Teaching business vocabulary | Статья в журнале «Молодой ученый»


Рубрика: Педагогика

Опубликовано в Молодой учёный №12 (23) декабрь 2010 г.

Статья просмотрена: 68 раз

Библиографическое описание:

Родина Е. Ю. Teaching business vocabulary // Молодой ученый. — 2010. — №12. Т.2. — С. 123-126. — URL https://moluch.ru/archive/23/2416/ (дата обращения: 25.05.2018).

The use of English as the language for business is increasingly widespread. Every day millions of people all over the world use English in their business activities. Business is concerned with buying and selling. It uses the language of commerce, finance, and industry. It is about design and innovation, traditions and values. It is associated with cooperation and negotiation. It deals with problems and their solutions. In short, Business English is communication with other people within a specific context.

Specialist vocabulary is usually considered to be responsibility of the subject teachers: the words are closely connected with learning the subject and may present conceptual difficulties. However, considering that the large numbers occur in specialized texts, language teachers need to prepare learners to deal with them.

It is known that business people do a variety of things with language; they socialize, analyze; make predictions and have negotiations; they sell and buy; persuade, compromise, make telephone calls and do market research; they also produce, train, travel, plan, advertise, explain…the list is endless. Business English users need to know special vocabulary that includes lexical words, function words, multi-word units, sentence headers, phrasal verbs, collocations, and idioms.

Students nowadays express a need to expand their business vocabulary. Specific difficulties in vocabulary learning referred to the following points: using a word correctly, lack of vocabulary; and confusion between similar sounding \ looking words.

For a student to know a word, it may mean the ability to recognize it in spoken or written form; use it in the appropriate grammatical form; pronounce and spell it correctly; use it in correct collocations.

Thus, the two most important questions while teaching any vocabulary are: Which vocabulary should be taught, and how should it be taught?

As to the first question is concerned, the language studied depends on students needs. This often means high technical content and use of common business terms.

As to the second question, the main concerns of vocabulary teaching can be summarized in the following way: collocation; word formation; context; words often confused; social English; idioms.

In other words, students should be able to differentiate word form (by understanding word formation rules); recognize the meaning of the word (working with the context); use the words correctly (using collocations); make their speech more interesting and less formal (by means of idioms and social English). Some of these points are considered in the article and examples of possible exercises are given.

We know that some pairs of words often go together. If you meet one, you can expect the other. Such kind of association is called collocation. Two words are collocated if they occur together with more than chance frequency. Collocation is not as frozen a relationship as that of compounds or multi-word units, the may be separated by one or more other words. To use the language naturally, students should learn to recognize and memorize word partnerships. 

The following exercises can be helpful.

1. Match the words from the two columns to form common partnerships.

a)   Adjective                  Noun

1. skilled

a) communication

2. free

b) insurance

3. effective

c) membership

4. private

d) workers

b)    Verb                           Noun

1. welcome

a) skills

2. allocate

b) demands

3. develop

c) tasks

4. meet

d) visitors

c)       Noun                        Noun

1. application

a) scale

2. profit

b) form

3. feasibility

c) share

4. salary

d) study


2. Complete the sentences using a suitable expression from above tables.

1.      It is the manager’s task to _____ _____ among employees.

2.      The company pays for the staff to go on training courses to _____ professional _____ .

3.      In big companies employees get _____ _____ of the local gym.

4.      The new modified model _____s all the _____.

5.      Among other benefits, the company provides its employees with ____ health ___.

Doing reading exercises, students can find and study longer expressions from the text. In this case, the exercises can be more difficult:

3. Match the following words and phrases to make complete expressions

1. to demand



2. to regulate


in advance

3. to damage



4. to insist on

business to business



Students then give their explanations, associations and examples using these expressions. In such a way, they learn to analyze vocabulary and use the words correctly.  Learners can make many useful business phrases with the verbs make and do. However, they should remember which one to use! The following exercise can help them:

4. Match the words with the two verbs.









an effort

an appointment

a feasibility study

Learning partnerships is much more useful than learning single words. Teaching business English is teaching the word partnerships of business. The more word partnerships students know, the more fluent their speech will be. Therefore, students should practice collocations regularly.

