Why bother learning many different words to describe the exact same thing?
Isn’t one word more than enough?
When I was younger, I didn’t see the point of developing a vocabulary. Then my parents and teachers introduced me to vocabulary games.
Suddenly, learning English was no longer a challenge—it was fun, entertaining and even exciting.
And my language skills improved by leaps and bounds.
When you know more vocabulary, you won’t have to wrack your brains searching for the right thing to say.
You’ll be able to express yourself as clearly and efficiently as possible, making all sorts of business communications easy and profitable for you. The people around you will be impressed by your fluency and confidence.
I know, that sounds really good. No matter what level your mastery of Business English currently is, you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want to improve your speaking or writing skills. I’m going to show you how to exactly how to do that—in a fun way.
I’ll tell you about the different vocabulary games that you can play—either alone or with others—to improve your business English.
Unlike tedious lessons or lectures where you have to take notes, revise and keep practicing until you get it right—here, all you need is an open mind, a willingness to follow rules and a desire to “play” rather than win.
So, let’s get started, shall we?
Simple Ways to Improve Business English Vocabulary
Building a vocabulary may seem like an arduous task, but if you follow these tips and play the games listed below as well, you’ll be way ahead of everyone else.
- Learn a few words every day. Make it a point to develop your vocabulary regularly, by allocating a specific time for it each day.
- Make sentences with difficult words. Just mugging up the meanings won’t do. If the word is difficult or unfamiliar, the best way to remember it is to construct a self-explanatory sentence using it.
- Play word games. You can always expand your vocabulary by playing word games like Scrabble or Crosswords. Most of these also have mobile app versions and you can use your time productively by focusing on these when you’re stuck in a waiting room or in public transport.
- Flick through dictionaries and glossary lists. Buy a good Business English dictionary, and don’t just use it for reference. You can even use an online one.
- Keep a list of new words. Perhaps you can keep a separate notebook or a folder in your laptop to jot down new words. Make it a point to go over them on a weekly or bi-monthly basis, at the very least.
10 Fun and Educational Business English Vocabulary Games
The games listed here are really simple to play. Some of them require more than one player, some can be played alone and a few can be used in both situations. However, before beginning with any of them, I suggest you keep a business English dictionary close at hand and a pen and notepad to jot down anything relevant.
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This game won’t just improve your vocabulary, but also your overall presentation and communication skills. Ideally, the more people involved in the game, the better, but try to involve at least one other person.
There are many ways to play, but the simplest is to pick a character you’d like to roleplay. Alternatively, you can make a list of possible characters (a boss, a sales director, a marketing professional and so on) and possible scenarios (an interview, a conference call, a group meeting, an elevator pitch, etc.) and pick one from the list randomly.
The goal of the game is to pretend to be the chosen person in the selected situation to the best of your ability.
For instance, if you’ve picked “interview,” you can pretend to be the prospective employee and your friend can act as the future boss. If you need inspiration, you can always look up sample interviews on YouTube to get an idea of how the conversation would go.
You can also do this alone. If you have a speech to give, stand in front of the mirror and pretend to be the best version of yourself and practice the speech—this will calm your anxiety and inspire greater confidence.
You can also use FluentU‘s many videos to hear more examples, with the added benefit of annotated subtitles and plenty of other useful features.
Unlike traditional language learning sites, FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the English language and culture over time. You’ll learn English as it’s spoken in real life.
FluentU has a variety of engaging content from popular talk shows, nature documentaries and funny commercials, as you can see here:
FluentU makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you'll see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning and recommends examples and videos to you based on the words you’ve already learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning the same video.
You can start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, by downloading the app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
2. Business English Vocabulary Quiz
Quizzes are one of the easiest games to play—you just need a quizmaster and some really good questions.
The quizmaster picks out some relevant business English words and comes up with a quiz based on these questions. Everyone else takes turns trying to guess the meaning and earn points. To make the game more exciting, you can have certain “starred,” or more difficult, questions—if anyone can answer these, they earn additional points. Whoever has the most points at the end wins the game (and boasting rights).
But how do you craft a great question? There are many easy ways:
- One way is by telling players the meaning and having them try to guess the word it’s describing. For instance: “What word best describes a precise and effective sales pitch?” (The answer: elevator pitch.)
- Another way is by providing an interesting fact or tidbit about a word and asking players to guess the word: “This phase, which means ‘in reality,’ is actually a Latin phrase.” (The answer: de facto.)
- Or you can even ask acronyms: “What does SEO stand for?” (The answer: Search Engine Optimization.)
- Probably the easiest way to create a question, though, is by giving the word and asking players to state the meaning: “What does the term ‘agenda’ mean?” (The answer: a list of things that must be discussed in or addressed in a meeting.)
Your group can pool their resources and have a small token “prize” for the winner. You can make this a weekly activity. Instead of chilling out in a pub after work, you can plan a quizzing session that will be fun and informative at the same time.
This is another old game that still remains very popular and requires at least two players.
The premise is pretty simple: One player comes up with a word and the other guesses it, and vice versa.
Usually, you pick a theme or topic and your partner comes up with a word related to that field. Instead of writing down the word, they put down blank spaces to correspond to the number of letters in the word. If it’s a phrase or a word with two parts, the spaces are indicated by gaps.
