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Games! The Negotiation: a language game

A language game for EFL business students at English level B2 and higher.

The Negotiation: A language game

The aim of the game is to negotiate the best deal possible while developing business negotiation language and English accuracy with conditions. Below, I've given examples of some of the setup materials. 

Game and Language Objectives

     To sell or buy property through negotiating with classmates
     To successfully achieve the character’s wants and desires through said negotiations

     To practice speaking accuracy using conditionals (mostly 1st and 2nd)
     To develop vocabulary and functional language use for negotiations

The Setup:

The setup is in three stages. The character refers to the character card given to each student. This card outlines the goal of the negotation, and allows the student to focus on the language to achieve said goal. 

  1. Prepare the negotiation: develop your minimum requirements for your character
  2. Choose a number of phrases that you want to use during your negotiation.
  3. Start negotiations and try to get the best deal possible!

Phrases & Stages:

Negotiations typically follow stages, and the materials provide students with language phrases for each stage. Here are some examples below. 

Opening the negotiation & taking positions
Each side presents their position.
  • Our basic position is…
  • I propose an opening bid of …

Proposals and counter-proposals
Bridging the gap between the two sides
Making proposals and concessions about price and other relevant issues
  • I am afraid I cannot agree to that. How about…
  • I'm afraid I had something different in mind. 

Character and Outcomes Example

The character sheets provide the students with a goal and a motivation. This allows students more time to concentrate on their language and accuracy. The Basic Wants outlines the character's specific goals for the negotiation. One example card is given below. 

You are Buyer 6
You are an artist looking for a place to showcase your talent. As an amateur artist, you’re pretty successful but you really want to make it big…Money is tight but you absolutely want as much office space as possible and no storage space…

Basic wants:
  • Want at least: 300m office space
    • HOWEVER: you may share space if the other tenant allows visitors during the day
  • Desired lease length: 1 year

The outcomes are based on the character cards; each character card has a unique outcome depending on whether the student failed or succeeded in achieving the basic wants. These outcomes are usually withheld from the students until the end when they can be viewed and discussed as a class. 

Buyer 6 Outcomes
Failure in meeting requirements: You spend 20 years trying to sell your art, but never make a living wage. Tired of living off welfare and tired of the constant criticism of your art, you admit that your father was right all along and that you aren’t good enough to be an artist. You go home to beg for his forgiveness.

Success in meeting requirements: A famous critic stops in to view your exhibition and she loves it! Before you know it, your art is being sold faster than you can make it, so you stop selling it. This increases the value of your art and your popularity soars! One day you run into your father, whom swore you would never make it as an artist, and after an awkward pause, give him a big hug. Your father starts crying and pleading for your forgiveness, and you offer him your most prized painting.

Reflection and follow-up

The reflection is used to practice the third condition based on the results of the game.

You may download the full materials by clicking here. These materials are to be used for educational purposes only.


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