Socialising

"I only go out to get me a fresh appetite for being alone."

Lord Byron (1788 – 1824), English peer and poet
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This Business English lesson plan on socialising at work 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.

Many people prefer to keep their professional life and their personal life separate. But forging great relationships between colleagues is crucial for teamwork. While many people think of socialising as meeting up out of work for a drink or a meal, socialising can take on many forms, including simple chit chat in the office. In this Business English lesson plan on socialising in the workplace, students will have the opportunity discuss and express their opinions on the pros and cons of socialising with colleagues.

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 | Should you socialise with your colleagues outside work?

The article looks at a number of benefits of socialising with your colleagues, including research by MIT that suggests that chatting with your workmates can actually increase your productivity. 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 disagree with 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 by Bill von Hippel called “The neuroscience of social intelligence” which talks about the type of intelligence we need to survive in social situations.

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 whether the students’ socialise with their colleagues outside of work, whether their companies organise staff events, and if socialising has an effect on productivity.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with socialising such as gossip, shy/outgoing and to put your foot in your mouth. 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 socialising with colleagues. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as whether they prefer to keep their professional and personal lives separate, whether it’s different socialising with a boss, and whether it is appropriate to socialise with customers and clients.

HOMEWORK

After the class, students will write an email to their team to organise a Christmas party. 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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