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Top Tips for Business English
Teaching socializing skills
Basics socializing
Activities  Teacher's notes

Top Tips for Business English
Teaching socializing skills
by Rosemary Richey

Language level
Language and skill components
   A Basic socializing
   B General language points
Teaching ideas and resources
More in this issue


This final article in the series on teaching essential Business English skills deals with socializing. Good socializing skills form the basis for any successful business interaction be it in the context of a presentation, meeting, or negotiation.


Language level

The language and skills featured here are appropriate for upper intermediate and advanced levels.



1 Review with your students the various situations in which people socialize in a business context. Assign pairs one situation each from the list below and ask them to brainstorm and come up with a couple of example phrases. If necessary, write an example on the board, e.g. Welcoming: It's a pleasure to welcome you at ...
  greeting people
  small talk
  getting to know each other
  typical everyday contact
  making arrangements
  having drinks
  holding discussions
  saying good-bye
2 Get students to share their phrases with the whole class. Start a discussion about how the use of each phase can impact business either positively or negatively.


Language and skill components

Successful socializing depends on the appropriate language and skills. The following list contains key functions and useful language for basic socializing in a business context.

A Basic socializing

function language
welcoming Welcome to ...
We're pleased to welcome you (all) to ...
It's a pleasure to welcome you (all) to ...
greeting people How do you do? (formal)
How are you
/you doing? (informal)
(So/Very) Nice/Good to meet you.
It's a pleasure
(to meet you).
introductions My name's ... I'm (position/job)
I'd like to introduce myself ...
Let me introduce myself ...
We haven't met yet. I'm ...
I'd like to introduce you to ...
Have you met ...?
small talk How was your flight/trip?
How's the hotel?
Did you have any problems
/trouble finding us?
How's the weather in ...?
What do you think of our weather?
Could I take your coat
Would you care for something to drink?
How do you take your coffee
getting to know each other How long have you been working for ...?
How did you get into this line of business?
How do you like living in ...?
What's your home town?
What do you do in your spare time?
typical everyday contacts How are you today?
How are things?
(going) fine, thanks.
Nice to see you again.
I was wondering if ...
Would you mind if ...
Could I ask a favour of you?/Could you do me a favour?
making arrangements We'd like to invite you to ...
Could we arrange a meeting
/dinner for ... ?
Would you be interested in ...?
Would you like to attend
/come to ...?
/How about..?
Would ... suit you
/be convenient?
Shall we say
(about) 7.00pm?
That sounds fine
Let me just confirm that ...
I look forward to seeing you then.
having drinks I'd like to get the next round of drinks.
Could I propose a toast to ...?
Here's to ...
The drinks are on me.
I'm treating you.
I'll pick up the tab.
holding conversations I wanted to ask you about ...
I was wondering if ...
While we're on the subject ...
I'd like to mention ...
By the way ...
That reminds me ...
Do you see what I mean
/I'm getting at?
So are you saying ...?
saying good-bye I'm afraid I really must be on my way.
I really do need to wrap this up now.
Thanks so
/Thank you very much for ...
It was nice
/a pleasure to meet/see you.
I look forward to ...
Please get in touch soon.
I'll give you a call
/email you.
Bye. Take care.
Have a good flight
Safe journey back!


B General language points

1 Polite forms, with could, would and may, permeate the language used for socializing.

2 Particular polite phrases such as I was wondering if I could borrow your pen or Would you mind if I borrowed your pen review the second conditional form.

3 Let me ... is a common way of asking permission to assist or to do something for someone.

4 Socializing contexts provide practice for use of the present simple vs present continuous, e.g. I work for ... Right now I'm working on ... , and the past simple and present perfect, e.g. I lived and worked in London for 3 years. I've lived in Dublin since I started my new job in 2001.


Teaching ideas and resources

Socializing is a complex skill to develop. Students need to build their confidence in a variety of contexts where making a good impression on a client or customer is of paramount importance. To practice essential language for socializing, try out these activities:
Create cards or strips with questions and answers on them. Students match the question to the right response, e.g. How do you do? / It's a pleasure to meet you.
Students identify or sort the language with the appropriate situation. This can be done with phrases and headings/functions on cut-up strips or in boxes, e.g. How was your flight? What do you think of our weather? / small talk
Make full use of varied role-play activities. Assign roles based upon the students' actual business situation.
Utilize the many videos available for Business English. These create an excellent forum for discussion and practice.
From audio excerpts, have the students act out roles based on the tapescripts. Students do peer observation and give comments.
Emphasize the cultural aspect of socializing. Remind students that English carries its own style of communication (thus doing business) which is no better or worse than the students' own native language. Discuss and compare the different situations of socializing students have noticed in different cultures as opposed to their own culture. Ask students to make a list of what is accepted and what is taboo.


More in this issue

You'll find the following related material in this issue:
Activities for practising vocabulary related to socializing
Teacher's notes and answer key for the activities