"Business is Darwinism: Only the fittest survive."

Robert Holmes à Court (1937 – 1990), Australian entrepreneur
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This Business English ESL lesson plan on business competition 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.

Competition is the backbone of the current economic system. So the theory goes, as competition increases, prices get better and the quality of products increases. Competition is considered so important that governments and international organisations have introduced laws to promote it and fight against uncompetitive practices. But this has not stopped huge corporations achieving market dominance and stifling the competition. In this Business English lesson plan on business competition, students will have the opportunity discuss and express their opinions on issues such as the pros and cons of competition for businesses.

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):

Entrepreneur | 10 Ways Competition Can Improve Your Business

The article lists a number of ways competition can be beneficial to companies, including mutual learning, prioritising customer needs, and forging new partnerships. 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 a TEDx Talk called “Love your competitors – how great businesses do strategy” which takes the alternative view that our current attitude towards competition may not be as healthy for businesses as we are led to believe.


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 different ways businesses compete with each other, how small business can compete with larger companies, and competition between colleagues.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with business competition such as cartel, corner the market and antitrust. 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 business competition. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as in which sectors is there not much competition, why monopolies are considered bad for business and the economy, and which sectors should be operated as a state monopoly.


After the class, students will write an email outlining the strengths and weaknesses of a competing business. 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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