Many language specialists suggest that the mind groups different forms of the same word together. Therefore, it is necessary to teach students the principles of word formation. Affixation, for example, is one of the ways new words are formed. The following exercises can be possible.

1. a) Match the following prefixes with their meaning.



1. pre-

a) in favor of

2. ex-

b) former

3. pro-

c) before

b) Which of the prefixes above precede the following words?

government     industrial      Europe     war

 2. a) Complete the table using appropriate suffixes. 




1. manage



2. occupy



3. operate



4. vary



5. produce



b) Complete the sentence with the correct form of the word from the table above.

1.      The new model should be in _____ in three months.

2.      The finished _____ must leave the factory in perfect condition.

3.      Our company produces a great _____ of toys.

4.      They put forward _____ suggestions to increase the sales.

5.      To increase _____, our engineers introduced a new system.

3. Change the words in brackets to make another word:

1.      The (work) conditions are very good here.

2.      Satisfaction is the greatest (motivate).

3.      Job creation schemes actually do very little to help the (employ).

 Another way of making new words is compounding when two words are used together to make a common expression: credit card; income tax; paperback; brandstretching; shopfloor; application form; feasibility study – these words are commonly used in the textbooks, so it is important to remember and practice them. Besides, two words can be blended to form one new one (info+entertainment = infotainment; globalization + localization = glocalization). New words can also be created by shortening longer words: email, dorm, rep, ad. Teacher’s task is to learn students to recognize these words in the text and use them in a proper way. Some authors focus on this vocabulary and provide special exercises (D.Cotton, D. Falvey, S. Kent, Market Leader). In other cases, it is the teacher’s task to draw students’ attention to these words. There are also some useful compound adjectives: duty-free, remote-controlled, time-consuming, cut-price. These expressions are quite common, so students should recognize them easily and use in their speech. However, teacher should motivate them to find new and interesting compounds while analyzing new texts. For example, studying the problem of working from home (“Telecommuting”, Business Matters, M. Powell), students can find in the text new interesting compounds: inner-directed worker; sustenance-driven worker; fast-changing marketplace; far-reaching consequences). They can practice the expressions in the exercises and in their own examples. Thus, to differentiate the word forms, understand the meaning of the word, develop the language sense, students should learn the principles of word formation and use them in practice.

Teaching the vocabulary, we normally start by one of two things: we either give the students the word, and ask the meaning; or we explain the meaning or concept, and ask the word. Teachers decide which words should be encouraged to guess from the context. In addition, teachers could help students guess by asking questions directing them to the correct meaning. Defining can be of different types: synonyms, antonyms, different types of definitions. To help students learn from the definitions, teachers should provide clear, simple, brief explanations of meanings; draw attention to the general meaning of a word; give repeated attention to the words;

avoid interference from related words. Working with definitions, teachers should first encourage students to give their own definitions or explanations. In case of difficulty, various types of matching exercises can help, for example:

1. Match the words from the two columns to find definitions.

1. ability

a) any productive activity that results in something useful

2. career

b) a skill that has already been developed

3. job

c) the work person does over a period of years

4. work

d) the collection of tasks or duties that a person does to earn a living


            Synonyms are words that share a similar meaning. Synonyms are similar, but seldom the same. Even between words that seem interchangeable, one will be preferred over the other in certain contexts and by particular speakers. Words with opposite meanings are called antonyms. Again, like synonyms, the relation between such opposites is not always black and white. Nevertheless, like synonyms, antonyms have a useful defining function and are therefore a convenient teaching resource. Students can often build up their vocabulary working with synonyms and opposites. The following exercises can be possible:

1. a) Match the opposites from the two columns:

