Government & Business

"The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would steal them away."

Ronald Reagan (1911 – 2004), 40th president of the United States
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This Business English ESL lesson plan on the relationship between government and business 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.

The principal responsibility of any government is to manage the economy. Governments that fail in this basic job don’t tend to stick around after the next election. Managing the economy, in the current economic system, is focused on creating an environment where businesses can thrive. When this happens, more people have jobs, which in turn boosts tax revenues, which surely guarantees a government is re-elected. Sounds easy, right? In this Business English lesson plan on government and business, students will have the opportunity discuss and express their opinions on issues such as how businesses and governments can help each other.

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):

The Guardian | Why strong ties between business and government matter

The article talks about how governments can benefit from business involvement in key policies like climate change, refugee crises, and research and development. 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 TED Talk called “Government – investor, risk-taker, innovator” which looks at the stereotype that public sector organisations lack innovation, and how governments can promote innovation in the economy.


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 motivations of businesses compared to governments, how governments can help businesses succeed, and which government policies affect the students’ companies.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with government and business such as public-private partnership, state subsidy and outsourcing. 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 government and business. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as the effect of state subsidies on competition, how businesses and the public sector can work together to solve social issues, and whether businesses or the government has most influence in society.


After the class, students will write an email explaining how a new government policy will affect their company. 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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