Adrian Doff introduces a new series of lesson plans specifically designed for teachers of English for business. This article provides an overview of the series, as well as hints and tips on how best to exploit it.

Business tasks is a series of worksheets that you can use in a business English class to focus on a particular area of language. Each worksheet is completely self-contained and provides you with material for 20-30 minutes’ teaching. The worksheets are mostly suitable for classes at intermediate level or above, but as they focus on the language areas not usually dealt with in coursebooks, they can also be used successfully with more advanced classes.

What language areas do the worksheets cover?

Business English books often focus on the specialist vocabulary students need in business, plus grammar, as well as general skills development. These worksheets focus on the areas of language that are often only touched on in coursebooks – the words and phrases needed to express a particular idea or ‘concept’ which might be useful in a variety of business contexts. Here are some examples:

Concept Words and expressions
Talking about your work experience experienced, have experience of; be (un)familiar with;
the first time...; have never... before
Talking about work and responsibilities be responsible for, be in charge of, take charge of; run, manage
Talking about success manage to, succeed in; be successful; a great success, a partial success

Teachers often find it useful to focus on language like this in class. For example, you come across the word succeed in a text and you might want to use it as a starting point to explore expressions such as it was a great success, we succeeded in..., or it wasn’t very successful. The aim of these worksheets is to help you do this more easily and more effectively.

How can I use the worksheets?

The Business tasks worksheets are designed to be as flexible as possible, so they can be adapted to different kinds of classes and teaching styles.
There are three main ways to use them:

  1. Students can use them for self study. Give the worksheet to students to work through on their own (e.g. at home), then in the next lesson go through the exercises and deal with any points that may arise.
  2. You can use them for an active classroom lesson. Use the worksheet to present the key language points, and as a basis for practice and discussion. With each worksheet, there are detailed Teaching Notes, which provide ideas for tasks and activities. They also give suggestions for using the worksheet in a large class or with a small group (e.g. two or three students), as well as for pair or group work.
  3. Instead of working through the worksheets with the class, you can use them as a basis for your own lesson. You can elicit ideas and phrases from the students and present language on the board, using the Teaching Notes for ideas. Then give out the worksheet at the end as a summary, and ask students to do the exercises for homework.

What do they contain?

Each worksheet follows four stages:

  1. Two or three short business contexts, showing typical examples of how some of the key expressions are used. These act as a lead-in to the concept covered in the worksheet.
  2. Presentation of the key language points, through examples, tables and simple explanations. You can work through these with the class and use them as a basis for activating the language.
  3. A speak or write section. This is a chance for students to personalize the language, drawing on what they have learnt to make sentences about themselves, people they know, their place of work, etc. There is always the option of doing this orally or in writing.
  4. Exercises. These are simple, controlled exercises, which can be used as a check point. You can do them together in class, or students can do them at home. The answers to the exercises can be found in the Teaching Notes.

The series

There will be twenty worksheets in the series, covering a range of language areas. Below is a list of titles with a brief description of the areas they cover.

Title Description
1. Experience Work experience; things you have and haven’t done before
2. Notes and messages Notes, messages, and minutes; taking and leaving notes
3. Work and responsibilities Jobs and what they involve; what people are responsible for in a company
4. Contact Contacting people; keeping in touch
5. Success and failure Being successful or unsuccessful; succeeding and failing
6. Risk and danger Risks and dangers; taking risks
7. Things that often happen Frequent events; tendencies; work routines
8. Knowledge Knowledge and expertise; knowing about things
9. Decisions Taking decisions; deciding to do or not to do things
10. Opportunity Work opportunities; taking and missing opportunities
11. Contrast Contrasting ideas; talking about contrasts and opposites
12. Getting and losing jobs Getting and losing jobs; leaving and changing jobs; employment and unemployment
13. Probability Things you expect or don’t expect to happen; things that are likely or unlikely
14. Ability and skill Abilities; skills; knowing how to do things
15. Studying and learning Studying; learning; courses and qualifications
16. Talking Talking, discussing, chatting; giving talks and speeches
17. Money Making and losing money; income and expenditure; profit, loss and turnover
18. Problems and difficulties Problems, difficulties; things that are difficult; having trouble
19. Changes Changes that have taken place; making changes, alterations, revisions
20. Progress and achievement Making progress; achieving goals; stages and schedules in a project