Lessons & Classroom Games for Teachers

ESL Business Vocabulary Games
By:Tasos Vossos

The "business language" is one of the most difficult topics when learning English. The idioms, slang and the wide variety of technical terms used in business are a nightmare even for native speakers. Just because business ESL students are professionals eager to learn the language does not mean they will not be frustrated with repetitive vocabulary exercises. For this reason, games can help teachers make lessons more compelling and help students absorb business vocabulary.

Match Terms and Definitions
Create two lists on the board, one containing business terms, such as overdraft, interest, sole proprietor and limited partnership and another one with concise definitions of the terms. Two groups of students will take turns trying to match each term with the correct definition, with the winner being the team with the most successful matches. You can also make photocopies of the two lists and hand them to students, so that they can test their knowledge with every term and definition. The winner will be the first to match the correct pairs.

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
Make a variation of the famous television game by replacing general knowledge questions with questions of strictly business vocabulary content. Include the usual lifelines, 50:50, ask the audience and phone a friend elements, only this time the friend will be you. Only one student can answer the questions, so you must repeat the game--not with the same questions--in successive lessons, so that all students have the chance to test their vocabulary skills.

Twenty Questions
Another variation of a popular game in a business ESL classroom can be 20 questions. Each player must find the business term another player has in mind asking 20 questions at the most. For instance, a player can ask if the term refers to companies, if it refers to money, if it is an action with money, if it is an action at a bank, if it is a withdrawal and, finally, if it is a deposit.

Teachers must give a specific business topic to students, such as transactions, banks and stock exchange and let them try to come up with relevant words, beginning with every letter of the alphabet. For example, the transactions topic has words beginning with "S" for seller, "B" for buyer and "R" for receipt. Impose a strict time limit, preferably less than 10 minutes. Encourage students to justify the usage of words that do not seem relevant at first sight.

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