If you’re looking for some of the top picks for ESL business English lessons, then you’re definitely in the right place. Stay tuned for the best business English activities to consider trying out with your students. You are one step away from giving the best business conversation class!
ESL Business English Lesson Tips and Activities
Let’s get into the best activities for ESL business conversation.
English Resume and Cover Letter Writing
One of the activities I always do in business English classes is to have students write a resume and cover letter in English. The key is to get students to find a job that they might be interested in and then tailor the resume and cover letter to that. This is good practice for the real world!
After that, I show students a few different formats and then allow them the freedom to choose what will work best for them. I give some time in class to work on them, offering feedback if needed. Then, students complete them for homework, and I’ll offer some detailed feedback. Students can make changes and then submit them to me again for final grading. When that’s done, they’ll have a polished resume and cover letter to take with them should they have to apply for a job in English!
Presentations and Public Speaking
Business people often have to make presentations, either formally or informally. That’s why I love to spend some time working on this important skill in my classes. Not only do students improve their English skills, but they can also have a tangible skill to take with them wherever they do in the world.
Here are some tips and my #1 book recommendation for teaching presentations:
Business English Vocabulary Builder
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 128 Pages - 11/25/2020 (Publication Date)
If English learners want to improve their business vocabulary in a big way, then they should consider picking up this book on Amazon. It’s designed for self-study, and each chapter has a dialogue, vocabulary, and then a chance to put these new words into practice.
The dialogues would also serve as a nice introduction to a variety of topics in a ESL business conversation class.
Business English Conversation Activities
Who doesn’t love a good role-play, right? One of the best ways to help students build confidence for the real world outside the classroom is to replicate the outside world in our classes.
How you set up your role-plays and the topics you choose, of course, depend on the level of students. But, I generally pre-teach some vocabulary, give students a scenario, and then let them work on both roles in pairs. After that, we come back together as a class and discuss.
A fun way to talk about a number of financial concepts is to have a friendly stock market competition. Put students into small groups and give them a certain amount of money (just fun money!). They have to choose 4-5 stocks that they want to invest in.
The key is to require that students decide on these stocks by using English only! Then, I have each group do a short presentation discussing which stocks they picked and why.
Then, use one of the practice stock market traders online and have your ESL business English students actually set up an account and invest. Check back each month to see how each group is doing. To make it even more interesting, you can allow additional trades later on.
Interview Practice in English
It’s often the case that students want to work on interview skills in my classes. The key with this is to NOT let students memorize answers word for word. This is exactly what it sounds like in an interview, and it makes it sound like the person can’t actually speak English.
Instead, I cover the most common interview questions, but I only let students take a few notes, and then we go from there. Of course, offer lots of feedback and some key vocabulary words and grammar that people might need to know for interviews. It is a must-do activity for ESL business English students!
Negotiating in English
I’m sometimes convinced that my students get tired of always hearing me talk! That’s why I sometimes like to let other teachers do the heavy lifting. If you think that your students feel the same way, then consider using a video to explain things!
A nice way for any language learner to increase their vocabulary and reinforce grammar concepts in a big way is through extensive reading. It can be very useful for students to read authentic materials like popular business magazines or selected articles from the newspaper.
If students are not at a level where they are able to read authentic materials, then I recommend checking out Breaking News English. There is a myriad of articles, graded according to level. For more information about this, check out:
I love to use task-based activities in business English classes because this often replicates what happens in real life. People have to work together in teams in order to get something done.
One of my favourite tasks is to have students design a product of some kind and then give a presentation in English about it. The goal is to convince the “investors” (the rest of the class) to invest in their product.
The “Expert” Speaking Activity
I love to get students working on their small talk skills. My goal is to help them talk to anybody about anything! One activity that works very well for this is The Expert. Find out more about the best business English conversation activity here:
Filling out an application form is one of those things that seems pretty simple, but there’s actually a good amount of specialized vocabulary. That’s why I like to give my students a chance to practice doing it in my class.
Print off an application form or two from the Internet, and you’re well on your way to a fruitful writing exercise.
Business English Vocabulary Builder 2
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 115 Pages - 12/01/2020 (Publication Date)
A nice way for students to improve their English vocabulary is to use a book like this one. There are dozens of dialogues covering a wide range of situations encountered in the business world and hundreds of words, idioms, phrases, and expressions that would be helpful to business people.
Business English Pod
Whenever I teach business English, one of my go-to sources is Business English Pod. They have a ton of great resources, and I’ve always found the free version good enough for my needs.
ESL Activities for Advanced Students
If people want to learn business English, they are often more of an advanced level. If this is the case, then focusing some class time on general English skills can prove helpful and is a nice change of pace from just business stuff. After all, business people usually need to navigate travel, restaurants, small talk, etc., and not just boardroom kind of stuff. Here are some of the top options:
Talk Show Introduction Activity
If you’re looking for a nice icebreaker activity to use with business English students, then look no further than talk show. It’s a nice twist on the usual TEFL introduction activities, and it’s also a great way for students to get to know each other. Find out more about why I like it so much here:
FAQs About ESL Business English
Here are answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions about Business English for ESL students.
What is ESL business English?
Business English is a specialized area in the English language. It is an especially niche area among non-native English speakers who are willing to work for or work with a company in an English-speaking country.
How do I teach ESL business English?
Teaching ESL business English requires teaching very specific types of skills. These can include business vocabulary, specific grammar for business conversation, and interview practices. There are many low-prep or no-prep ESL conversation activities that teachers can use in classes which is also very helpful for adult students seeking to improve their business English skills.
What is the difference between English and Business English?
General English focuses on day-to-day conversations. In this case, you will mainly learn basic vocabulary and grammar. However, Business English focuses on learning specific business-related practical words and conversation skills to use in interviews or meetings.
Have your Say about Teaching ESL Business English
Do you have a go-to activity for business English conversation classes? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
Also, be sure to give this article a share on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. It’ll help other busy English teachers like yourself find this useful resource.
Last update on 2022-06-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API