"Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success."

Henry Ford (1863 – 1947), founder of the Ford Motor Company
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This Business English lesson plan on teamwork 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.

Teamwork is one of the most important skills you need in your job. Without teamwork, nothing much would get done in the world. As they say, “There’s no ‘I’ in team”. In this Business English lesson plan on teamwork, students will have the opportunity discuss and express their opinions on issues such as their experiences working in a team, what makes teams successful and what skills an individual needs to be a team player.

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):

Huff Post | “Teambuilding: Worth the Money or a Waste of Time?”

The article gives advice on how to get the best out of team building activities to ensure that they are not a waste of time and money including choosing the correct venue, having a plan and taking on board feedback. 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 TED Talk by Tom Wujec called “Build a tower, build a team” in which he talks about a teambuilding activity he uses and how it can be useful to identify problems a team may encounter in a project.


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 what skills are necessary to work well in a team, whether a team always needs a leader and how companies can encourage better teamwork.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with working on teams such as pull your weight, take one for the team and on the same page. 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 teamworking. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as what leads to success or failure in a team, which people they rely on most at work and the importance of socialising for teamwork.


After the class, students will write an email to their team inviting them to a teambuilding activity. 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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4 thoughts on “Teamwork”

  1. The lessons are really nice! But! Why do you always use Present Perfect with “When”? It’s grammatically wrong.

    1. Hi Tetiana, glad you liked the lesson plans!
      In answer to your query about ‘when’ with the perfect tense, you’re correct that you can’t use ‘when’ with the perfect tense if you’re referring to one single event from the past. So if the speaker knows they are referring to a specific event, it should be the simple past. For example, if the speaker knows the listener has only been to Spain once, they should say, “When did you go to Spain?” not “When have you been to Spain?”
      However, an exception to this is when the answer is expected to, or could possibly, refer to multiple occasions. In this case, ‘when’ can mean ‘on which occasions’ or ‘at what times’, so we can use the perfect tense as we’re not referring to one specific event in the past. For example, if the speaker anticipates that the person may have visited Spain on a number of different occasions, they can say, “When have you been to Spain?” (and the answer could be “Once with my parents and another time with my friends.”) Now, the question (and answer) does not refer to one specific time in the past, but potentially multiple times in the past (repeated events).
      This is very common in job interview questions (which is similar to my use in this lesson plan). For example, “Tell me about a time you have solved a problem.” Here, while you will presumably answer with a single occasion, there is the expectation or possibility that you have solved many problems in the past. Have a look here to see examples from American, British and Australian English using ‘when’ with the perfect tense:

    2. there’s nothing grammatically wrong with using the present perfect with “when”. However, it imbues the question with nuance, since it often implies that there has never been such an occurrence (though you would expect there should have been.)

      “When have you written to your brother? (I have never known you to write to your brother).”

      This usage would normally include a word like “ever” to emphasize that the event never happened.

      When has your brother (ever) visited us? (Your brother has never come to visit)

      When has your mother (ever) come to visit and not found something to complain about? (your mother always complains about something in the house when she visits)

      When has a politician (ever) told the truth? (Politicians never tell the truth)

      Alternately, as a response the present perfect can be used to express doubt:

      A. I did go to the dentist!
      B. When have you been to the dentist? (I don’t think you really have gone)

      A. She went to see her mother in the hospital.
      B. When has she been to see her mother in the hospital? (I don’t think she has been to see her mother)

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