Accounting & Finance

"In the corporate world, sometimes things aren’t exactly black and white when it comes to accounting procedures."

George W. Bush, 43rd president of the United States
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This Business English ESL lesson plan on accounting and finance has been designed for business professionals or other adults and young adults at an intermediate (B1/B2) to advanced (C1/C2) level and should last around 45 to 60 minutes for one student.

Every company must keep financial records, and the department responsible for this is the accounting department. Every government has regulations for businesses to report their finances, and this information is also vital to shareholders. The penalty for not submitting this information could be catastrophic for a business. In this Business English lesson plan on accounting and finance, students will have the opportunity discuss and express their opinions on issues such as the role of accounting and finance departments and why they are so crucial to businesses.

For advice on how to use this English lesson plan and other lesson plans on this site, see the guide for ESL teachers.

PRE-CLASS ACTIVITIES

Reading activity
Before the English class, send the following article to the students and ask them to read it while making a list of any new vocabulary or phrases they find (explain any the students don’t understand in the class):

Indeed | 11 Common Accounting Issues (And How To Overcome Them)

The article looks at a number of contemporary challenges facing accounting professionals, including cybersecurity and data breaches, tax law changes, and remote accounting teams. At the start of the class, hold a brief discussion about what the students thought about the article. What do they think about the issues raised in the article? Do they agree with what was written? Can they think of any ways they can add to the content of the article?

Video activity
To save time in class, the English teacher can ask the students to watch the video below at home. In the class, the students will answer a number of conversation questions directly or indirectly related to the content of the video.

The video for this class is by Bench Accounting and called “Bookkeeping Basics for Small Business Owners” which looks at how small businesses can rise to the demands of accounting, including why bookkeeping is important, separating business and personal expenses, and how to store and organise documents.

IN-CLASS ACTIVITIES

The focus in the class is on conversation in order to help improve students’ fluency and confidence when speaking in English as well as boosting their vocabulary.

This lesson opens with a short discussion about the article the students read before the class. Next, the students can give their opinion on the quote at the beginning of the lesson plan – what they think the quote means, if they agree with it and how it could relate to business. This is followed by an initial discussion on the topic including the type of financial information companies need to report, the biggest expenses for companies, and how changes in tax laws affect businesses.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with accounting and finance such as bookkeeping, bankruptcy and in the red/in the black. The vocabulary is accompanied by a cloze activity and a speaking activity to test the students’ comprehension of these words.

If the students didn’t watch the video before the class, they can watch it after the vocabulary section and answer the conversation questions. Before the conversation, ask the students to give a brief summary of the video and what they thought about the content.

Finally, there is a more in-depth conversation about accounting and finance. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as staff expenses, how to cut costs, and issues around cash flow.

HOMEWORK

After the class, students will write a summary of their countries’ tax laws for a foreign investor. The writing activity is designed to allow students to practise business-style writing as well as improving their grammar with the feedback from their teacher.

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