Teaching Business Learners to Socialize – Networking

For now, this will be our final blog for the business socializing series. Today, we’ll share a lesson designed to target business English for networking in social settings. This will help them build more confidence toward using English to make business contacts, expand their areas of influence, or develop new markets. At the same time, your class members will learn specific language points to help them in similar situations. As we’ve been doing in previous editions, we’ll be using a dialogue to aid in language acquisition. So, instead of simply teaching a lesson, you’ll be preparing them for situations outside the classroom. Read on to check out the pattern and how you can individualize it or tailor it to suit your learners’ needs.

General Dialogue

As mentioned in previous blogs, a general dialogue gets the ball rolling. It serves at least a few purposes. One benefit is that it gives them an example of how people in similar situations may speak. Another benefit of using general dialogues is to warm learners up. It can then be used to scaffold toward personalized dialogues in the latter part of the lesson. For networking, I like to use a dialogue like the one below.

A B
Hi, I’m Tom, from Apix Photography. Hi Tom, I’m Carl with Brandex Software. Nice to meet you. [1]
Oh, where are you based? [2] I’m in Prague. And you?
I’m out of Houston. [3] … So, what do you do at Brandex? Well, I’m in the marketing department. I work with entrepreneurs that are looking to establish their imaging software in the market. … How about you? [4]
I’m in advertising. … It sounds like we have a little something in common. [5] Yes, it does actually: I have entrepreneurs with imaging software, and you work in a company that might be interested in some innovation.
Here’s my card. Maybe after the event we can arrange a meeting? Yes, thank you. Here’s my contact information as well. I look forward to talking more about some kind of synergy. [6]

Analysis of the General Dialogue

1. Here, you can show class members the more strategic location for a, “nice to meet you,”—after you’ve actually met the person. English language students tend to want to use this phrase before exchanging names with someone they’ve just met.

2. Another way of asking where a person is from.

3. Another way of saying where you’re from.

4. Here is where you can teach class members how to keep conversations going.

5. Here, you can teach class members a little about what “in common” means, and its relevance. You can even have a short activity getting them to think of three things they have in common with each other (group class). Or, if a private class, you can get them to think of three things they have in common with one of their existing contacts. Later, this information can be used in the ‘No Dialogue’ activity.

6. To give your classes a little more of a challenge, try asking them how they might continue this dialogue. You can challenge them with parameters by asking them to finish it in four more exchanges. This would make the dialogue a total of ten lines. In time, you’ll become more confident using this type of lesson format. And you’ll start to see more patterns that you can work with when using general business socializing dialogues.

Modified Dialogue

After going through the general dialogue a couple of times, make some modifications to it. One way you can do that is to remove certain elements. Then, have the class members insert their own ideas. I indicate that with blanks spaces like the ones below.

A B
Hi, I’m ___, from ___. Hi Tom, I’m ___ with ____. Nice to meet you.
Oh, where are you based? I’m in ___. And you?
I’m out of ____. … So, what do you do at ____? Well, I’m ____. I ____. … How about you?
I ____. … It sounds like we have a little something in common. Yes, it does actually: ____.
Here’s my card. Maybe after the event we can arrange a meeting? Yes, thank you. Here’s my contact information as well. I look forward to talking more about some kind of synergy.

If the dialogue was extended from the activity in the general dialogue section, just follow the same concept with the additional lines. Try this a couple of times. Give students opportunities to try it from both perspectives. It will help them develop prediction ideas for real conversations depending on which end they might be working from.

No Dialogue

Once students feel more comfortable with the modified dialogue, you can now branch into the independent dialogue. This gives learners chances to follow the basic pattern of the previous dialogues (i.e. general and modified), but also opportunities to make it real for themselves. By using a basic pattern, they have something to build on. By giving them opportunities to make it real for themselves, they’re preparing to use the language outside the classroom.

Feedback

Feedback is an essential element of any lesson. As mentioned in a previous blog, without feedback the lesson is incomplete in my opinion. Feedback gives students something to improve their skills. Instead of just letting them talk and follow the dialogues, you’re helping to sharpen their understanding. Feedback for this lesson could be anything from pronunciation, to grammar, to word choices, and or expression. Think of feedback as a pencil sharpener giving a finer tip to the pencil. Students who have more refinement will have more mastery of the language in various settings. So instead of being set in one way of speaking, they have finer options.

Conclusion

As you’ve likely been able to see from the past three blogs on this topic, there is a pattern you can use with business lessons. Using this pattern, you can put together productive lessons to help business learners. These lessons include opportunities to teach vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation combined with fluency building exercises (dialogues). If you follow this format, you’ll be able to put together business lessons in a short time, but also be able to tailor those lessons to meet customer needs. We’d enjoy hearing your thoughts about these business socializing lesson ideas. Or feel free to share your experiences using them here. And remember, for professional TESOL training, enroll in one of our TESOL certificate programs.


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