Business English homework

Something for your coffee break : )

I teach business English online and every week I send my learners an email. The subject line reads: something for your coffee break : ).
In this email, I send links to articles my BE students can read, short videos they can watch and quick listening tasks. I also send them links to websites with quick grammar or vocabulary building exercises (self-access links). I always choose tasks they can do quickly and articles they would be interested in. The links I send are varied and not always business English focused. I do this because they are already at work so maybe during their break they may want to read something non work-related. If my learners do the extra practice, we talk about it during our next session. If they don’t, it is OK. I avoid using the word homework in these mails because I do not want them to feel they have to do it and anyway, it is not homework… it is coffee break work : ). If something I have found, is something I really want to do with them, then I do it during the next lesson.
Why do I choose this type of work/extra practice? Well, my learners are adults who are almost always busy, and asking them to do loads of homework doesn’t really work (well, it hasn’t worked for me anyhow). That’s why I choose tasks that do not take more than 10 minutes to do. You may now ask, “Is that enough?” “No, it isn’t, but it is better than nothing.”
I send this email almost every week and my BE learners have given me positive feedback which is why I still send the coffee break practice email.

Where do I look for material?
Of course, there are loads of places. I am going to mention my go to places in this part of the post. Keep in mind that everything I mention is sent to them in an email, so they are links to websites.

  • Twitter/ Facebook

Type  #BusinessEnglish on Twitter and there you will find loads of ideas from other BE teachers. If you are not in any Business English Groups on Facebook, then I would suggested joining some because teachers are always sharing something there as well! So, some of the links I send to my students come from blog posts, websites other BE trainers use.

  • BBC capital

There are lots of articles to choose from. I also like the fact that there are articles that are accompanied by videos, so they can read and then watch something and that is great practice!

  • British council-Learn English

I go to two places 6 minute English (this has been archived and does not get updated any more but it is great for some quick listening tasks) and Business Magazine where you can find short articles followed by a quick reading comprehension task.

  • YouTube
You can find a lot of videos in the 6 -10 minute range and just send the learners the link to the video.
  • Grammar and vocabulary websites

Once again, there is a plethora of websites with free access to grammar and vocabulary exercises. I often send links from Grammar bank .This site is free and your students can do quick exercises online and see the answers straight away.

Final thoughts
If you are interested in BE English lesson material suggestions, have a look here. I hope you enjoyed this post. If you are in France in November (14-16), come to the TESOL France conference! My talk will be about teaching online (Business English).

Till next time…..


6 thoughts on “Business English homework

  1. Hi Joanna,
    I used to do something like this with one of my BE classes. It was a B2 class, or at least they were doing a B2 course book. It was pretty challenging for some of them, and the hardest part were the reading texts. These actually were more like B2+/C1 articles, I felt, and going through them in class – no matter how much pre-reading work we did – was always exhausting. We decided they needed to read more, outside of class, and they started borrowing readers, but those turned out to be too easy (even at B2) when compared with the course book texts. So then I started sending them links to articles online – we agreed they'd read at least one a week for the rest of the semester, I think. It was pretty challenging to find articles that weren't too long as that could be off-putting right from the start, and at the same time long enough to make the students feel like reading them had made at least a small difference. I seem to remember I used and news items on Yahoo Canada – for some reason these were often of the right length and complexity. 🙂
    Good luck in France!


  2. Hello,

    Inspired by your post Joanna and your comment venvve I have made a ranking of different sources for business English articles. I included the three ones you two mentioned here (BBC Capital, Yahoo News & Forbes) plus 17 more. BBC Capital and Yahoo News are in the top if we rank them from easier to harder while Forbes is in the bottom half.

    Check out the whole list here

    Hope you will find it useful. I can add more sources if requested.

    All the best,


    • Hi Kirsty,
      Thanks for stopping by. I am in a few Facebook groups: Business English Teachers
      Tesol Greece EAP/ESP group and other groups that are for online teaching. There are also lots of LinkedIn groups you can join. I think the more groups you join, the more you learn about what’s going on in BE and ELT in general. I hope my suggestions help. Joanna 🙂


      • Hi Kirsty,
        Thanks for commenting 🙂
        The funny thing about blogging is that I see blog view numbers, but that’s all that is. It’s a number. When someone comments, like you just did, I see and learn about a teacher who reads my posts and that’s great!!
        Thanks again.
        Joanna 😀


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