Business English Lesson Plan: Changes

Level: Upper-intermediate – Advanced

  1. Warm-up: 

Answer the questions below:

  • Do you think change is an important part of business life? Why / why not?
  • Is the business you are in constantly changing? If so, what does this mean to you personally?
  • Comment on the quote: “People are very open-minded about new things, as long as they are exactly like the old ones.” – Charles F.Kettering, an American inventor, engineer, businessman, and the holder of 186 patents.

2. New vocabulary:

Exercise 1. Match the words / expressions with their definitions:

Word / expression Definition
1.     To amend A.    to discontinue or withdraw gradually
2.     To fluctuate B.    toward a higher place / point / level
3.     To phase out C.     making a company / organization smaller by eliminating staff positions
4.     To streamline D.    to make minor changes (to a text, piece of legislation, etc.) in order to make it fairer or more accurate, or to reflect changing circumstances
5.    Deterioration E.     the process of becoming worse
6.     Expansion F.     making a rule / policy / system stricter
7.     Upward G.    the action of becoming larger
8.     Downsizing H.    to make an organization / process more efficient by removing unnecessary parts of it
9.     Tightening up I.      to rise and fall irregularly in number or amount

Exercise 2. Complete the second sentence in each pair with a word or expression from the box so that its meaning is similar to the first sentence. You do not need to change the form of any of the words / expressions:

amended     deterioration     downsizing     expansion     fluctuated     phased out     streamline     tightening up     upward

  1. Because our company is bigger now than it was years ago, we need to recruit more employees. Because of company ______ over the last two years, we need more workers.
  2. It is now much harder to import goods into the country than it was a few years ago. There has been a ______ of border controls for imports.
  3. Over the next few years, some management positions in the company will be gradually removed. Some management positions will be  _____ over the next few years.
  4. Public services (e.g. health care, transport) are less reliable now than they were a few years ago. There has been a ______ in public services reliability over the last five years.
  5. Compared with five years ago, more people are shopping at out-of-town retail parks (shopping developments situated outside a town or city, typically containing a number of large chain stores) than in town center shops. There has been an _____ trend in the number of people shopping in out-of-town retail parks.
  6. We are trying to make the accounting system simpler and more efficient. We are trying to _____ the accounting system.
  7. Making the company smaller by making a lot of staff members redundant has made it much more profitable than it was before. _____ the company has made it much more profitable than it was before.
  8. Property prices have gone up, then gone down, then gone up again twice this year. Property prices have _____ twice this year.
  9. We have made small changes to the rules for applying for instant credit. We have _____ the rules for applying for instant credit.

3. Discussion:

  • Have there been any great legislative amendments in your country recently? If so, how do you feel about the amendments?
  • How is your country’s currency fluctuating these days? Is the currency strong or weak?
  • What are advantages and disadvantages of downsizing a company?
  • Are you streamlining anything at the moment?
  • Has there been an upward trend in the number of your company’s clients recently?
  • Are public services in your country deteriorating or improving? Give at least 1 example.
  • Think of your company. Have any positions been phased out recently? If so, why?
  • Should any rules of your company be tightened up for higher efficiency and productivity?
  • Has your company’s business expanded recently? Is business expansion always a good thing?

Do you agree with the statements? To what extent? Give your reasons:

  • “There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse!” – Washington Irving, an American writer and diplomat
  • “Our ability to adapt is amazing. Our ability to change isn’t quite as spectacular.” – Liza Lutz, an American writer
  • “All great changes are preceded by chaos.” – Deepak Chorpa, an American writer and public speaker
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Is life constantly changing?

Answer key:

Exercise 1: 1d, 2i, 3a, 4h, 5e, 6g, 7b, 8c, 9f

Exercise 2: 1. expansion 2. tightening up 3. phased out 4. deterioration 5. upward 6. streamline 7. downsizing 8. fluctuated 9. amended