� Practice for Business People
STEVE FLINDERS AND
SERIES EDITOR: NICK BRIEGER
Pair Work 2
Steve Flinders and SilDon Sweeney.
SERIES EDITOR: NICK BRIEGER
. PENGUIN BOOKS
Published by the Penguin Group
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Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: Hannondsworth, Middlesex, England
Published by Penguin Books 1998
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Text copyright © Steve Flinders and Simon Sweeney 1998
Dlustration © Chris Chaisty 1998
All rights reserved
The moral rights of the authors and of the illustrator have been asserted
The photograph on pages 33 and 103 (by Sandra Lousada) is reproduced courtesy of Collections;
the photographs on p.52 (by Sandra Lousada, Paul Bryans and John Wender) are reproduced cour
tesy of Collections and the photographs on p. 122 (by George Wright, Anthea Sieveking and John
Cross) are reproduced courtesy of Collections and Barnaby's Picture Library.
Printed in England by William Clowes Limited, Beccles and London
Set in New Century Schoolbook and Helvetica
Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not,
by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the
publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published
and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent
The pages in the book marked From Business English Pair Work 2 by Steve Flinders and Simon
Sweeney © Penguin Books 1998 P H 0,. 0 COP I A 5 LEmay be photocopied free of charge
for classroom use by the purchasing individual or institution. This permission to copy does not
extend to branches or additional schools of an institution. All other copying is subject to permis
sion from the publisher.
The publishers make grateful acknowledgement to York Associates for permission to reproduce
copyright material as follows:
1 ideas presented in the York Associates' video Communicating Styles by Derek Utley in Activity
17: Communicating Styles (ISBN 0 948333 62 6);
2 definitions of certain business terms in the glossary of this book taken from Key Tenns in
Personnel by Steve Flinders (ISBN 0 948333 46 4); and
3 notes on giving presentations adapted from T he York Associates Teaching Business English
Handbook by Nh� Brieger (ISBN 1 900991 07 1)
More details of all three titles are available from York Associates Publications, 116 Micklegate,
York YOI IJy, England, tel: + 44 (0)1904'624246, fax: + 44 (0) 1904 646971, e-mail:
The authors and publishers would also like to thank:
• Bob Dignen at York Associates for Activity 64: Troubleshooting;
• Adrian Furnham of the University College London Business Psychology Unit and regular
contributor to The Financial Times, who invented the exercise type used in Activy 47:
• Gunilla Ingels for providing the inspiration for Activity 40: Nerd management.
Every effort has been made to trace copyright holders in every case, The publishers would be
interested to hear from any not acknowledged here,
Pair Work Activities
Student A Student B
Managing an investment portfolio
Managing the future
Age in employment
Banks, lending and borrowing
Negotiating a deal
Planning a meeting
Business and the environment
Business in the community
Safety at work
Talking politics 1
Talking politics 2
Notes on Making Presentations
A-Z of Language Functions
Communication Skill Table
I ntrod uction
To the teacher
Business English Pair Work 2 has been written in response to the demand for more fluency
practice activities. Its aim is to give foreign students of Business English, working in pairs, addi
tional classroom practice in communicative activities in order to develop fluency in communi
cation skills. As with its predecessor, Business English Pair Work 1, the material addresses a
wide range of adult themes from a variety of professional areas; however, most of the activities
do not require specialist knowledge. The activities have been designed in order to provide
communicative practice around:
• business communication skills
• key language functions
The material is completely independent of any course book and can, therefore, be used on any
Business English course.
Business English Pair Work 2 consists of sixty-five activities. The activities are in one book
• teachers' notes
• the role information for student A
• the role information for student
• notes on making presentations
• a glossary of business terms
• an A-Z of language functions, together with sample exponents
• a table showing the communication skiIl(s) practised in each activity.
The activities are aimed at learners of Business English at intermediate level or above. All the
activities can be done by in-service learners: people who need English for their work. Most of
the activities can also be done in their existing form by pre-service learners: people training for
a career in the business world. The few remaining activities can be done by pre-service learn
ers after minor adaptations have been made and explanations of key concepts have been given
by the teacher. The teachers' notes provide suggestions for lead-in activities to get pre-service
students thinking about business management areas; the glossary provides key words for the
managt!ment areas covered.
Description and organization
The book contains sixty-five pair work activities. These are arranged in alphabetical order by
title (see contents page), except for the Ice breaker, ""hich comes first. The activities can be
done in any order and roles A and
B can be taken by either person in the pair. All the infor
mation for each activity is given in the book. Each activity consists of:
• a short introduction to set the scene and provide some background information about the business
• Student A's role (first part of the book)
• Student B's role (second part of the book).
Each activity focuses on a communication skill (see below), Therefore, we have shown for each
• the communication skill to be practised
• the language function(s) which may be drawn out.
All of the activities can be done in pairs; however, some of the discussion activities can also
be done in small groups.
There are four main types of activities in the book:
These are activities in which students are asked to perform a task together; they fall into two
categories. In the first, one student has access to all the information and tries to impart it to
hislher partner. In the second, both students are given access to half the information and by work
ing together try to solve the whole problem.
Discussion and conversation:
These are activities designed to stimulate students to discuss a subject or subjects with their
partner, usually in order to reach agreement. These activities can often be done in small groups,
as well as by pairs.
These are activities in which students are given specific roles to play in order to carry out a
These are activities in which students play themselves but are given a definite task to do or are
put in a specific situation.
By doing the activities, students will practise:
• phone calls
• meetings and discussions
social English in a professional context.
The materials are designed both to practise communication skills and deveiop effective commu
nication techniques. Thus they focus on both fluency and effectiveness.
How to use the book
The materials are not graded. Therefore you can choose an activity on the basis of theme or
Suggested procedure for the activity
1 Present the overall theme of the activity, focusing on key vocabulary for the topic.
2 Warm up class with lead-in questions in teachers' notes; focus on key vocabulary that will
be needed in the activity.
3 Divide the class into pairs.
4 Assign roles A and
5 Ask students to read the introduction.
6 Ask students to look at the information for their role. Make sure that they know what they
have to do and, if necessary, how long they have to do it.
7 Give students enough time to prepare. This is particularly important for some of the activi
ties, where students need to both absorb and understand the information before starting to
S Monitor the pairs while they carry out the activity, prompting the use of functional expo
nents, if necessary.
Suggested procedure after the activity
Feedback to the learner(s). Provide feedback for individuals, pairs, or the class on strengths
and weaknesses, appropriate usage and/or mistakes. Refer students to glossary for vocabu
lary items, where appropriate.
