How to Practice Negotiation Skills in ESL Lesson

How to Practice Negotiation Skills in ESL Lesson

In the contemporary business world, one should have a number of important skills to guarantee success. Being a good negotiator is a vital skill for any business person. Through effective negotiations, one can clinch lucrative deals and boost business activities. Therefore, teaching the language of negotiations is of utmost importance for those Business English students who need it in real life. In this article, we have gathered some nice ideas on how to deliver interesting classes on negotiation language. 

Language of Negotiation

Students may be quite familiar with the main negotiation techniques and strategies to succeed. However, in most of the cases, they lack appropriate and topic-based vocabulary or functional language to communicate their message. Because of this gap, they may fail to get the desired result. Learners must have general knowledge of the main vocabulary used in negotiations. Here is a list of useful vocabulary that the a teacher can touch upon before passing to negotiations  negotiation role-plays. 

Learners must have a general knowledge of the main vocabulary used in negotiations talking about negotiations. Here is a list of useful vocabulary that a teacher can touch upon before passing to negotiation role-plays. 

Apart from these words, there are useful functional language expressions which will be of great help for students. Here are some stages present in any negotiation with the useful language used

Beginning and ending negotiations

Listening and asking for proposals 

Making suggestions and proposals

Grounding the views presented

Agreeing/diagreeing with proposals




The language can be taught/revised through: 

  • poster presentations (students match the stages with the language or vice versa)
  • the language can be written out from negotiation podcasts or youtube videos (the class is divided into 2-3 groups, they watch or listen to the target material, and write out as many words or phrases as they think are relevant to the topic. After this stage, they compare their options with peer groups. The teacher gives open-class feedback by highlighting the most common expressions used in negotiations)
  • the teacher may read out the list of useful expressions referring to this or that negotiation category, pair or group who names the category the first wins a point. The game is continued until all the functional language is recycled.
  • the teacher collects around 15 to 20 important negotiation phrases which have optional words in the middle (“This point is absolutely crucial ”, “According to our previous agreement”). The teacher cuts out the phrases into three parts: right-hand part, middle part and left-hand part.He/she hands the left-hand and right-hand part cards and asks the students to pair up the appropriate phrases together. After they have matched the right-hand and left-hand halves, the teacher gives them middle-part cards and askes to put them into the basic expressions they have paired up previously.

    Negotiation Roleplays

While practising a skill, students are always impatient to put the learned expressions into practice. The following activities can be applied:

  • Students are given some roleplay scenarios and are asked to use as many expressions as possible. Their pairs write all the expressions that partners have used. The student with more used expressions will be the winner. 
  • While roleplaying each student can be given one specific negotiation task (ask questions, ask for clarifications, reasoning, etc ) and be asked to use as many negotiation phrases on that function as possible. 
  • Students are divided into pairs or small groups. They are given the role-play situations and are strictly timed. The group who manages to finish the negotiation in the mentioned time, cover all the points and clinch a deal will be the winner.
  • Groups think of their own negotiation scenarios, swap with the other groups and roleplay them. 
  • As a fun alternative to roleplays, students can have a long negotiation chain. They take turns making conditional offers to try to make a huge and complicated chain of proposals such as “if you accept this price we will offer you 60 days to pay” being followed by “if you offer us 60 days to pay, we will double our order”, etc. 

Please check this for negotiation role-plays. 

No matter which of the tips you will select for your lesson, students will have an effective and exciting language experience. 

Have great lessons! 

Лиза Мардоян

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