discard their phrases one at a time (one phrase per point they make) and the first to discard all is the winner.
  • Assign a chairperson or do it yourself and hold the meeting.  You take notes on vocabulary etc for a correction slot after.
  1. Tour of the office.  This is good as an ice breaker at the start of a course or near the start of the course and can work with all levels.  If you have one student ask them to show you round their place of work introducing people, explaining how things work etc.  If you have a group then you can assign them roles- tour guide and visitor.  It is a great authentic activity and gets you out of the classroom.  It also lets you get to know the company and how it functions!
  2. The Island activity.  This is taken from  Ask students to think of their dream island- what would it contain?  How may people would live on it?  What kind of infrastructure would it have?  How would they survive?  And any other questions you think would be useful.  Then put them into small groups or with one to one, participate yourself.  An ideal number is four, though.  Tell them they are going to have to negotiate to live on one island and the island should be as near as possible to their personal vision as possible.  Give each person a different colour pen and tell them to draw the coats first, then work their way in.  They can discuss the content before they draw or while drawing.  When they are finished, ask them to reflect on how their negotiating went- did they work as a team, was there any effective negotiation and what made it effective. Then they present their island to others if you have more than one group, otherwise they present it to you.  See the website for more details. There are lots of follow up activities you can do with this- think of laws, plan how to market the island as a holiday destination, decide on trade objectives, discuss developments for the island….
  3. Looking at their website.  Take in a laptop or printed material from their website and get students to explain various items such as who people are, current projects, locations, products etc.
  4. Take in some local newspapers in the learners own language.  Give them out and tell learners they have 1 minute to choose a story they are interested in.  Go through phrases such as – ‘Have you heard about..?’ ? ‘Look at this!’ ‘I was reading the other day about…’  etc and then have them explain their story to the class.  This helps them build confidence with their ‘social English’.
  5. World presentation. Ask students to think of a place they would love to go and live for two years.  Then ask them to think of a product they could sell there, or a business they could start- one they would enjoy.  You can ask them to close their eyes for this.  Then give them 15 minutes to prepare a two minute presentation to the class.  Do the presentation asking the listeners to ask questions.  You can do this at the start of a class to evaluate presentation skills or later to practise presentations, or just as  a fun speaking activity, making sure you do correction if that is the case.
  6. Role play a conference by getting students to prepare some information about themselves and the conference first.  Give them a list of items such as why they are at the conference, their personal information and perhaps some current news item to introduce into conversation.  Once they have prepared go through some phrases for chatting to someone—‘Haven’t we met?’, ‘Hello, I’m ______from______(company)’ etc. Then get students standing up if possible and acting out the conference chat.  You should monitor and give feedback on good language and corrections.
  7. Instead of using emails and telephone role plays in books ask learners who they really write and speak to and what about and create real plays around this information.  Remember there should always be a language focus to these activities even if it is a correction slot afterwards with some ideas for new language they could use in that situation.

Basically, by asking your students what they really do in English or want to be able to do you can create a multitude of activities that can be a fun break from the syllabus OR can actually be the foundation of the syllabus!