2 Feedback from the learner�s. For problem-solving activities, ask pairs to present their solu
tions. One technique which involves the whole class is as follows:
a) ask one pair to repeat the activity with another pair
b) ask one group of four to repeat the activity with another group
c) enlarge the group size each time, until a joint conclusion has been reached.
3 Follow-up activities. The teachers' notes provide ideas for follow-up activities which can be
done either in class or for homework.
.some activities can be short (about 10 minutes); others are likely to take longer, perhaps even
a whole lesson. There are no time limits on the activities, except those decided by the teacher
and the learners. However, you should agree and set time limits - both for preparation and for
the activity. Don't allow an activity to drag on for too long. Better a few minutes too short than
As some of the activities involve figures, a pocket calculator may be useful.
Teachers ' notes
1 Ice breaker
2 Active listeni ng
'Ice breakers' are short exercises for use with a new class
to help people get to know each other.
This activity aims to raise students ' awareness of the
importance of active listening through practising this
necessary skill. It is a test of how well students listen; and
an exercise in encouraging them to look at the different
ways in which listeners can support speakers.
Ask why it is important to be able to:
1 introduce yourself and say what you do
2 'break the ice' with strangers
3 ask polite questions.
1 With a group class, divide students i nto As and Bs.
There are two possible methods. Either Bs introduce
themselves, then As introduce themselves before Bs
ask all their questions and then As question Bs. Or
students take it in turns to ask a question.
2 Stress the importance of the two follow-up questions.
Explain this is how small talk develops and helps to build
relationships. The follow-up questions should help the
natural flow of the conversations.
3 Students need move on to a new topic only when one
topic has naturally dried up.
4 If the group is not too large, get students to walk around
so that all the As get to talk to all the Bs and vice versa.
Ask the students:
1 if they are good listeners (they will naturally say that
2 what makes a good listener
3 what makes an active listener. You could at �his point
show some sound-down video extracts of your own
choice with samples of good and bad listeners portrayed
in order to elicit more characteristics of active and inac
tive listening. You could also do some warm-up prac
tice in summarizing by giving them some listening or
text-based input and then asking them for concise 20-30
second oral summaries of the input.
I You may wish to brainstorm or pre-teach vocabulary
associated with downsizing.
2 With weaker students, you may furthermore wish to
1 Get students to practise telling the whole group some
key information about themselves:
• job title, responsibilities
• company name, activity, location, etc.
Provide a model or elicit a good example from one
particular student. Explain the importance of being able
to clearly introduce oneself and talk about one's work,
responsibilities, company, etc.
Some specific research and thought mav
be required to
rensure that all students have a good understanding of
their job title in English. Students could find out this
information before the next class, if they are not sure
2 Get students to write short personal profiles of them
selves or of their partners. The latter could provide a
collaborative effort between pairs.
invite them to contribute arguments for and against
downsizing as preparation for the activity.
3 Filming the activity on video could help with analysis
and feedbac k on the non-linguistic aspects of the
students' listening after the end of the activity.
I Get feedback from student A on the accuracy of student
B's reporting and vice versa.
Discuss the degree of difficulty and usefulness of the
This technique can be further practised using other activ
itit!s in this book; or in other general discussions which
you can organize yourself.
3 Advertising standards
Age in employment
This role play is a potentially highly conflictive meeting
This is a topical subject in at least some advanced indus
between a journalist and a representative of a company that
trial societies and your students may well have their own
is under attack.
First- or second-hand experiences to recount.
Ask students if they think television programmes should
Briefly discuss how widespread ageism is ill lhe society
not be allowed to aHack companies and their products .
in which your students live and work. Also discuss briefly
why ageism exists.
I Begin with a discussion on body language and conflict!
avoiding conflict in discussion. Elicit examples of
Each parlner should try and convince the other (although
aggressive body language (pointing. staring. thumping
it may be wise to sound out opinions before the start
the table, frowning, 'set' mouth/jaw, etc. Add to this
in order to find out which side each should take). If all
suggestions on what language is aggressive: direct,
students are fervently anti-ageist and reluctant to take
accusing. blaming, personalizing discussion, elc. Elicit
student A's part, point out that ageism is widespread
ways to reduce the risk of a discussion becoming too
and that it could be interesting to try and anticipate
conflictive. Conflict can be reduced by keeping calm,
some of the arguments used by recruiters who will not
having a soft tone of voice, avoiding aggressive body
consider older people, by playing this role.
language, avoiding personal attacks, using indirect
2 Encourage all participants to think of their additional
rather than direct language, etc.
arguments and to think of plenty of real life examples
to support their positions.
2 Givc students the necessary time to think about their
3 Put students into pairs.
4 A begins with criticism of the product and the claims
This is a subject where there can be a curious gap between
made for the product.
people's claims (not many people will admit to ageist alti
5 B responds defensively.
tudes) and the reality (there is serious discrimination
6 The argument continues in true television style ...but
against older people in the labour market in many indus
try to avoid too much conflicl.
trialized countries). The (British) Institute of Personnel and
7 A nice option would be to video the interview so students
Development is committed 10 the removal of age discrim
can watch it as if part of the eventual television
ination in employment and documentation on the subject
can be obtained from the IPD, IPD House, Camp Road,
London SWI9 4UX, tel: 0 1 8 J 97 J 9000, fax: 0 1 8 J 263 3333.
If you have the resources, have your class make a video
documentary along the lines of this role play, including
interviews about various products. It could be part of an
Annual reports are a useful source of information on partic
ular companies and collectively represent a useful source
of authentic materials for teaching.
Explain that all the categories listed in the activity have
been used in real annual reports. Then ask the students about
the functions and usefulness of annual reports. Invite opin
ions briefly on what should go into an annual report.
Explain that the students must first of all invent a company
identity and then design an annual report for that company.
Encourage students to think about the objectives and likely
readers of the report and to produce a draft design which
would fulfil the objectives and satisfy the readership.
7 Brand positioning
After students have reported back, look at the most recent
issue of the students' own annual report(s) (if they have
one). Also look at a range of o ther annual reports to
compare students' lists of contents with the real thing.
Annual reports are generally easy to obtain if you write
to any large company. The Financial Times newspaper
also operates a central service for ordering annual reports
at certain times of the year.
This activity begins with a telephone call to arrange a
meeting and then the meeting itself. The topic is brand
Discuss the terms brand, brand positioning and brand
Illustrate the terms by referring to well-known
6 Banks, lending and borrowing
This role play is intended as a telephone conversation,
but could be a face-to-face meeting. If you and your class
decide that it is a telephone call, use internal lines, if
possible. If not, have students sit back-to-back so they
cannot see each other. They should go through the normal
stages of a telephone call, introducing each other, getting
through, stating the reason for the call, etc. The activity
involves an element of information transfer and a nego
1 Allow some minutes for preparation.
2 A starts by telephoning to fix an appointment. 8 plays
hard to get. A has to explain the situation as B does not
3 In the meeting 8 starts by summarizing the present
position and suggesting some action. A should counter
as diplomatically as possible .. A and 8 should try to
persuade each other. In the end they reach a negotiated
4 The negotiation should conclude with a clear summary
of what they plan to recommend to the Board.
