If you are teaching a business English class, you will probably find that your lessons revolve around a course book. While it’s always a good idea to stick with the core materials of any given course, you should keep an eye on the level of interest that your students have in the lesson. This is particularly important for business English students, who are most often taking lessons after a busy day at work, or who are finding time in their daily schedule to take classes. The learning process should, therefore, be made more enjoyable with the addition of a few fun activities. Here are five activities that most business English students will enjoy.
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The importance of being able to give and receive information in the business world cannot be understated. Consequently, this classic format is one that works particularly well in such classes. Look through the course book material for specific phrases that you want students to practice. This could be as simple as ‘mergers and acquisitions’, for example. Such a phrase might be unknown to students and therefore make a good example to use.
When you’ve done this a few times, move on to whole sentences that contain messages used in daily business situations. For example, ‘The meeting has been postponed until next Tuesday at 9:00.’ This activity will allow adult learners to unwind and relax, but also has clear, practical benefits.
The job interview
Another important skill for business professionals is to be able to tell others what they have done recently. A really easy technique for practicing this is with a mock job interview. Get your students to design a set of questions for one another and then work with a partner or in a small group to practice asking and answering these questions.
This is a particularly great way of practicing the present perfect and present perfect progressive tenses, while also giving them the chance to work out what they would say in real life job interviews or annual target setting meetings.
Telephone role play
Naturally, a great deal of spoken language in the workplace takes place by phone. It’s a good idea – and quite simple – to replicate such a situation inside the classroom. Put your students into pairs and get them to prepare small conversation or dialogue. Alternatively, do this activity at the end of your lessons and get one learner to ask about the things you have learned while the other explains; this is a great way of reviewing and recapping what you did in class.
To set this up the students need to sit back to back so that they can’t see each other. Doing this will get them speaking a lot more, because they only have their voices to rely on for giving and receiving information.
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One skill that is particularly important to business English students, and yet which is often overlooked, is the ability to ask a variety of questions. This classic format is the best way to get students to rifle off a lot of questions in a very short space of time. Instead of choosing a famous person or building as their subject, make sure the students choose a concept that they have learned about in their course. Require that they ask full questions, as they would do in a formal meeting.
To make this activity as useful as possible, note down badly-worded questions and go through them with the students, exemplifying how to say it correctly.
Conducting a class survey is a great way of seeing how many people agree and disagree. They are also useful for looking at the language of reaching a consensus. Start with a series of questions or statements and get students to ask each other about them.
As you look at the results, encourage students to ask each other why they agree or disagree. This is also useful for teaching phrases such as ‘Most of us think that…’ and ‘We all generally believe that…”.