Big Data & Artificial Intelligence

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This Business English lesson plan on big data and artificial intelligence 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.

No longer the realm of science fiction, artificial intelligence and machine learning is already revolutionising the operations of businesses, and this revolution has only just begun. In the very near future, computer algorithms will take on more and more of our repetitive tasks, including much more accurate medical diagnoses and many legal services. But what will this change mean for the jobs that people will continue to do (or not do) in the future? In this Business English lesson plan on big data and artificial intelligence, students will have the opportunity discuss and express their opinions on issues such as the importance of data for businesses, uses of artificial intelligence, and how these innovations will change the workforce in the future.

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


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):

SAS | Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Business

The article gives a brief explanation of what artificial intelligence and machine learning is, as well as looking at some current uses in sectors such as banking, retail and security. 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 might 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 a TED Talk by Anthony Goldbloom called “The jobs we’ll lose to machines – and the ones we won’t” which talks about the types of jobs that will not exist in the future, and the jobs that will still require humans.


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 insights big data can give to a business, how the students’ companies use data, and if there are any dangers associated with big data.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with big data and artificial intelligence such as automation, machine learning and data analysis. 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 artificial intelligence. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as how artificial intelligence is already being used by businesses today, what effect artificial intelligence will have on jobs in the future, and the effect of artificial intelligence on the global economy.


After the class, students will write a short report to their CEO explaining what artificial intelligence solutions are currently available to help their companies. 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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