1 Different negotiations will produce different results so
Ask why banks lend money and why they sometimes
refuse to do so.
(Answer: banks make money from the interest and other
fees associated with lending. They also support business
ventures. They sometimes refuse to lend money if they think
the business venture is not a good one and their money
may be at risk.)
A has to telephone the bank and explain what he/she wants.
8 asks various questions and a negotiation follows.
these can be compared between pairs or groups.
Pairs should produce a memo of their recommendations
for the Board.
8 Budget negotiation
This activity is based on a presentation by one side followed
by a discussion or negotiation. The parties are a govern
ment official anxious to keep public spending down and
a restoration expert commissioned to save a famous
1 The bank (8) should write a letter referring to the appli
cation and formally offer the loan with certain guaran
2 The client (A) can write a letter to the bank referring
to the application enquiries, asking for the loan, explain
ing the circu mstances and accepting an y agreed
3 Alternatively, the client can change hislher opinion and
write a letter closing his/her account and declaring
his/her intention to change to a new bank.
1 what public spending is
2 why governments like to keep public spending down
3 what things governments typically spend most on
4 what they spend least on
5 what national monuments they know
6 who pays to look after them.
1 Refer to the notes on making presentations at the end
of this book.
Students work as As and Bs. Give them time to prepare
their roles. A i n particular n eeds to prepare hislher
presentation, putting key information on an overhead
transparency dr flip chart. It would be useful to put the
Gantt chart showing the project phases onto a visual.
A begins, explaining the project and supplying the infor
mation about costs. B takes notes and briefly prepares
a response. B should also interrupt and ask questions,
get clarification, etc.
The next stage is a negotiation during which both sides
aim to reach an agreement they can both feel happy with.
In extremis, no agreement will be possible.
The negotiation should conclude with a clear summary
of what has been agreed or a statement as to why agree
ment has not been possible.
several pairs, it could be useful to record each conversa
tion for analysis and later playback.
1 The obvious follow-up is to ask students to repeat the
whole exercise, but with the roles reversed so that each
partner has to repeat the other's anecdotes with a degree
of accuracy satisfactory to the originator. This is an
excellent test of listening and gives further practice in
the skills discussed in Activity 2: Active Listening.
2 Students could also repeat or continue the activity with
their own suggestions for anecdote.
3 Students who know each very well could be invited to
score each other's anecdotes for interest and wit.
10 Business ethics
A fax or letter summarizing and confirming the agree
ment would be useful.
9 Business anecdote
The activity is a discussion on the wider aspect of ethics
in business, looking at corporate strategy, not just market
ing methods. Naturally some controversial issues are
Anecdotes often go on for too long. Preparing and struc
turing anecdotes can help keep them interesting and to the
B efore you start the activity:
1 give the students an example of a short anecdote (if
necessary teach the word 'anecdote' itself) and elicit
some key characteristics e.g. one subject, to the point,
avoiding extraneous detail and characters
2 brainstorm possible linking phrases like
• That reminds me of something that happened to me
when . . .
• That makes me think of an experience I once had
in . . .
• It's very humid today - just like the time I . . .
• It's so cold outside - it reminds me of when I . . .
• Really? A similar thing happened to me in . . .
• That's interesting. I had a similar experience in . . .
• You' ll never believe this but . . .
• Did that really happen? . . .
Students can use these to introduce each new story. The
linking phrase does not have to be very meaningful as
long as it signals clearly that the other person is going
to take a turn at speaking.
1 what issues are involved in ethical considerations
2 why companies have to take an ethical position.
It may be better to leave the answers until after the activity.
The answer to the latter question is that increasingly ethi
cal questions do affect commercial realities: in the global
economy consumers may have more information and more
power. Also, as societies become richer, consumers becomE
more critical and more likely to adopt ethical standpoints
I There are 16 issues listed. Students work in pairs ani
discuss them all, marking their own judgements accord
ing to the scale.
2 There are alternative approaches:
a) Have learners work independently;
then have a grou
b) Have learners go around interviewing everyone j
the group to try to identify a group consensus on eac
point. This takes longer but is often the more comm'
nicative and stimulating method.
3 Afterwards, get pair or group feedback on the opi
Give the students plenty of time to prepare: setting this
as a homework task will save time in the classroom. Since
you will be unable to monitor all the anecdotes from
Choose a few of the items for extended discussion or
up a debate on the lines of Modern business cannot aff( .
10 ignore the ethics or Ethics are all hypocrisy, or so
such uncontroversial title.
11 Business g rammar
12 Business philosophy
This is a game to be played with students who you know
and who know each other reasonably well since, although
it has serious business and language aims in terms of
making testing demands on students' command of vocab
ulary, it may initially seem either frivolous or off-beam
This is something of a wild card activity since it is obvi
ously very open-ended. You are also probably more likely
to try this exercise with a group with a well-established
dynamic. Nevertheless it is potentially a rewarding - and
lengthy! - activity which could lead to some useful, even
You may wish first to test the idea with the whole group
by first thinking of a high profile business (or politicall
media/etc.) personality and giving a list of nouns which
you associate with the person in question. Once they have
the idea, let them proceed as given in the main text.
Before looking at the worksheet, as a scene setter, you could
write on the board: 'Business is . . . ' or even 'Business
. . . ' and invite each class member to brainstorm sentence
endings, but without allowing any comment either from
the group or from you.
Go through the instructions in the book so that everyone
is clear about what to do. If you detect uncertainty, select
a pair to do a trial run in front of the class.
There are too many statements for one person to deal with
and so there are various ways in. which this material can
be used. Have a clear idea in advance of which approach
you want to adopt since this will affect how far you can
use it again with the same group in the future. Some alter
Ask students to choose two or three statements only and
tell them to allocate an equal amount of time to each.
2 More directively, allocate a different statement to each
3 Get each student to choose three statements they agree
with and three they disagree with and to discuss them
If successful, this can be returned to from time to time as
an end-of-Iesson or middle-of-Iesson filler. As always in
discussion, don' t allow the activity to go on for too long:
cutting it off in its prime is a better classroom tactic than
allowing some people to get bored.
1 Students can write down for future reference all the
words they have heard and used, and apply the same
technique to other people - superiors, subordinates,
mentors, etc. as an exercise in vocabulary extension. You
can also transfer the technique to various business and
managerial concepts which you can brainstorm with
the class, for example: 'Which nouns/verbs/adjectives
do you associate with leadership?'