1. internal

a) complex

2. simple

b) temporary

3. exact

c) external

4. permanent

d) approximate


1. strengthen

a) simplify

2. fail

b) lower

3. complicate

c) weaken

4. raise

d) succeed


2. Complete the sentences with the words from the table.

1.      When he was studying, he had a _______ job as a car mechanic.

2.      The manager wanted to get a clear idea of the problem and asked the _____  sales figures.

3.      It is not easy to understand this ______ management structure.

4.      The cooperation between our companies has steadily _____ed, and launching a new product is the result of it.

Sometimes, it makes sense to organize words related in meaning in families. First, you can ask students how many words they can write down about a certain subject. After they have made the list, they can add any new words they meet. Grouping together words with the same topic can help learners not only to remember them, but also to sell a product. In some areas, such as advertising, the right choice of words is essential. It is necessary to use specific language to communicate in a specific context. Using various types of diagrams and word maps can be very useful:                                         planning                 directing

                                                    \                     /                               


                                                     /         |            \

                                controlling     organizing   evaluating

Teachers should pay special attention to the words that are often confused. If students use a word in the wrong way, they should learn from their mistake. They should find out what the correct word or expression should be and use both the correct and incorrect words in sentences so that they can understand and remember the differences. The following exercises can help:

1. Choose the correct word in the sentences.

1.      She works for an advertising \ advertisement agency.

2.      My bank manager agreed to borrow \ lend me another 2,000$.

3.      I studied economy \ economics at the university.

4.      There is some more paper in the stationary \ stationery cupboard.

5.      We had to cancel \ postpone the meeting until next Monday.

2. Study the following explanations and choose the right word.

advice – recommendation regarding a course of conduct; advise – to counsel

1.      What do you advice \ advise me to do about this overdue contract?

2.      Mr. Green’s advice \ advise will help your career.

affect – to influence; effect – to bring about; a result

1.      How will the new procedures affect \ effect our budget?

2.      We expect this new system to affect \ effect an upturn in our business.

precede – to go before; proceed – to advance

1.      After the meeting in Moscow, we will precede \ proceed to the conference in London.

2.      My name should precede \ proceed Mr. Brown in the list.

In business, there are times when you need to speak English socially, for example, when you go out for a meal with your English-speaking partner, client or colleague. It is important to know expressions used in informal situations. Different types of exercises can be used – matching situations, pictures to the most suitable expressions. The example is:

1. Match the sentences from the left column to the response from the right:

1. How was the conference?

a) Smart move!

2. I decided to look around for a better job.

b) Shall we say about eleven thirty, then?

3. Thursday morning would suit me fine.

c) I might have. I’ll look it in my diary.

4. Have you got his phone number?

d) Not bad. I made some useful contacts.

Many specialists in business like to use idiomatic expressions to make what they say more interesting. As some of these expressions occur regularly, it is important to understand, remember and use them. The following exercises are useful and exciting to students.

1. Choose the right variant.

  1. He's the perfect person to take on this difficult job. He's a really hard-______ person and won't stand for any nonsense.

a) deal     b) nosed      c) bargain

  1. We have to work hard for our money while the fat ______ in the City make money

doing very little.

a) cats      b) shots      c) fish

  1. She's obviously going to get a top job soon. She's a real high ______ .

                          a) cats      b) shots      c) flier

  1. John doesn't look very impressive but he's one of the big ______ in this industry.

              a) cats      b) shots      c) flier

To sum up, teaching business vocabulary requires special attention and time. How could we achieve the result? First, students should learn and remember the word partnerships. Second, they should practice them. Putting words to use is the best way of ensuring they are added to memory. Finally, it is necessary to generate vocabulary including new aspects of knowledge to what is already known; creating contexts, collocations, keywords. 



  1. S. Thornbury, How to teach Vocabulary, Pearson Education Limited 2002
  2. Flower, J. Build Your Business Vocabulary. Thomson Learning Inc., 2000
  3. E. Frendo, How to Teach Business English, Longman, 2005
  4. M.Powell, Business Matters, LTP, 1999
  5. C. Johnson, M.Ellis, Teaching Business English, Oxford University Press, 2003
Основные термины (генерируются автоматически): LTP.


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