Communication

"Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something."

Plato, ancient-Greek philosopher
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This Business English lesson plan on communication 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.

Communication is vital in business. Poor communication can lead to a breakdown in relationships and a loss of earnings. It is also likely to be something you are asked about in a job interview. But what is good communication, and how can you communicate effectively? In this Business English lesson plan on communication, students will have the opportunity discuss and express their opinions on issues such as what makes effective communication, what kind of communication is common in the workplace and problems associated with communication.

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):

BBC | “Native English speakers are the world’s worst communicators”

The article refers to the problems native English speakers have when communicating in their own language. All too often, in an international business context, they have no awareness of the vocabulary and phrases they are using, which is rarely understood by their non-native speaking colleagues or partners. They also tend to dominate discussions and are not able to adapt their language. 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? Have they ever experienced this?

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 Celeste Headlee called “10 ways to have a better conversation” in which she gives advice on how to communicate more effectively, stressing how important it is to really listen when someone is speaking to you.

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 barriers to communication, the importance of non-verbal communication and how the students feel about speaking English at work.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with communication such as get to the point, in a nutshell and like talking to a brick wall. 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 workplace communication. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as whether listening is the most important communication skill, problems caused by misunderstandings and whether different cultures communicate differently.

HOMEWORK

After the class, students will write an email to their team advising them on how to communicate effectively. 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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