2 You can, of course, play the same game using nonbusiness as well as business people.
(The question about including such words in a CV is a
serious one since the authors can testify to having seen
such lists of 'power words' in real-life CVs.)
Good time management is also important during the phase
when pair�r..·eport back to the whole group. S ince the
discussions will have been both �omplex and unstruc
tured, this stage will be a challenge to students' capacity
to summarize clearly, succinctly and fairly. You can also
add students' own statements of business philosophy to
1 3 Business and the environment
14 Business in the community
The relationship between business and the environment is
More and more companies have some kind of community
likely to become a matter of increasing public concern and
policy: an unscientific survey by the authors found that
debate in Ihe years to comc. It is important for business
about a quarter of annual reports of major British compa-
people and busine5S students to discuss the issues and the
nies included a reference to the company's community
role. One of them (United Biscui ts)
options available to them.
cites 'the belief that
commercial success and social responsibility are inextri
cably linked'. It is a theme which has received little atten-
Since the activity involves a potentially detailed and
tion in Business English before now, but is a theme which
comprehensive presentation as the first and second
we believe many colleagues will be increasingly keen to
stages (although you can be the judge of how long and
enlarge on in the future. All the cases in the activity are
detailed they should be), the sLUdents should be given
based on authentic British examples.
plenty of time to prepare beforehand. They should be
encouraged to present the policies in their own words
by paraphrasing the text rmher than just reading through
Ask students what image they have of business involve
the points; and to bring the presentation alive by provid
ment in the community and what examples they can give,
ing, above all, plenty of examples. Sec the back of the
either at first- or at second-hand. Do they have any direct
book for notes on, and language for giving presentations.
experience themselves? Do they accept the premise quoted
2 Get each pair of students to agree on who is visiting
above about the relationship between commercial advan
whom so that the host is able to welcome the guest
tage and social responsibility? Or is this a British phenom
correctly (sec below).They should also choose a sector
enon emanating from the British charitable tradition which
for their own company - construction? retailing? - to
is unlikcly to develop elsewhere? (Note that the Japanese
make the exchange more plausible.
company Sony also includes a section on its role in the
comlllunity in its annual report.)
I Since this is a meeting, it should begin with the appro
priate pleasantries about the trip, the weather, etc. -
Once the students have read the three cases (for homework),
another opportunity for practice of Social English.
encourage them to paraphrase and explain each case rather
2 The presentations should be followed by a meeting
than just read them aloud. If you feel that they need prac
which, as far as possible with only two participants,
tice in paraphrasing, give them input in the form of short
should be conducted realistically with an agenda, discus
written texts in which they have to identify the key sentence
sion, summary and a statement of the decisions taken.
and then fil the rest of the information into two short
All the policies cited are real-lifc examples of practice
in various British companies.
I Technical note: the Fun Run case is an example of wha1
2 For students who are especially interested in this area,
is now knowll as CRM - Cause Related Marketing.
you can obtain more information from Business in the
2 In Britain, Business in the Community is an organiza
14), which has a department
tion which seeks to promote an active sense of svcia
Community (see Activity
specifically concerned with Business and the Environment.
responsibility in business organizations. InformatiOl
about its activities can be obtained from Business in th'
Community, 44 Baker Street. London WI M I DH, teJ
+ 44 (0) 1 71 224 1 600, fax + 44 (0) 1 71 486 1700.
15 Capital investment
This involves a discussion of various options on how to
spend a budget. The discussion is about establishing
Ask students what factors are important when one fixes
priorities: what is the most important factor behind deci
sions taken by companies? Is the profit motive what matters
most? Is it the only thing that matters?
1 The students can reverse roles.
2 They can discuss other possible areas of guidance which
could be added to the list.
3 They can discuss how they approached/might have
approached the other role differently.
4 They can feed back to the whole class and you can see
whether there are any common traits emerging from
the different discussions.
This activity could also represent a lead-in to Activity 12:
B usiness Philosophy.
1 7 Communicating styles
1 Initially students should study their notes and choose
their preferred way to spend the available money.
2 Then student B can present all his/her suggestions and
then A responds with his/her presentation. A discussion
3 The idea is to reach compromises and therefore agree
ment on what recommendations to make. There is poten
tial for conflict, but a solution has to be reached.
This activity aims to sensitize students to the fact that
different styles of communication tend to cut across nation
ality (e.g. that there are formal and informal Germans,
Americans, Japanese, and so on) and therefore may be a
useful perspective for increasing awareness of the fact
that, for example, both formal and informal styles may be
equally acceptable and legitimate.
Each pair can summarize what they have agreed. A writ
ten memo could note the decisions taken.
16 Career advice
You could begin by asking people to provide adjectives
or key words to describe their own nationality and then
ask how valid each of these words or expressions is for
the x hundred thousand or million people who share this
label with them.
In this activity, the students are required to operate in
something of a limbo between simulation and role play in
that they will probably be obliged to imagine that they are
either rather older or rather younger than they in fact are.
This activity offers many opportunities for discussion and
for sensitization to the existence of different styles of
communication; so be prepared to allow lots of discussion
both between partners during the activity and during the
feedback session of the whole class afterwards.
Begin by asking:
1 what a career is
2 how the notion of career has changed over the last ten
or twenty years
3 what, in very general terms, the students' own expec
tations of a career are or have become.
You can put the students - in particular the 'older' student
- in the mood by, first of all, talking about some of the
details of their partly hypothetical careers, i.e. get each of
them to provide a brief summary of their respective career
histories to date before they actually begin the activity. Ask
them to think about their respective careers and make
notes on them for reference during the activity.
Having gone through the questionnaire, students may
well suggest their own add.�ional sets of parameters. You
might prompt suggestions by asking them to comp lete
the sentence: 'Some people are too . . .' (in their commu
nication) and get someone also to give the opposite of
each term suggested.
2 The notion of no ' one right way' mentioned in the
students' introduction to the activity has been extensively
developed by Fons Trompenaar in his book Riding the
Waves of Culture. Trainers wishing to go further into
the whole area of inter-cultural communication in busi
ness will find this title of value.
3 The York Associates' video Communicating Styles
significantly develops the ideas contained in this activity.
m etence develop ment
Having done this activity,the students could return to the
real cases they were presenting before and present differ
agers currently see competence as a not too
heav·l 1 bu
reaucratic way of, on the one hand,measuring
what peop ·
le In the organization can actually do; and, on
meas ring what their jobs ideally require them
to d0. T he ·U
dIllerence between the two sets is the competence gap.
Ask the stu
dents to think of a job they know and then,with.
