Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher, trainer, writer and manager

Business: a lesson plan

On Monday I had a cover class with an upper intermediate business group I had not met before. I decided to start with a word and see how the lesson developed. This was the result:

business

We started with just the word ‘business’ on the board. The class discussed what this word meant to them, then added the results to a brainstorm on the board. We talked about any problem vocab and added a few extra words. One student wrote ‘Dow Jones’ so we added the names of other financial indexes and talked about how they worked. Using as much of the vocabulary on the board, students then worked in pairs to create a definition of business.

business?

I then added a question mark, and the students talked about what business should be. They came up with five categories in which businesses should bear responsibility:

  • strategy
  • sustainability
  • people
  • fair trade and money (they felt both were smaller categories)
  • society

Each pair took responsibility for one category and brainstormed specific areas of responsibility within their category. We then set up an onion ring system. [One person from each pair stands in an inner ring facing out, and the other stands in an outer ring facing in. To start with everyone faces their original partner (from the previous activity). One ring then moves round to face the next person in the circle. They share ideas and try to add to them for a specific time, before the whole ring moves round to the next people. By the end of the activity, one person in the inner ring should have spoken to every person in the outer ring and vice versa.] After speaking to five people and hearing about all of the other categories, the pairs sat together again and fed back on what they head and anything which they added to their own category.

The final step in the lesson was to create a short mission statement based on the ideas. We had a quick look at Ben & Jerry’s mission statement and chose some useful sentence stems to put on the board. The pairs then turned their notes into sentences for the mission statement. I typed them up after class, and the resulting statement is now on the board, and below for you to see (click to enlarge):

MIssion Statement of B2 business class

MIssion Statement of B2 business class 2

You can also download a copy.

If I had continued to teach the class for longer, I might have used this mission statement as the first in a series of lessons in which we set up a class company. The mission statement would form the foundation of any ‘decisions’ we made during the project.

I did feel that although there was a lot of speaking and a little writing in this class it wasn’t as challenging as it could have been for an upper intermediate class. I would be grateful for any suggestions to improve it.

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Comments on: "Business: a lesson plan" (2)

  1. An interesting approach to a lesson. I wondered if you were teaching the students in their company, or at your school? If you had known more about the group; their jobs and products/services their companies provide perhaps you could have formulated statements directly relating to their fields e.g. “Supply-chain efficiency is the most important aspect of Business” or “sustainability in HR is the most important issue today.” Then they could have debated these points and related them directly to their own company/work field. Also when you created the five categories and got them to brainstorm ideas connected these themes you could have again got them to argue about which theme is the most essential to a company (of course, the fact is that they are all necessary, but businesses today don’t value them in the same way and this is an interesting point of discussion). Re the mission statement,’ perhaps you could have asked them what their company’s/companies’ mission statements are and compared them to B&J’s. They could also have tried to rewrite their own statements to create one that included a refernce to all five category areas. Certainly, it looks like a fun way to appraoch the topic of business and an excellent springboard for future lessons. Another way could be to give them definitons/famous quotes relating to business and get to discuss which they think is the closest to their own idea.

    Just one question, what do you actually mean with ‘businesses should bear responsibility in terms of strategy – do you mean the company’s own startegy? Were you discussing who has influence on creating the straegy? Also when you mentioned people and then society what was the difference between these two categories?

    Smart idea tho, good work!

    Phil

    Like

    • Hi Phil,
      It was a school business class, with students from around the world studying 2 hours of business English per day in the UK, some with business experience and others without. This was the main reason I tried to keep it quite general.
      I think the student meant that the business should think about their strategies carefully, although I didn’t have time to explore it much as it was right at the end of the lesson. With people, we were thinking about those working for the company, and for society we were looking at the business’s impact on society as a whole.
      Thanks very much for your tips,
      Sandy

      Like

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