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English for Business

Our lesson plans give you in-depth materials to take straight into the classroom. Each section below has five parts, with downloadable worksheets and teacher notes.

Getting down to business

Meetings 1: Getting down to business

The beginning of a meeting presents a major dilemma: is it better to get straight down to business, or is it important to allow or even encourage small talk? The texts in this lesson present arguments from opposing viewpoints, which may help students to question their own assumptions. The lesson goes on to introduce useful language for both small talk and getting down to business, with practice in the form of role-plays.

Meetings 2: Getting involved in meetings

Many learners of English worry about their mistakes and allow their insecurities to prevent them from participating in meetings fully. This lesson provides reassurance that such insecurities are very common and normal. It also presents some strategies for increasing their confidence and ability to participate actively in meetings in English. The lesson also warns students that they themselves are responsible for overcoming this barrier to communication. There is also some guidance for learners with the opposite problem: overconfidence and dominance. It is suitable for a wide range of professional contexts, not just businesspeople.

Meetings 3: Managing a meeting

This lesson focuses on two important aspects of managing a meeting: setting up the meeting with a series of emails, and keep the meeting under control. Two other important parts of managing a meeting, introducing the meeting and closing the meeting, are covered in lessons 1 and 5.

Meetings 4: Brainstorming and evaluating

Since its development in the 1950s, brainstorming has become one of the most common techniques used in meetings to generate ideas. However, despite its clear benefits, the technique has its faults and many improvements have been suggested and analysed. This lesson aims to provide practice of brainstorming at the same time as exploring possible improvements. The second half of the lesson focuses on the necessary follow-up to brainstorming: evaluating ideas. This means the lesson covers two of the key language functions of meetings: making suggestions and agreeing/disagreeing.

Meetings 5: Action points

For many people, a meeting is only as successful as the Action Points it produces. Action Points are essential for moving things forward between meetings, and provide a focus both for the closing of one meeting and the opening of the next meeting. This lesson looks in some detail at what makes a successful Action Point. There is also a focus on the various steps involved in bringing a meeting to a successful close.

Negotiations 1: Building relationships

When we think of negotiations, we tend to focus on the hard negotiating skills connected with bargaining. In fact, many professional negotiators will confirm that the most important skill is effective relationship building. If there is trust and understanding between the two parties, the negotiation will be much more successful, as will the long-term business relationship between them. In this lesson students start with a quiz which leads into a reading activity. Then they look at language in dialogues and finish with a role play.

Negotiations 2: Positions and interests

The key to successful negotiation is preparation and research. This means finding out exactly what you want from the negotiation, and why you want it. This lesson includes a discussion, vocabulary input, a reading activity, useful language for negotiation, team problem solving and a role play in pairs.

Negotiations 3: Questioning and clarifying

In a negotiation, it’s very important to know when to speak, when to ask and when to shut up and listen. In this lesson students rank and discuss the stages of negotiation, do a reading activity and look at negotiations vocabulary, examine question types, then finish with a role play to practise clarifying, summarising and responding.

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