U t saYln g What
the job is, to list the competences (see the
n to the activity for a definition) needed by the
b h0 Id r.
T he others can first of all try and guess what
nd 0 f o
it is. Alternatively you could provide each
W h a job title on a card in order to get a good
al Spr ead of jobs. Students might also want to
talk,thI· S tu.
ne without identifying the job holder,about the
cOm e t n c
P � e g ap they perceive , if any, between the job
and the o b
w'ISh t o sketch out some possible training costs
emb ark .
Ing on the activity itself, so that when the
stude nts c
ome to negotiate the budget, their discussions
bear s ome
reI a rIon to realIstIc
trammg costs. The potenfIaI dI' Sagree
men t to be resolved is between the immedi
a te s u p e .
Who is impatient to have the new recruit
h n al as SO on as possible, and who has to pay for
the t ra
. Ini ng a n d
the HR manager who wants the new
re ru l t p ro
p erly inducted into the company and properly
P OXlInate training costs (per week) together
POSSIble number of weeks' training required could
b e as In t
h e tabl e
below, although,with more experienced
students ,I t
' sh ou ld be interesting for them to come up with
p rog r a me and figures:
ent cases one by one with the group as a whole obtaining
further information through questioning and then making
collective recommendations for the training or develop
ment of the incumbent.
19 C ompetitive tendering
This activity is a basic information transfer exercise that
is an effective vehicle for practising telephoning. If you
and your class decide that it is a telephone call, use inter
nal lines, if possible. If not , have students sit back-to
back so they cannot see each other. They should go through
the normal stages of a telephone call, introducing each
other,getting through, stating the reason for the call, etc.
Ensure that the context is understood and that the mean
ing of competitive tendering is clear.
1 Give students time to fully understand their roles.
2 Set up the situation, either a phone call or a meeting.
3 A starts with some questions about the bid.
4 Once all the points have been dealt with,students should
summarize the items agreed, check that there is noth
ing more to be said now and then end the conversation.
This three part ending is important.
A fax or letter summarizing the conversation would be
Internal I external
Cost I week
$ 1 250
Comp any k
Cus t Ol11e r f
Intercul t ___
l fo ---!"
-a-lIlaxlmum training programme
All e lllp
l oye es go through a basic induction programme varying between one and five days in length. The
nt Would presumably like the new recruit's programme to be longer rather than shorter.
20 Conference organization
21 Consu mer movement
This is a fairly straightforward example of information
This activity depends on an informal context to work most
tive student: you want to encourage them to go for a really
topic is there as the core of the activity but if the discus
informal atmosphere of a hotel lobby.
transfer but with an element of fantasy for the imagina
successful and memorable conference.
The conference subject has deliberately been left unspec
ified so that the students can decide on this themselves
before they start.
effectively. As with other informal and social contexts, the
sion wanders away into other areas and back again, so much
the better. If possible, provide props to help create the
Ask students to brainstorm the relationship between
consumers and companies. Who is more powerful? Try to
Although some of the information has been supplied, each
student will ask the other questions which he/she will not
have anticipated so it is important for them to be ready to
build a mini-debate on how both consumers and compa
nies have power.
improvise. You might want to present the situation in
1 From the lead-in above, try to divide the class into
of the activity itself in order to brainstorm the kinds of
(As) and those who basically think companies rule
general terms before actually looking at the description
those who basically think consumers do have power
question which might be asked in these circumstances.
everything (Bs). If the class do not divide reasonably
This might elicit questions such as:
neatly, some students will need to role play an opinion
(for student As )
• What experience have you had of organizing this kind
• What can I get for a budget of
$10,000 per participant?
different from their own.
• What can you do to make this conference a success/
(for student Bs )
• What is the aim of the conference?
• Who will the top speakers be?
• What kinds of conference room will you need? (Size?
• How many participants will there be?
• Will they be accompanied by their spouses/partners?
As begin by putting the case for consumer power.
Bs respond with counter-arguments.
The second part looks at how this power is manifested
- what media are available to consumers or what means
there are for companies to exert power over the consumers.
An alternative is to keep students in larger groups and
retain the debate format.
A brief piece of writing summarizing the respective strengths
and weaknesses of consumers and companies would be an
effective way to conclude the activity. This can be done in
pairs, groups or individually as a homework task.
• How long will the conference last?
• What kind of budget are you working to?
You can leave these questions on the board while the
22 Consumer survey
students read the description and then begin to prepare the
This activity is a discussion in pairs leading to designing
ally carrying out the survey.
Once a preliminary idea of what is possible has been
a consumer survey on leisure interests. It can lead to actu
developed on the phone, and the pairs have reported back,
with more feedback on each one. There should be a lot of
researchers. Briefly discuss the question of survey design
each pair could be asked to cost a more detailed proposal
Ask if students have ever been surveyed by market
discussion about what can be done for the money avail
so that students understand that surveys are normally very
mUltiple choice, etc . This is mainly so the results can be
able. Note in each case also, the size of the consultant's
restricted in the kind of questions they ask: yes/no answers,
collated easily. Results from surveys where answers require
a lot of writing are difficult to analyse (although such
qualitative surveys do have their value). For this exer
cise, students should use questions where the answers are
restricted, as in the examples given.
Students work in pairs, first of all deciding the ten core
them t o understand every word i n the contract, only the
2 A telephones B and states the problem.
3 A should explain all the reasons why he/she is unhappy.
4 B should try to calm the situation and move to a better
leisure activities they want to include in the survey.
Then they design the questionnaire. This may take some
time and need some guidance from you. Essentially, tell
students to keep it simple and limited to frequency, cost
and who with, for the ten activities the students agree
on, together with other questions on preferred holiday
Both parties can write a letter summarizing the result of
choices and where the respondents live. If the students
24 Corporate culture
need guidance from you.
want to add any other questions,they can do so, but may
They can put scales next to each leisure activity based
on how often the respondents have taken part in them,
students' attention on the relationship between organiza
how much they spend, who they do this with, etc.
tional culture and success, and to encourage them to think
them, then modify them.
number of people.
4 When the questionnaires are ready, they should test
Another activity designed to be fun, but also to focus
about what to change, how much to change and how to
Finally they can make copies and run the survey on a
Ask the students to reflect on their working or study
Compile the results from the survey, analyse them and
present the results of the research.
If there were one thing they could change definitively,
what would it be?
If there were one thing they would do to make the orga-
nization more effective, what would it be?
