free resources and more…

Business English Conversation Lessons: Using Idioms

In this conversation lesson, students practice using business idioms in a small-group discussion. Do the warm-up with students and then have them do the conversation questions.


Put students in small groups. Ask them to share stories about times they did not understand someone due to a lack of idiomatic knowledge. Give a few examples to get them started, and then give them time to talk with their group. 


Conversation Questions

Put students in small groups and have them discuss the questions below. Review the italicized idioms with them. For definitions and examples please see the most common business idioms and expression.

1. Have you ever gotten off on the wrong foot with someone? What happened? Were you able to eventually have a good relationship with the person? Tell your group about it.

2. Tell your group about a time you had to play hardball with someone. What happened? Tell your group about a time someone played hardball with you. What happened?

3. Do a lot of business transactions occur under the table in your country? Have you ever worked under the table? Do you think  it’s wrong to pay employees under the table? When is it okay?

4. What are some things people do to get their foot in the door at a company?

5. Tell your group about a tough break you’ve had.

6. What is something that you’ve done so much that it’s second nature to you? Is speaking English second nature to you?

7. Do you usually stand your ground in an argument or do you normally give in? Explain.

8. Tell your group about a time you had to talk someone into something.

9. Tell your group about a time you had to talk someone out of something.

10. Tell your group about a time you had to throw in the towel because you weren’t able to do something.

11. Can you think of any interesting business ideas that involved thinking outside the box? Tell your group about them.

12. In a nutshell, what is your role with your company?

13. Have you ever gone the extra mile for your employer? What did you do? Tell your group about it.

Also see these business English conversation lessons.