If you teach business English, then you’re certainly in the right place! We’re going to give you the rundown on our top 20 business English activities as well as recommendations for worksheets, lesson plans and more.
Top 20 Business English Games and Activities
Are you ready to see some of the best ESL activities and games for teaching business English? Then let’s get to it!
#1: Role Plays
I love to incorporate role plays into my business English classes. The situations are endless! For example, an important telephone conversation with a client. Or, presenting your passport to the immigration officer at the airport. Or, meeting a potential client for the first time.
You can use role plays to help your students practice these important situations which will increase their confidence in a huge way. Find out more about using them in your classes here: ESL Role Plays.
#2: Current Events Presentations
Business English students are generally pretty up to date on what’s happening in the world. Plus, they’re often expected to do presentations at work so this is a nice activity to use in your classes. Find out more about how I set it up here:
#3: Help with Expressing Opinions
In business, you’ll often be called upon to express an opinion about something. For example, which marketing idea is the best, or who to partner up with for a project. However, ESL students are often quite weak at this because they don’t have the necessary vocabulary and they may also lack practice.
Here’s some solid advice that you can give your students about how to do this well: Expressing Opinions in English.
#4: Task Based Activities
We love to use task based activities with our business English students. There are just so many things you can do! In groups, students could do any of the following:
- Come up with a new product
- Create an innovative advertising campaign for a current product
- Do a company profile
- Audit a website
The possibilities are endless so get creative and think of some interesting things for your business English students to do. You can find more ideas here: ESL Task Based Teaching.
#5: Cocktail Party
It’s quite common for business people to meet important clients at a party or meet and greet event. However, for English learners, this can be a challenging situation because they may not feel that confident at small talk. Try out this ESL activity that replicates these very situations:
#6: English Central or YouTube Videos Related to Business
We LOVE to use videos in our English classes. You can find one for just about any topic, grammar point or vocabulary set under the sun. Except there’s more to it than just pressing play and sitting back and relaxing. The best teachers design activities that help get the most out of them.
Here are some of our best ideas: English Central and YouTube Videos for ESL Students.
#7: Conversation Starters
Small talk and basic conversational English is vital for business English students. It often doesn’t work that well if you tell students to just talk to each other. Instead, give them some conversation starters to get the ball rolling and you’ll usually find that the results are much better.
Here are some of my best ideas: ESL Conversation Starters.
#8: Practice Opening Conversations
It’s sometimes not that easy to start a conversation with someone that you don’t know. However, there are certainly some tried and true topics that work very well for this situation. Find out more details right here: How to Open a Conversation in English.
#9: Dialogue Substitution
If you’re teaching beginner business English, it can be a little bit tricky to design activities for them. One of the best ones to consider is dialogue substitution. You can use it for a variety of situations that business people might encounter from situations at the airport, telephone conversations or talking about a problem related to their company.
The way it works is that you give students the beginning of a conversation with blanks in it. Students have to work together to finish the conversation and then present it to the class. Find out more details about it here: ESL Dialogue Substitution.
#10: The Expert Speaking Activity
If you want to give your students some practice with small talk, try out this fun, interactive activity. The way it works is that students think of three things that they know a lot about, or are an expert in. Then, students go into pairs and can talk about these topics with each other. You can switch partners every few minutes.
Find out more details here: The Expert Speaking Activity.
#11: Plans for the Future
Business often involves making plans for the future. For example, planning for that next marketing campaign or deciding on a vision for the company. Students will need to be proficient in using future grammatical constructions for this. Find out some of our top recommendations here: Future Forms ESL Activities.
Or, you may want to check out some of these ideas here: Making Predictions Games.
#12: ESL Surveys
We LOVE to use surveys in our classes. They’re interactive and get students up and out of their seat talking to everyone in the class. Plus, you design them for any topic and in this case, you’d want to lean towards current events or business type things.
Do you want to try them out in your classes? Find out more details about how to design them and use them in your classes here: ESL Surveys.
#13: Filling out an Application Form
If students are in our business English classes, it’s quite likely that they may apply for jobs abroad. In this case, they’ll have to fill out applications in English. We can give them some practice with this in class before they have to do it for real.
You can easily find applications on Google. Print them off and have your students work on them in class or for homework.
#14: Running Dictation
If you want to introduce some grammar, vocabulary or topic via a conversation, here’s a fun way to do it that gets beyond just reading it from the textbook. Print off the dialogue and then cut it up into strips which you’ll tape on the wall around the classroom.
Put students into pairs and one person is the runner/reader/speaker while the other person is sitting down with pen and paper and is the writer. Students have to work together to get the entire conversation down on paper and then put it into the correct order.
It’s challenging, fun and students always really enjoy it! Try out this 4-skills ESL activity today: ESL Running Dictation.
#15: Mock Interviews
English interviews are very common these days, even in non-English speaking countries. They’re an excellent way for companies to weed out the people who can actually converse in English from those who can’t.
Help your students out with them by doing some mock interviews in your classes. But, remember this key tip. DO NOT let your students memorize answers. Interviewers can smell this out from a mile away. Instead, encourage taking a few notes about answers to common questions but then just speaking.
#16: Proof-Reading and Editing
It’s quite common for our students to have to write business emails in English. We can help them out with this in a big way be teaching them about proof-reading and editing. After all, it’s not that common to have a colleague or boss checking emails before they go out to clients, so it’s an important skill for our students to know.
Check this article out to find out how I teach this skill to my students: Proof-Reading and Editing for English Learners.
#17: Resume and Cover Letter Writing
When I teach business English, one of the main homework assignments is that students have to prepare a resume as well as a cover letter for a sample job that I think of. Of course, give students lots of help with how to do this, along with some samples that they can follow.
My goal is that students have something they can take with them and use when applying for positions with just a little bit of editing.
#18: TED Talks
I love to use TED Talks with my business English learners. There are just so many good presentations on a huge variety of topics, especially important business ideas.
#19: Breaking News English
With my students, I’ll often print off some lessons from Breaking News English. They take current events and grade them to make them easier for beginner to intermediate students (more advanced students should just use the regular article). There are also some excellent discussion questions and vocabulary activities that you might want to consider using.
#20: Business English Pod
If students are motivated to study business English on their own, one of my favourite resources that I like to direct them to is Business English Pod. They are podcasts, phone conversations and a whole ton of other good stuff related to business. There is a paid version, but the free one is useful enough.
Business English Worksheets
If you want to find some business English worksheets that you can just print and use with your students, here are some of the best resources:
Business English Lesson Plans
If you’re looking for some ready-made ESL lesson plans for business students, then you’re in the right place. Here are some of our top recommendations:
Like these ESL Business Activities and Games?
Yes? Thought so! Then you’re going to love this book over on Amazon: 101 ESL Activities for Teenagers and Adults. There are dozens of top-quality ESL games and activities to help you get through an entire semester in style. The key to better English classes is a variety of engaging activities and this book will help you get there.
You can find the book in both digital and print formats. Consider taking the digital version with you to your favourite coffee shop for lesson planning on the go. Or, keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office to use as a handy reference guide when doing your lesson plans. It really is that easy to have better English classes.
Are you ready for some ESL teaching awesome? Then head on over to Amazon to pick up a copy for yourself:
Have your Say about these ESL Business Activities?
What are your thoughts about these business English activities? Have you tried out one of them from this list or do you have another recommendation? Leave a comment below and let us know. We’d love to hear from you?
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