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Business English activities

Activity 1

Aim of Activity: three ways to exploit the topic of investing Level: C1 Grouping: pair-work (two pairs) Handouts, materials needed: an article cut into four Timing: 15-20 minutes are needed Description of procedure: The activity starts with an introduction into the topic. Students are asked whether they have ever thought about investing money in anything. Then students are given extracts from the same article that they have to read on their own then summarise it to their peers. During the next part students work in groups. Each group has to choose two of the previously highlighted words from the text that they have to define to the members of the other group, who have to make guesses on the words. Finally, the whole article is put together in order by the students. Follow-up: students are given the original article. Unknown words are discussed. Source: the original article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20701742

Everyone has a financial goal. Whether it is saving up for a holiday or buying a house, we all have aspirations that need financing. Most people start off by putting some money away each month into a cash savings account. It is usually only when we have built up an "emergency pot", and have a bit more disposable income, that we start thinking about how we could make our savings work harder. This is when saving generally becomes investing. Why bother? With interest rates at such low levels, someone saving 200 a month into a cash account, paying just 0.5% annual interest, would earn you 24,614 over 10 years. Of that, the accumulated interest would be just 614. If you can find an investment that would return 7% per annum, the extra return could generate a pot of money worth 34,404. The world of investments can seem complicated and beyond our reach, with some people mistakenly believing only the rich can afford to dabble in the stock market, but that simply is not true. Anyone can invest and for as little as 50 per month. ----

Pooled funds Once you have decided on the type of investment you want to make, you should consider how you will invest. Investing in an individual company or bond requires a considerable amount of time and research and can be costly. It can also be risky as you may be putting your faith in the fortunes of just one or two companies. So unless you have the time and inclination to research them yourself, the most popular way of investing is via a fund, although there are other products available too. Funds such as unit trusts or investment trusts will have a professional manager investing your money. They will pool your money with that of other investors and use it to purchase a larger number of assets (usually 40-100). They will also review the investments to make sure they are doing well and change them if necessary.

Getting started First, you should think about your financial goal. What are your reasons for investing? What is your timescale? And how much money will you need to achieve this goal? Then you need to think about your own tolerance to risk. For example, are you investing for a period of 10 years or more and comfortable that, during this time, the value of your investment may go up and down, or are you close to retirement and would prefer a steady stream of income? Next you need to decide what type of investment you think will fit your attitude to risk, while still being likely to achieve your goal. There is a vast array of different asset classes, or types of investment, available. The most common are shares and bonds, although some people also invest in property and commodities. ----Range of investments Shares are the most well known and conventional type of investment. They are simply a stake in a company, such as Marks & Spencer, which will often pay its shareholders a regular dividend. Shareholders benefit from any profit, income or gains enjoyed by that company. A bond is a glorified IOU, a loan to a company or government that wishes to raise some money. The time period and the value of the loan are set in advance, with a predetermined rate of interest to be paid to the investor, who get al their money back at the end. For example, a loan of 100 over five years with an interest rate of 3%. Bonds are deemed to be at the lower end of the risk scale. Shares are more risky than bonds, but can be more financially rewarding over the long term. Investments in property could be in a home (like a buy-to-let flat) or owning commercial property like shops, hospitals or factories. You can also buy shares in property-related companies. Commodities are physical substances that are mined or grown such as gold, silver or oil or even grain and coffee.

Activity 2 Aim of Activity: learning new vocabulary items in groups concerning leadership and management styles Level: B2 Grouping: three groups or four Handouts, materials needed: a crossword with the definition of words (from Business Vocabulary in Use p. 97) and two texts showing the words in context (p. 96). Timing: 10-15 minutes Description of procedure: From each group an initate is chosen. The rest of the groups are given the definitions (without the crossword) and a list of the words that are sought. The initiates work together in a separate group and they are given the text that they have to study. They make notes of the words and their meanings. In the last part of the activity each initiate goes back to their group and help them check their guesses on the matching of phrases and definitions and fill in the crossword, which is now given to them. Follow-up: every student is given the text. Source: Bill Mascull: Cambridge Business Vocabulary in Use (2002), unit 44

Activity 3 Aim of Activity: learning an expressive and varied list of idioms expressing succes and failure Level: B2-C1 Grouping: individual work (can be easily adapted ot group-work) Handouts, materials needed: a list of idioms exressing failure and success, a list of sentences and a task about matching idioms and definitions Timing: 10 minutes Description of procedure: Each student is given a list of 24 idioms (A) relating to success and failure. Their first task is to make a guess on which should be associated with which of the two. During the next part of the activity they are given a list of sentences using these phrases (B). Students can correct their guesses after reading the sentences. During the last part of the activity students are given a list of definitions (C) which should be matched with the idioms. Follow-up: students are asked who could make the most good guesses at the first time. Source: Glenn Darragh: Bsuiness Idioms. 1,000 Everyday Idioms in Business (2000). p. 7783 A. success come out on top do the trick rise from the ashes get on top of sth make a killing by leaps and bounds make a splash make one's mark be home and dry get sth off the ground failure go bust go to the wall come a cropper make a dent in sth go to the dogs go downhill go down the drain