For example, if the topic is “Economics” and your friend chooses the word “Balance Sheet,” they should write it as:
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Next, you try to figure out the word by guessing each letter. For every wrong guess, you lose a point. If you guess wrong seven times, you lose the round. A strategy for this is to begin guessing by trying to figure out the vowels first and then the consonants.
There are also plenty of online versions of hangman if you don’t have someone to play with, like the ManyThings business vocabulary Hangman. This is a great learning game because it helps you learn new words, particularly the long ones, and helps you memorize their spelling.
This game also involves at least two players. The goal of the game is to guess a business-related word by having your partner act it out using their hands and other non-verbal expressions. You have to guess the word based on these non-verbal cues within a certain time frame (one to three minutes).
This is a great game for improving your body language. For instance, if the word/phrase is “conference call,” you have to figure out a way to act it out—pretend to be on a call, indicate that there’s a large number of people and so on.
A variation of this game would is “draw” the word on a piece of paper (without writing the letters, obviously) and have your partner guess it. This will encourage you to think outside the box and be more creative and innovative—a skill that you can later use to come up with a business solution or plan.
Catena is a mobile vocabulary game available on iOS in which the system writes a word and you have to come up with another word using the last or the last few letters of that word. You can try this game with your friends or practice it on your own. Playing this game will help you review and expand your vocabulary, as you’ll have to get creative and really dig into your memory to find words that fit the prompts.
For example, if the word you choose is “entertainment,” you (or your partner, if you’re playing with someone) can continue it by writing “mentorship,” then “Shipment,” “Mention,” “Online” and so on until you can’t think of any new words. Plurals are not allowed, and you can’t repeat any words. Be creative! This game will help you find words you didn’t even realize you knew.
This game can be played alone or in a group and is sure to be a hit with people who like unconventional entertainment for its fun and somewhat silly nature. You don’t, of course, have to believe in fortune-telling to enjoy this game.
All you have to do is ask a question, open to a random page in a business English dictionary and place your finger on a random word on that page. Whatever word you get is supposed to be the “answer” to your question. The fun part is trying to fit the word into an answer.
For example, if your question was “How can I earn a lot of money?” and the word you landed on is “Network,” you can say that “The key to earning a lot of money is networking: making connections and meeting important people who can help your business grow.” If your answer was “procrastination,” then clearly the dictionary is a bad influence!
Through this game, you can come up with some cool predictions and learn interesting words. You can even make it a daily habit to learn a random new word from the dictionary in this manner. By making it a silly activity, you will make the word more memorable. You’ll be surprised at how many words you actually remember in this way.
This might sound a tad simple, but it’s a surprisingly useful way to improve your vocabulary, grammar and diction. All you have to do is choose a random word from a dictionary and make a grammatically correct and meaningful sentence out of it.
If you choose “Market,” you can say: “The Real Estate market is unstable and crashes can bring property values down.”
Add a bit of challenge to this by using a timer and giving yourself a time limit: for example, 30 seconds to come up with a sentence. You can also play this game with a friend, where you both assign “difficult” words to each other for make sentences. Another idea is to choose more than one word, and try to fit both into a single sentence.
8. Mock Presentations
Public speaking might seem scary but there are ways to overcome your fears. If you get nervous every time it’s your turn to deliver a presentation, try this game by yourself or with a friend.
Make a list of topics that are relevant to your field, write them down in little pieces of paper, fold them neatly and place them in a jar. Now you have a “Topics Jar.” Shake the jar and pick a paper from it, then talk about the topic that’s written on it for at least five minutes.
Your friend will listen to you and give you valuable feedback. If you’re doing it on your own, practice in front of a mirror. You can also use a recorder to record your voice and work at improving your accent and pronunciation.
9. Twenty Questions
This is another guess-the-word game that requires at least two people. One member picks a word related to business English and the other (or others) have to guess it by asking a maximum of twenty “yes” or “no” (or “sometimes”) questions about it.
A sample game might look like this:
- Is it related to manufacturing? No.
- Is it related to finance? Yes.
- Is it money you save? No.
- Is it money you spend? Yes.
- Is it money used by a business? Yes.
- Is it a budget? Yes!
Of course, some words will be more difficult to guess than others. You can help out by giving the general field or basic idea that the word is related to before your partner starts guessing.
This game encourages everyone to think in unconventional and offbeat ways, developing ingenuity and creativity, two skills which are valued in the workplace.
10. Make Your Own Crossword Puzzle
You can even make your own game. As a student of business English, you’re always learning new words and phrases and the best way to remember them is by revisiting them regularly.
But re-reading a list of words can be boring, so you can spice it up by designing a crossword puzzle around those words. Once you’re done, you can give it to a fellow co-worker or friend to solve. In that way, you’ll also help others learn and build meaningful relationships.
However, designing your own crossword might be daunting at first, so feel free to consult crossword-making websites. You can write down the clues and words and the system will develop the crossword for you.
These games will help you develop a solid business English vocabulary, and suddenly you’ll find yourself with the right words to describe anything and everything.
Archita Mittra is a freelance writer, artist, educator and a self-taught Italian speaker. Feel free to check out her blog or contact her for freelancing inquiries.
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