23 Contract dispute
Encourage them to think laterally, even outrageously, in
everyone to respond to the ideas which are brainstormed.
order to get them in the mood for the activity and get
This role play is a telephone call involving a negotiation
to settle a dispute over a contract. Alternatively, use a
telephone call at the beginning merely to arrange a meet
1 Students should first of all agree about what kind of
company - activity, turnover, number of employees and
ing, stating the problem. As with other telephone activi
location - before they start on the activity.
ties, use internal lines, if possible. If not, have students
sit back-to-back so they cannot see each other. They should
go through the normal stages of a telephone call, intro
for a dialogue between two sets of pre-prepared and
ducing each other, getting through, stating the reason for
opposing views, but it is no cause for alarm if this
the call,etc. The actual negotiation could be a face-to-face
breaks down: the important thing is to get students talk
ing and thinking about what it is which will get people
to work together more productively and more success
Briefly ask what:
1 a distribution agreement is
a distribution agreement typically includes
(It refers to the supplier and an agent, who will sell goods
They should be encouraged to add their own ideas
during the activity. In principle, the activity provides
Although the ideas in the activity collectively represent
in a particular region under certain conditions. It prob
a bizarre assortment of management practices,all of them
company or another across the world: there is a link
particular idea and the geographical proximity to
ably also speaks about prices and terms and support
1 Give students two or three minutes to study their role
information. Remind them that it is not necessary for
have been tried, and proven, individually, in one
between the seeming normality or abnormality of a
students' own culture of the originator of any given
A number of the concepts relating to building trust
within the workforce like, for example, employees
26 Ethical marketing
Brazilian engineering company, Semco, under its owner,
determining their own hours, relate to the culture of the
Ricardo Semler, which attracted a good deal of atten
This topic looks specifically at marketing methods rather
One obvious focus for discussion is:
Ethics). It includes a range of controversial issues.
• whether some organizations are easier to change than
• whether too much change can be counter-productive.
or that companies have a responsibility to give a good
tion in the business media in the mid-nineties.
• how easy it is to achieve change in an organization
Many students will want to cite examples of organiza
tions forced into excessive and traumatic change while there
may also be others who will want to defend a general
climate of change.
than at wider issues in business (see Activity
Ask students if they think that 'anything goes' in business,
example. In some cases, of course, the state already inter
venes and makes some things illegal.
Students can work in pairs and note any specific
disagreements between them, especially where the order
ing 1 - 1 5 is involved, which may be very difficult to agree
25 Creative thinking
This is a brainstorm type discussion activity leading to an
Here are some alternative approaches:
a) Students can consider the p�ints individually, decide
individually on a ranking from 1 to 1 5 , then compare
option of an informal presentation of a new product idea,
in this case a magazine.
b) Have As and Bs interview each other.
c) After some moments marking the page individually,
Ask students what magazines they read and what maga
zines they know about. Ask if they read any specialist
magazines for professional or hobby interest groups.
open up a class discussion.
In some cases, some changes or conditions may be
added to the statements. Elicit any suggestions.
1 Students work in pairs or in small groups.
proposition that Marketing is usually ethical or Marketing
They should brainstorm the type of magazine they want
to create; then go through all the various points on the
Once they have the basic information, they can begin
Have a full scale debate on marketing ethics based on the
rarely shows high ethical standards.
preparing the best way to present it. Depending on how
27 Executive recruitment
short activity (but full of creative energy and enthusi
Refer to notes on making presentations at the back of
a senior executive.
much time you want to spend on this, it can be a fairly
asm) or it can be quite a polished presentation.
This is a simple discussion about the qualities needed in
5 Pairs or groups present their ideas.
6 You can award a prize to the most inspired concept.
Ask students what skills they think are most important in
top managers. Brainstorm their answers and write them
1 Have students w r i te some samp l e arti cles for the
Actually create a class magazine based on the ideas put
forward from the group. Have everyone make at least
some kind of contribution. Offer special prizes for the
best and most entertaining contributions.
on the board.
1 Students work in pairs and order the qualities listed: from
most important to least important.
If they strongly disagree on anything, they should note
Finally, they should d iscuss what perks will help to
Pai rs give feedback to the group on their conclusions.
attract the best possible candidate for the job.
Look at real recruitment notices in business magazines and
in applicants and any examples of perks that go with the
newspapers. Identify any examples of qualities required
There are quite big variations in acceptance of home
working from one country to another, and even from
one company to another, so this activity is a good way of
28 Form filling
sounding out attitudes to what seems set to be a growing
Giving and taking down basic information is a prosaic
ally, from the hotel guest to the transnational job appli
but essential skill for anyone communicating internation
Establish that students understand the term and then ask
I if they have direct experience of homeworking or if
cant. This activity gives opportunities for practice i n
spelling, number work, listening, cross-cultural explana
they know anyone who has
tions (in the case of mixed nationality pairs trying to
explain, for example, exam qualifications to each other)
2 how far homeworking is or would be culturally accept
able within the students ' countries/professional areas/
to practice in one or more of these areas.
This initial short discussion may also help you decide how
and so on. You may wish to use the activity as follow-up
to allot roles.
The purpose of the form has deliberately been left unspec
I Get the students to read through their own list of ideas
ified so that the students themselves can choose whether
it is the first part of, e.g. a job application form,an insur
in the description and to prepare to present them.
ance policy application, or other document. Once they
2 Tell them to try and anticipate what the other students
have decided, they can begin the role play appropriately.
are going to say. Among the lists of arguments and
counter-arguments there are some which clearly mirror
each other,but since the order of points is not the same,
1 The activ� ty will probably work better if you only issue
the students will need a certain agility in order to have
one sheet at a time (see Follow-up below) so that at least
the right counter-argument ready at the right time. Hence
run through. The weaker of the two should therefore ask
3 Tell the students that once the discussion has actually
one of the students does not see the form during the first
the importance of preparation.
the questions first.
2 Since the form is quite long, it may be advisable to set
begun,they can put forward their own points in any order
they like but they should use all the arguments even
a time limit (of twenty minutes each) on the activity to
tually, including their own.
discourage students from getting too bogged down in
4 At the end of the discussion,you could ask pairs to actu
the details of previous jobs or long-gone schooldays.
ally trace the order in which the points were raised and
to see whether any pairing of arguments was achieved,
e.g. between At and
(A and B) has the same information to allow
them each in tum to obtain information from the other,
making two separate activities.
B2, A4 and
A2 and B4, A3 and
A 5 and B3, AS and
B5 . . .
Discuss the longer-term implications of homeworking.
For example, if people no longer need to travel in such
large numbers to a place of work, what implications thh
will have on:
I the shape of cities
2 family life
3 transport and communications.
This can lead to a more general discussion on the futun �
of jobs as we currently know them, a theme which ties it
with ideas which could arise in Activity
30 Industrial espionage
This role play i nvolves two presentations and a fairly
conflictive and hostile negotiation. It is unlikely to result
in a friendly agreement.