reach a dead end fall flat (on one's face) a damp squib B. That's Rupert Murdoch for you: breaking the rules, defying convention, waging war by any means necessary and usually coming out on top. Korean officials tried to downplay their needs, saying they thought that only 20 billion from the IMF would do the trick. In 1997, Apple lost $1 billion and noone believed it could survive. In its first fiscal year since Steve Jobs took over as interim C.E.O., the company rose from the ashes, making a profit of $309 million. When you're faced with some large, intimidating job, you have to learn to break it into small, specific tasks. If you don't get on top of it, you'll get buried underneath. Until Bill Gates and his fellow shareholders made a killing at Microsoft, increasing returns were thought to exist only in textbooks. Now their existence in high-tech markets (like software and multimedia) is widely acknowledged. The market for our products is growing by leaps and bounds in Europe. Revenues are expected to risef rom $4 million last year to $18 million by 2004. DonatellaVersace made a splash with her fourth collection since the death of her brother Gianni, shown yesterday in Milan. A simple and memorable electronic address is essential for any company or organisation trying to make its mark on the Internet. I've been informed unofficially that we've been awarded the contract. The meeting tomorrow is merely a formality, so you can all relax.We're already home and dry. I started the company entirely on my own, but it was tiny for the first couple of years. I could never have got it off the ground without a good sales manager. Aiwa, half-owned by Sony, almost went bust in the late 1980s when the yen rose sharply following the Plaza Accord of 1985. When Philip Morris knocked 40c off apacket of Marlboro, $47 billion was instantly wiped off the market value of America stop twenty cigarette manufacturers. Lesser brands went to the wall. In the next 15 years we are bound to have a radical change in automotive technology, most likely in the engine. When that happens, most of the worlds automakers will come a cropper. In the business of hooking people up to the internet, Microsoft is already trailing badly unable to make a dent in the progress of America Online. It used to be one of the most efficient firms in the city, but since Old Weston died and his son took over, it's gone to the dogs. Now half the time they don't even answer the phone. After peaking at $87 last December the week Microsoft declared war Netscape's shares have gone steadily downhill, recently trading in themid-30s. You owe it to yourself and your family to provide for the future of your business. Don't let all your hard work and investment go down the drain for lack of insurance. We spent years trying to develop a prototype but simply couldn't resolve the technical problems. Finally we realised we had reached a dead end and abandoned the project entirely. Intuit fell flat on its face in early 1995 when hundreds of customers called to tell stories about how bugs in its Turbo Tax product were making a mess of their income tax returns. Tesco's rivals were dismissive of its recent price cuts. It is a damp squib, Asda said.They are only playing catch-up and we are still cheaper even after the new prices.

C. To have the desired effect To make a large profit Very quickly To be no longer in danger of failing, but sure of success To cause a sensation by showing ones abilities or qualities To make something start successfully To be able to deal with something, e.g. work or difficulties, successfully To develop out of ruin into new life and importance To succeed or achieve recognition To be successful or victorious To be no longer of good quality, to be in decline or near ruin To go back to the starting point after a failed attempt ats omething To become less successful or of lower quality To suffer a sudden misfortune or failure To come to a point where no further progress can be made To go bankrupt, to be forced to stop operating (an attempt,a joke) To fail dismally To reduce, (a person's reputation, etc.) to hurt or to lessen (money, effort,etc.) To be wasted or lost (companies, entrepreneurs,etc.)To be ruined, to be pushed aside as worthless

Activity 4 Aim of Activity: drawing attention to ethical issues in business and practice discussion Level: B2-C1 Grouping: pair-work Handouts, materials needed: role cards Timing: 10 minutes Description of procedure: Students in pairs are handed out ethical issues like - sweatshop labour (should a company rely on Asian manufactorer that underpay workers?) - affirmative action program (using gender-based quotas to discrimination?) - enviormental damages (should a company do more for environmental-friendliness than what is regulated by law?) - imitating style and image of market leader by smaller companies (is it an ethical issue? should it be banned by the code of ethics?) Each student has a role-card according to wich they should argue for or against a statement. They have 10 minutes for a debate, come up with arguments (and hopefully to reach some sort of a consensus) Follow-up: pairs summarise their issues and what they have reached during the debate. Source: no specific, but some inspiration came from unit 41 (Ethics) in Bill Mascull: Cambridge Business Vocabulary in Use (2002) avoid sexual

Activity 5 Aim of Activity: to practice describe changes in prices Level: B1-B2 Grouping: individual work Handouts, materials needed: graphs showing the change in prices handed out separately, a collection of sentences describing the graphs Timing: 15 minutes Description of procedure: Each student is given a graph he or she should not show the others. The student has to describe in his or her own words what change the graph shown in prices. If there is enough graph for every student all the graphs should be shown by a projector or a bigger piece of paper so that while the student describes his or her graph the rest of the class should guess which one is described. If there is not enough graph for every student the students without a graph might draw up the graph on the board and it is revealed later whether his or her drawing is accurate or not. After this part students are given eight sentences that are models given by a book to describe the graphs, which are now easy to match to the graphs. Follow-up: a short group discussion on which share seemes to be the best to invest in Source: Steve Flinders: Professional English. Business: General (2003), Unit 39

Descriptions: 1. The share price reached a peak. 2. The share price rose slightly. 3. The share price went up steadily. 4. The share price increased dramatically. 5. The share price reached a low point and then recovered. 6. The share price decreased slowly. 7. The share price fluctuated. 8. The share price levelled out. 9. The shares fell rapidly. 10. The share price went down steadily.