MED Magazine - Issue 27 - February 2005
Top Tips for Business English
Teaching socializing skills
by Rosemary Richey
This final article in the series on teaching essential
Business English skills deals with socializing. Good socializing skills
form the basis for any successful business interaction be it in the context
of a presentation, meeting, or negotiation.
The language and skills featured here are appropriate
for upper intermediate and advanced levels.
|Review with your students the various
situations in which people socialize in a business context. Assign
pairs one situation each from the list below and ask them to brainstorm
and come up with a couple of example phrases. If necessary, write
an example on the board, e.g. Welcoming: It's a pleasure
to welcome you at ...
||getting to know each
||typical everyday contact
|Get students to share their phrases with
the whole class. Start a discussion about how the use of each phase
can impact business either positively or negatively.
Language and skill components
Successful socializing depends on the appropriate language
and skills. The following list contains key functions and useful language
for basic socializing in a business context.
A Basic socializing
||Welcome to ...
We're pleased to welcome you (all) to ...
It's a pleasure to welcome you (all) to ...
||How do you do? (formal)
How are you/you
Nice/Good to meet
It's a pleasure (to
||My name's ... I'm (position/job)
I'd like to introduce myself ...
Let me introduce myself ...
We haven't met yet. I'm ...
I'd like to introduce you to ...
Have you met ...?
||How was your flight/trip?
How's the hotel?
Did you have any problems/trouble
How's the weather in ...?
What do you think of our weather?
Could I take your coat/umbrella?
Would you care for something to drink?
How do you take your coffee/tea?
|getting to know each other
||How long have you been working for ...?
How did you get into this line of business?
How do you like living in ...?
What's your home town?
What do you do in your spare time?
|typical everyday contacts
||How are you today?
How are things?
Nice to see you again.
I was wondering if ...
Would you mind if ...
Could I ask a favour of you?/Could
you do me a favour
||We'd like to invite you to ...
Could we arrange a meeting/dinner
for ... ?
Would you be interested in ...?
Would you like to attend/come
Would ... suit you/be
Shall we say (about)
That sounds fine/great.
Let me just confirm that ...
I look forward to seeing you then.
||I'd like to get the next round of drinks.
Could I propose a toast to ...?
Here's to ...
The drinks are on me.
I'm treating you.
I'll pick up the tab.
||I wanted to ask you about ...
I was wondering if ...
While we're on the subject ...
I'd like to mention ...
By the way ...
That reminds me ...
Do you see what I mean/I'm
So are you saying ...?
||I'm afraid I really must be on my way.
I really do need to wrap this up now.
you very much for ...
It was nice/a pleasure
to meet/see you.
I look forward to ...
Please get in touch soon.
I'll give you a call/email
Bye. Take care.
Have a good flight/trip.
Safe journey back!
B General language points
Polite forms, with
could, would and may, permeate the language used
Particular polite phrases
such as I was wondering if I could borrow your pen or Would
you mind if I borrowed your pen review the second conditional form.
Let me ... is
a common way of asking permission to assist or to do something for someone.
provide practice for use of the present simple vs present continuous,
e.g. I work for ... Right now I'm working on ... , and the past
simple and present perfect, e.g. I lived and worked in London for 3
years. I've lived in Dublin since I started my new job in 2001.
Teaching ideas and resources
Socializing is a complex skill to develop. Students need
to build their confidence in a variety of contexts where making a good
impression on a client or customer is of paramount importance. To practice
essential language for socializing, try out these activities:
|| Create cards or strips with questions and answers
on them. Students match the question to the right response, e.g. How
do you do? / It's a pleasure to meet you.
||Students identify or sort the language with the appropriate
situation. This can be done with phrases and headings/functions on
cut-up strips or in boxes, e.g. How was your flight? What do you
think of our weather? / small talk
||Make full use of varied role-play activities. Assign
roles based upon the students' actual business situation.
|| Utilize the many videos available for Business English.
These create an excellent forum for discussion and practice.
|| From audio excerpts, have the students act out roles
based on the tapescripts. Students do peer observation and give comments.
||Emphasize the cultural aspect of socializing. Remind
students that English carries its own style of communication (thus
doing business) which is no better or worse than the students' own
native language. Discuss and compare the different situations of socializing
students have noticed in different cultures as opposed to their own
culture. Ask students to make a list of what is accepted and what
More in this issue
You'll find the following related material in this issue:
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