I what industrial espionage is
2 if they know of any famous cases
3 if headhunting causes problems in this respect.
I Students will need three to four minutes to prepare.
2 A gives a presentation, outlining hislher complaints.
3 B responds, perhaps after a short adjournment to prepare.
4 S ome d iscussion follows i n an effort to reach a
5 If no settlement is reached, they should say what the
next step will be.
Students can exchange formal letters summarizing the
meeting and outlining the next action to take.
1 Allow time to prepare, during which students read their
2 A 'practice run' may be useful, in which students may
look at their notes. After a rehearsal, they should be less
dependent on their notes.
3 Students should allow the conversation to be as infor
mal and wide-ranging as possible. It is important that
they are not tied to their notes, nor the order in the
book, nor any particular viewpoint. Emphasize that the
discussion should be flexible and wide-ranging.
Elicit general comments from the entire group on advan
tages and disadvantages of international business. What
do your group see as the most important advantages? Have
they identified any that are not included in the book?
32 Job satisfaction
You can encourage people to talk about their current levels
of job satisfaction, but also about satisfaction with past
jobs, and so on, for example, the best job I ever had, my
ideal job, etc.
This activity is a general discussion within a social context.
The social element will work better if you prepare a few
props, such as a tray and a couple of glasses and a drink
or two for each pair. This drama element will greatly help
the role playing element and add to the desired informal
ity of the language practice.
Are people generally happy in their work? If so, what
makes them happy? If n04 why not? S tronger students may
go more or less straight into the activity. With others, you
may wish first of all to invite the group to brainstorm
their ideas about factors contributing to job satisfaction
before you give them copies of the activity itself. Once
they have the copies, you may also wish to go through the
list of factors with them in order to ensure that all the mean
ings of all the factors are clearly understood.
I Stress the informal context and remind learners that
while the topic for the discussion is i:'ii.ernational market
ing, the informal context makes it very likely that the
conversation may easily wander away from the central
theme and then return to it. This is typical of informal
2 Ask students what experience they have of interna
tional business. If they have direct or professional expe
rience, elicit some comments on the advantages and
disadvantages of doing business internationally.
3 Refer to other activities in the book with a socializing
dimension, e.g. Activity 9: Business Anecdote and
Activity 57: Small Talk.
It may help students if they first of all organize the points
into broader headings, for example, financial and non. financial considerations. They can probably suggest other
broad categories themselves.
1 As with any exercise in prioritizing. you can follow
the first pair work stage with a pyramid exercise asking two pairs to agree on a common order, and so
on until the class has agreed on a collective order of
2 You can then reveal the results of a survey of British
employees as follows (the figures in brackets are the
percentage of respondents who believed the factor to
be either extremely important or important):
Interesting, challenging work (87%)
Open, two-way communication (80%)
Opportunities for growth and development (77%)
Realistic performance management (67%)
Secure employment (61 %)
The right balance between work and private life
Involvement in decision-making (55%)
Performance-based pay (5 1 %)
Fair pay (39%)
Non-monetary rewards and recognition (39%)
Portable pension ( 1 4%)
Other ideas (5%)
33 J ust-in-time management
34 Management development
This exercise gives free rein to students to devise a train
ing programme which, they must argue, really would be
Encourage students to talk, first of all, about their own expe
riences of training and development programmes in the past.
Which ones are the most memorable and why? What makes
a good training or development programme? And for
personnel professionals, what is the difference between
'training' and 'development' ?
This role play is a telephone call involving a negotiation
to settle a problem over a delivery. B oth sides are keen to
reach a friendly solution.
Briefly ask what is meant by 'Just-in-time management'
and why it is generally seen as 'a good thing' .
The methodology for selecting the three final options has
deliberately been left undefined. Although the employee
choosing the programme is regarded as mature, the HR
manager may still feel that the company should have a say
in the choices made and so may wish, for example, to
systematize the choice by measuring the gap (see also
Activity 1 8: Competence Development) between what the
employee can do now and what he/she might need to be
able to do in the future.
Put next Monday's date in Article 6.0 1 in the contract.
Give students two or three minutes to study their role
information. Remind them that it is not necessary for
them to understand every word in the contract, only
the general idea.
3 B telephones A and states the problem.
4 Together they have to work out the best possible solu
Both parties can write a fax or letter summarizing what
they have agreed.
You will thus be able to compare the methodologies
of the different HR managers during the feedback
session after the activity has been completed. You may
wish to have As and Bs reverse roles before this.
2 Finally, ask students how the programme they have
devised can be evaluated for cost effectiveness.
35 Managing an investment portfolio
The topic is formal but the situation is not: this is an infor
mal discussion between two friends in a restaurant.
Introduce a fe-.J props to help with the atmosphere. You
could play the role of waiter, switching ,from table to table
with drinks and questions like ' Is everything all right with
your meal, sir/madam?'
1 what an investment portfolio may be like
2 what people invest in
Answer: it may contain a spread of investments in vari
ous sectors, industries, companies, countries, etc.
3 what they hope to achieve from having an investmenportfolio
Answer: profit, fun, interest
4 what managing an investment portfolio means.
Answer: checking its progress, keeping track of the
financial news and the performance of one's invest
ments, buying and selling investments, instructing one's
I Allow some preparation time, partly to discuss the lead
in questions and partly so students can understand their
notes. They can keep them with them to make a few
notes during the discussion.
2 Try to establish the context and the informality. Remind
students that they can go ' off the subject' as much as
they like. The role play will work all the better if you
can play up the restaurant feature.
3 At the end each pair should summarize what they have
4 As an option, make copies of the financial press avail
able for students to identify likely good investments.
Especially enterprising students might like to take a regu
lar look at the financial press to monitor companies'
37 Market share
This activity provides opportunities for presentation skills
as well as a negotiation. The two parties begin from quite
different perspectives so they need to compromise to reach
agreement. It is possible there will be no agreement, in which
case a decision can be postponed. See Follow-up below.
1 why market share is important
2 why companies pay a lot of attention to their market
3 what is often a risk for smaller companies in competi
tive markets (answer: being taken over).
4 what are the possible actions for small companies that
are being squeezed by larger ones (answers: to compete
on quality and price - though the latter is difficult
because they may not be abl� to make economies of
scale; to seek partnerships; to concentrate on special
ist areas of expertise - (niche markets) to invest in
expansion - a risky option).
36 Managing the future
This examination of the future can be rapidly developed
from a business application to a much more general view
of the future shape of the world in general.
The sector has been left open for the students to choose:
they can either choose their own organization or one they
know well or invent one. Sectors like oil, telecoms and
computing are obvious candidates if they need prompting.
