Students examine, discuss and use the language of project planning and management applied to an on-going project at the learner’s company.

Teacher's notes

By Barney Barrett

Aim: To examine, discuss and use the language of project planning and management applied to an on-going project at the learner's company.

Level: Intermediate. As well as vocabulary building, the activity can be used as a tenses review.

Timing: The first part of the activity can be used as a 10 to 15-minute warmer. The second part can last 30 to 60 minutes depending on the size of the group and the complexity of the projects being explained.


  1. Distribute the first page. Elicit definitions of each term from the group. Some can be found in dictionaries. Basic definitions of the specialised terms are as follows:


    • Milestone – specific date at which a stage of a project plan should be completed. Evaluation of whether the stage has been completed successfully is performed using a quality gate.
    • Quality Gate (QG) – checkpoint, often linked to a milestone, that consists of a set of quality criteria defined at the beginning of the project. The project must meet these exit criteria in order to proceed to the next stage, i.e. open the QG.
    • Decision Gate – like a QG but failure to meet the criteria can lead to a project being shelved or cancelled.
    • Green Light – formal approval to proceed or start.
    • Kick-off – official beginning.
    • Exit Criteria – see Quality Gate
    • Deliverable – (not in exercise but may be used by learners in their descriptions of projects) measurable, verifiable outcome that shows a project or a stage of a project has achieved a result. The criteria set out in a QG measures deliverables.
    • Sign-off – official end of a project.
    • Deployment – process of introducing or disseminating the results of the project throughout an organisation or company.
  2. Divide the learners into pairs or small groups and ask them to label the time-line using the terms.
  3. Ask each group/ pair to draw their time-line on the board and explain/ justify their labelling. This will lead to discussion and, possibly, disagreement. Many of the terms are used slightly differently depending on the type of project; the learner’s job and the internal terminology they are used to at the company where they work. There is no definite, correct answer to this activity.

    Possible answer: please see the downloadable notes for a visual answer key

  4. Distribute the second page. Elicit an explanation of what a progress report is and what it is for. Divide the group into pairs. Explain that each person is going to explain an on-going project to their partner in the form of a progress report. The partner must take notes and check their understanding since they are to present the report to the rest of the group.
  5. If a tenses review is part of the lesson focus, draw the learners’ attention to the formulation of the questions and suggest they use them to help create their answers.
  6. Once each learner has explained their project, the partner presents it to the rest of the group. Provide feedback at the end or after each report, especially on the use of the vocabulary from the first part of the activity and, if this is the lesson focus, grammatical accuracy.


The reports can be written up or developed into more complete formal presentations.


The language of project planning and management is constantly changing and developing and similar terms are used differently. Learners could be tasked with researching the various different meanings. A simple, web-based way of doing this is to use Google’s glossary search. This works as follows:

Go to and enter “define:” followed by the term you wish to look up.

e.g. define: quality gate

When providing feedback it can be better to provide individual feedback after each report on issues such as vocabulary, pronunciation etc, but to store up grammatical errors until after all the reports have been completed.