Business English no-plan TEFL lesson plan

Normally, I plan all my lessons that I teach.

I always try to review the students’ language output (corrections, pronunciation and ‘good stuff’) from the previous lesson at the start of a class, through the use of my ‘language review table’ (an article to come on this topic next week). Then proceed into a lesson that attempts to inspire and motivate studetns based on my knowledge of their interests and working practises, balanced with content that is judiciously selected from current affairs or the business pages of online newspapers that somehow caught my eye for their English language usage.

However, no-one is perfect!

Sometimes, you find yourself in the situation where time got ahead of you and the plan did not materialise. On occassion, you are called in to do a substitute lesson for a colleague that is off sick.

This happened to me last week, and rather than do some last minute panic desperate scour through an uninspiring textbook for a page that the student (the lesson was an Advanced Business English 1-2-1) may have already studied  anyway, I took a deep breath and faced the lesson without a plan.

After an intial warmer activity, this was my bold move…



How would you describe this last week at work in 3 adjectives?

(It was a Friday, which worked to my advantage)

The student said: crazy, difficult & long


Now, I imagine that most people might describe their working week as difficult and long, but thankfully, ‘crazy’ gave me something to work with.

My next question: That sounds very interesting. What were the circumstances that made it a crazy week?

Then followed a super interesting description of the final part of the selection process of a top executive in this student’s company.

The key to making the lesson progress is to ask for details at certain points, not to interrupt, but to let the student flow with their language and be ready with an intelligent question to spark further conversation/output.

For example, the student described how the final selection was between a man and a woman. This prompted questions from me (trying to use advanced, appropriate and natural English that may be new for the student) at various stages such as…

  • How many candidates applied for the job in the first place?
  • In your company, who handled the initial applicants to wittle them down to a manageable selection?
  • Why were some of the initial candidates turned down?
  • You said that 6 people had to give a presentation to a selection board in the 3rd round. What were the factors that caused 4 candidates to be eliminated after their presentation?
  • Did the final stage of the selection process involve psychometric testing?
  • Has a candidate ever been declined employment based on their pscyhometric test results?
  • Would it be advantageous to select the female candidate from the final 2, in order to fill a diversity quota in your company?
  • Why did the selection board plump for the female candidate in the end? What was it that made her win over the board of directors?



There was a lot of high-level language being used, some errors, some occassional slips, pronunciation issues, all of which I was noting down throughout in my language review table to go through with the student in the final 10 minutes of the lesson.

It was a great class, and the student remarked on that at the end. However, it has to be said that the ‘greatness’ was down to the fact that the student spoke for 90% of the lesson time.

So, this ‘no-plan’ lesson was lucky, I would say.

It happened at the end of an unusual week for this particular student that he wanted to talk about at length and get things off his chest.Circumstances are not always going to be as fortuitous as this.

However, I used my EFL teacher training knowledge and years of classroom experience to allow high student output with common-sense error correction alongside considered questions.

But, I would always advise on having a lesson planned out in advance to fall back on, but it might pay to be adventurous once in a while with such an approach as that outlined above… as long as you have a plan B, in case it all goes pear-shaped!  🙂



Bren Brennan

About Bren Brennan

Bren initially trained here at SGI and then joined the staff in 2005. Since 2006, he has taught abroad in Budapest, Berlin and now at Mondragon University in Spain. He returns to teach at SGI London every summer and completed the SGI Trinity DipTESOL in 2011. He also regularly writes posts for students here.
This entry was posted in Business English, Lesson Ideas, Lesson Plans and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.