If students need any encouragement, you can invite them
to think about the impact of technological, demographic.
cultural and environmental (e.g. climatic) change on the
future shape of business.
This exercise can be repeated with the roles reversed: the
student who took the role of the journalist in the first
round can now take the role of the future watcher and
answer questions about what shape the world - and the
company - will be in fifteen or twenty years from now.
This activity could be a particularly rich source of follow
Each student presents the information on their respec
tive sectors. The pie chart information can be repro
duced on an overhead transparency for more effective
presentation. (Photocopy the figures, enlarging them
and transfer them onto an acetate).
Student A starts by summarizing the present position
for the schools market and suggesting some action,
especially the merger of the two sectors.
B should present the information on the Sports Centre
sector and counter A 's suggestion as diplomatically as
possible. They should try to persuade each other and
in the end work towards a negotiated agreement.
Option: have two pairs work together, so creating teams
of As and Bs.
The negotiation should conclude with a clear summary
of what h�s been agreed.
If you carry out this activity in pairs and in some cases
no agreement is reached, add other individuals to the
pairs where there has been no agreement to contribute
more to the discussion and to push the group towards
2 Write a letter summarizing the action agreed.
3 9 Negotiating a deal
This is another activity (like, for example, the B usiness
in the Community and B usiness and the Environment
activities) which is designed to help teachers of Business
English who are interested in using materials relating to
global issues of poverty, environment and so on in their
work (see Follow-up below). Micro-lending is currently
a fast-growing and successful development in development
economics and the information in this activity is based on
actual success stories in Indonesia and Bolivia. It should
be of particular interest to students in banking; students
from developing countries; students with an interest in
development; and pre-service business students of all
This is a role play involving a buyer and a seller. Both want
the best deal possible, both will have to be flexible.
Ask students if they understand the term Micro-lending
or if they can guess what it might mean. Once they have
established that it relates to small-scale lending in the
developing world, ask them to reflect on how such a system
might work and what its advantages might be.
S tudent B s will need time to take in the information
presented to them. They should study the information
available and be encouraged to add to it in order to increase
the credibility of the situation. The role of student As will
be to obtain as much information as possible before decid
ing whether to advance the money or not.
I There should be class feedback on who decided what
and why. Ask how many As were convinced by Bs' argu
ments and then develop a more general discussion about
the feasibility of this approach.
2 If you are interested in getting more information about
micro-lending, contact the Consultative Group to Assist
the Poorest at CGAP Secretariat, The World Bank, 1 8 1 8
H Street NW, Washington DC 20433, tel: 202 473 9594,
fax: 202 522 3744, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
3 Teachers of Business English interested in Global Issues
should join the Global Issues Special Interest Group
(GISIG) of the International Association of Teachers of
English as a Foreign Language. Contact GISIGJ IATEFL
at 3 Kingsdown Chambers, Kingsdown Park, Whitstable,
Kent, England CT5 20J, tel : + 44 (0) 1 227 276528, fax:
+44 (0) 1 227 2744 1 5 .
Ask pairs of students to work out a definition of 'negoti
ation' . Elicit suggestions, highlight key words that occur
in different suggestions. Then perhaps offer a synthesis:
a negotiation is 'a communication process involving two
or more parties in which agreement is reached through
compromise' . The key elements are agreement and compro
Ask students what makes negotiations successful and
what causes them to break down. Negotiations typically
break down because the parties involved are unable to
compromise sufficiently - often for very good reasons.
1 Student B should present the list of options available,
with some indication of the likely costs. There should
definitely be flexibility in what B offers and he/she
should lead a discussion, where various ideas are put
forward and students have to support or criticize them,
depending on their notes and/or opinion. Either A can
present all hislher ideas and then B responds, or (better)
A presents one idea to which B responds until all items
have been discussed.
2 The idea is to reach compromises and therefore agree
ment on what recommendations to make. There is poten
tial for conflict, but a solution has to be reached.
3 This activity is a good example of one that could be
handled by a team of two or three negotiators on each
side. You could have students work in groups of four
or six. In this way, teams can work out a more detailed
strategy and call adjournments where appropriate to
re-focus their negotiating strategy.
4 The negotiation should conclude with a clear summary
of what has been agreed.
5 It is conceivable that no agreement is reached.
1 Different negotiations will produce different results so
these can be compared between pairs or groups.
2 Set up another negotiation in which students work out
the context and parameters of a new role play. The
students should initially determine the basic subject
and aim of the negotiation and some key facts. Once
they divide into pairs or teams they can add specific
details which will only come out in the actual negoti
ation. Once the preparation is complete, the negotiation
can take place.
This is based on the true life case of a company's concern
about a group of employees working too hard. If neces
sary, explain that the case in fact derives from Scandinavia
where there are constraints on the number of hours employ
ees work, and where proposals for additional hours have
to be negotiated with trades unions. This is also broadly
true throughout the European Union. The authors would
be most interested to hear from B usiness English trainers
about other bizarre true life anecdotes.
This is a light-hearted discussion activity leading to an
option of an informal presentation of a new product idea.
With group classes, it can be treated as a major project
leading to an Innovations Show (see below).
Ask students if:
1 they are clear what a nerd is and if they recognize the
2 if they know any nerds
3 if their organization employs any
4 if they are a problem.
40 Nerd management
Make it clear to students that the emphasis here is on
discussion. However, to give structure to the activity:
1 Get the students to read through the briefing for the activ
2 Tell them to agree on an agenda before they begin to
start the discussion. This could be:
• Definition of the problem
• Possible solutions
• Plan of action
• Summary of meeting
3 The brainstorming part of the meeting (item 2) could
be managed by prioritizing the different ideas, perhaps
using a whiteboard.
Ask students to let their imaginations run free: what new
product would revolutionize their lives? A virtual reality
car? A completely automated kitchen? A virtual reality
family? A robot to decorate the house while you are on
holiday? A television that follows you around? It may not
be necessary to offer such prompts but it may at least set
the not-too-serious tone.
I Students work in pairs or in small groups.
2 They should brainstorm on the type of product they
want to create, then go through all the various points
on the checklist.
3 Once they have the basic information, they can begin
preparing the best way to present it. Depending on how
much time you want to spend on this, it can be a fairly
superficial job (but full of creative energy and enthu
siasm) or it can be quite a polished presentation.
4 Pairs or groups present their ideas as a kind of
Innovations Show, with points awarded for the various
5 Award a prize to the most inspired concept.
Have students write 'product reviews' .
Ask students if the case reminds them of anything simi
lar in their experience. Ask them if they have any expe
rience of other groups of employees who collectively
'enjoy' poor communication with the rest of the company.
What action was/could be taken in these other cases?