Do We Have a Deal? Help Your ESL Students Negotiate in English

Do We Have a Deal? Help Your ESL Students Negotiate in English

Andrea Pesce
by Andrea Pesce 31,253 views

Negotiations are present in our everyday life.

Many ESL teachers consider negotiation is a skill only business students should develop. However, if you think about it, you negotiate everyday and more often than you can even imagine. We do it with our spouses, kids, siblings, and even our students, young or old. However, though negotiation is very common, there are certain types that don't come as naturally to everyone alike. Some people feel reluctant to find a compelling argument to convince others to do or not to do something. They simply don't like it. Others, on the other hand, are very willing to negotiate but are not very good at it. Negotiation is an art but not a secret. We can all learn to be better negotiators. Take a look at the negotiating strategies and ESL language functions below.

Prepare Your Students to Negotiate Effectively

  1. 1

    Get Ready

    As in anything we do, preparation is key. At this point, students must understand that in any negotiation they'll be lost if they rush in without the necessary preparation. They need to be clear on what they want out of the arrangement, but, they will also need to research the counterpart to better understand what their needs are. To help your students, have them consider and practice answering the following questions.

    What does the other party hope to get out of this?
    Why is this outcome important to them?
    What might happen if they don’t get what they are after?

  2. 2


    Listening is always important and in a negotiation it can go a long way. Listening to other part while negotiating will enable students to make the other person feel respected and as a consequence, it will build trust which is essential in any negotiation. It also gives people a good opportunity to make sure that there are no misunderstandings.

    An important language skill to build on at this point is echoing. This is when you repeat back what the person is saying. A good way to practice this with your students is to read a short text to them and have them echo what you said. Take a look at the example.

    T: What I really want to do tomorrow is watch a movie then go out for a bite. Maybe afterwards we can go to the party at Tina's.
    S: Ok, so you want to go to a movie, then dinner at a restaurant and to go to a party later on.

  3. 3

    Mutual Benefits

    Negotiating shouldn't be about winning and leaving a devastated opponent behind. Your students should understand that if this is what they expect, reaching and agreement will be much harder. The best way to approach negotiations is to find options that are beneficial to both parties. They need to be ready to make concessions and to plan what these might be. As you can imagine, the counterpart thinks the same way, so try to have a clear idea of what you want and what you are going to get.

    Some language skills needed at this point involve making concessions and also making counter offers. Take a look at the following expressions.

    We were hoping for....
    I am afraid that is out of the question.
    I don't think that we could go that far.

  4. 4

    Understanding Counter Offers

    Counter offers are a natural part of any negotiation. Your student should understand that they have to be prepared for counter offers from the other party when negotiating. They should also be prepared to make them when they are negotiating. In any case, acknowledging objections is another very important point to keep in mind. Doing this makes the other person feel understood and avoids bringing the discussion to an end. Take a look at some useful phrases you can teach your students.

    I understand where you are coming from but,...
    I see your point, however...
    There may be some room to manoeuvre, if you....

  5. 5

    Close with Confirmation

    All negotiations will come to an end whether an agreement is made or not. At this point students should be aware that it is important to recap everything discussed in the meeting, whether they have made a deal or not. They should never leave any loose ends, so after the recap, everyone should confirm. In business negotiations, appropriate follow up e-mails should be sent . Take a look at the examples.

    So we will … and you will... It's been a pleasure. Let's keep in touch. Feel free to contact me anytime.
    Ok so I'll … and you …. Great thanks for your time.

Some negotiations can be tough.

In life, many negotiations have a lot riding on them. No matter what your students will be negotiating, preparing them will give them the self confidence they need to make the best deal.

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