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ESL Worksheets: Business Idioms

Level: ESL Advanced
Objective: practice business related idioms
Read the following passage to the class:
John’s company designed a new vehicle that looks like a small motorcycle.  The vehicle doesn’t use gas, but instead an electric battery powers it.  The cost of charging the battery is less than a dollar a day.  This vehicle is very cost-effective. It’s also great for the environment because, unlike traditional vehicles, it does not pollute the air.  Additionally, the vehicle looks quite stylish and is similar to European designs.  The vehicles have become extremely popular this year.  John’s company is selling so many of the vehicles.
Clarify the meaning of the passage if needed.
Read the passage a second time.  This time add the following line to the end of the passage:
They’re selling like hotcakes!
Write the last line on the board.  Ask learners what this line means.  Learners will provide a definition that means the product was selling very quickly and successfully.  Point out that 'selling like hotcakes' is an idiom.  Ask learners if they knew the meaning of the idiom before today’s lesson, or if they were able to guess the meaning from the way it was used in the passage.  Point out that it’s often possible to guess the meaning of an idiom because of the way it is used in a conversation or situation. 
Pair Work: Have learners work in pairs.  Give each learner one copy of the worksheet.  Instruct learners to match the idiom found in the passages (1-10) to its definition.  They should be able to understand the idiom based on the context in which it is used in each passage.

Additional Work:  Have learners work in pairs and tell their partner about any experiences, that they are familiar with when one or more of the business idioms could be used.
ESL Worksheet: Business Idioms
  • an estimate
  • pay for something
  • a very good arrangement or deal
  • demand a lot in negotiations
  • selling quickly and successfully
  • discuss the conditions of a deal
  • receive high profits or returns
  • work on the financial aspect of a deal or business
  • the price fell substantially lower than an earlier price
  • the final result of a situation

1. Stella Myers, the famous movie actress, just wrote her biography last month. It’s a very popular book. So many people are buying the book. It’s selling like hotcakes !

2. The owner of the restaurant and the wine supplier are meeting to discuss the price of the wine shipments. They must also decide how much wine the restaurant will buy each month. They’ll talk terms .

3. The Board of Directors liked the idea of using environmentally friendly packaging for the products. However, the material needed for the new packaging is much more expensive than the material presently used. If the company switched to an environmentally friendly package, they would lose money. The bottom line is that the company won’t change the packaging if it means losing money.

4. The Wilson family wanted to expand their hotel. It seemed like a good idea, but they didn’t know how much they could afford to spend on the expansion. They needed to look at their finances carefully. They’d have to crunch numbers before deciding what to do.

5. The stock for ABC Company has been going up all year. Then, unexpectedly the price fell to an all time low. The bottom dropped out suddenly.

6. The sponsor of the Beauty Pageant will pay for the food, clothes and accommodation of all the contestants. The girls in the pageant won’t need to pay for anything because the sponsor will foot the bill .

7. Marty opened up an ice-cream shop near the beach. His shop is the only place in the area that sells ice-cream and cold drinks. He’s going to be very successful. He’ll probably make a killing every summer.

8. The company was giving out free tea samples at the mall as a promotion for their new products. Of course, it was hard to guess how many samples they’d need over a 2-day period, but they came up with a ballpark figure .

9. Lou invested in a software company just before home computers became popular. He tripled his money in no time. He made a fortune, but didn’t have to work for it. It was a sweet deal .

10. Mary insisted that the company buying her store pay the asking price, and give her a 6-month closing. She said if they didn’t agree to her conditions, she wouldn’t negotiate with them. Instead, she would find another buyer. Everyone said she would drive a hard bargain and they were right.

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ESL Worksheet - Business Idioms.pdf

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