Business English- Discussing Business Problems with Conditionals


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Lesson Plan Content:

Business English- Discussing Business Problems with First, Second and Third

Work in groups of two to four students. You all work for the same company. Choose an

issue that your company has such as one of the situations below and discuss it. Say what

you should have done in the past, dismiss impossible or unlikely solutions (e.g. because

they don’t match the real situation), and then try to come up with solutions which are more

likely to be successful. Use the same three steps in that order in each discussion, with

these three different conditional forms for each part of that discussion:

Mistakes/ regrets – Third Conditional (e.g. “If we had launched a bid for those

companies first, we would have grown bigger”)

Unlikely or impossible solutions – Second Conditional (e.g. “If CDs became more

popular again, we would be okay – but that’s not going to happen”)

Realistic ideas with positive consequences – First Conditional (e.g. “If we hire a SEO

expert, they will probably be able to sort it out”)

With most of the situations, you will need to imagine you that you work for different kinds

of companies to your real ones, e.g. a music shop, and to use your imaginations when

talking about past mistakes, market conditions, etc.

Possible problem situations to discuss

Fewer and fewer people are buying CDs in your music shops

The other insurance companies have grown larger than yours by taking over smaller


Your bank has many bad debts

The market for your toys has shrunk because of the falling birth rate in your home market

Consumers have an image of your TVs as being expensive

Written by Alex Case for © 2015

Your website’s Google ranking has been slipping

You sell mid-range mobile phones, which is a rapidly shrinking sector

The staff in one of your factories in China have kidnapped the manager from your


Your global supply chain has been disrupted by a natural disaster in Thailand

Hackers have broken into your IT system and stolen customer and staff data

Your CEO has quit to join a competitor

Annual staff turnover of graduate recruits has been 30% this year

Why are the three conditional for used for the parts of the discussion above that they are

used for? What are the differences between the three different conditional forms?

Written by Alex Case for © 2015

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