12 Fun Business Socialising Language Activities

Alex Case
Useful and stimulating practice of being a host and guest in restaurants, bars, sporting events, etc, with business socialising games

Business students often say that the difficult part of using English in their jobs is not the content of the meetings, emails, reports, etc, but the chitchat and other social English that can go on around it. Of all such situations, spending time with foreign people in social situations eating and drinking (and maybe doing other things like watching sport) is both the most fun and the most challenging. This article gives twelve ways of intensively practising such situations in ways which are fun enough to be painless to do and even to do again.

Business socialising simplest responses

Students listen to phrases from a conversation in a bar or restaurant and hold up cards saying “Host” or “Guest” when they hear phrases like “Thanks for your hospitality” and “It’s my treat”, plus maybe some which can used by both like “Do you often eat out?” After labelling those phrases on a worksheet with G or H, they can see how many such phrases they can remember or think of by brainstorming into more specific categories for each person such as “Offering” and “Asking for information”.

Business socialising tips and useful phrases

Make or find some good and bad socialising tips like “Check if they have any dietary restrictions” and “Compliment them many times if they can eat the local food/ can use local eating utensils”, with accompanying phrases like “Is there anything you don’t eat or drink?” After crossing off the bad tips, students try to remember the useful phrases to do the good things.

Business socialising cultural differences and useful phrases

This is similar to the activity above, but they label each tip like “People usually argue over who pays” with what countries they know it to be true in. They then try to remember the accompanying useful phrases for doing those things like “No, no, no, I insist. Please allow me”.

Business socialising board games

Business socialising is good for board games as it tends to have clear steps from the start to end that can make up the beginning, middle and end of the board, for example from arranging the event to sending a follow-up email after it has finished. As they go around the board, students roleplay the situation mentioned in the square that they are on, with their partner(s) as the foreign people they are socialising with, then they can move on around the board. It is possible to use a dice or coin to decide how far they progress each time, but I prefer to set criteria like “little silence” and “asked about or explained related things” that they have to achieve during that stage to get points. They then move on by one square for each point that they got.

Business socialising explanations activities

Make a list of things that students might have to explain such as local foods that foreigners tend not to know and local places you might want to invite people to. Activities with such lists include students working together to explain those things well, challenging the other person to explain them, and explaining one without saying which for the other person to guess (and then maybe criticise the explanation).

Business socialising good and bad responses

Students listen to a socialising phrase like “Please sit anywhere you like” and try to choose the best from responses like “Thanks”, “You are too kind” and “No, no, no, please. You choose for me”. After choosing the same responses on a worksheet, they try to write good responses on a worksheet that has just the prompt phrases.

Business socialising card games

Cards can decide what kinds of places that they socialise at, other aspects of the event like how well they know each other, conversation topics, phrases that they should try to use, keywords that they should try to use, or functions that they should try to use (“request”, etc).

Business socialising problem roleplays

Although business socialising is challenging and interesting enough to usually be done straight as many times as you like, problem roleplays like “The guest has lots of dietary restrictions” and “You don’t like any of the same sports or arts and media” can be a fun challenge, prepare them for tricky real-life situations, and make the smoother real-life situations seem less stressful. 

Business socialising coin games

Every time that there could be either a positive or negative answer (after “Do you know what this thing on the menu is?”, “Do you have any allergies?”, etc), the other person flips a coin to see if their response should be positive (heads) or negative (tails). This is good practice for polite negative replies and dealing with tricky situations.

Business socialising dice games

A dice can decide how long the roleplay will last for (“1 = three minutes”, etc), how many people will attend, how well they know each other (“1 = never met before”, etc), what kind of place they will socialise in, etc.  

Business socialising politeness competitions

Students choose one short and/ or rude phrase on the board or worksheet like “Try this” or “No, that sounds disgusting”, then take turns making it more and more polite, as in “Please try this”, “You really should try this” and “I think you might like this. Do you want to give it a try?” As with those examples, that will usually also mean that the sentences get longer and longer. They stop whenever they can’t go any further, discuss which is likely to be best phrase in real life, then do the same with another overly direct phrase from the worksheet.

Business socialising list dictations

Students listen to a list of words or phrases and try to guess that they are all descriptions of food, are all small talk questions, are all polite negative answers, etc. After doing the same with around ten lists, they label the same things on a worksheet, they can then brainstorm the same and similar language into a blank worksheet with the same categories as headings.

Written by Alex Case for EnglishClub.com
Alex Case is the author of TEFLtastic and the Teaching...: Interactive Classroom Activities series of business and exam skills e-books for teachers
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