Workplace gossip

Lesson plan overview

This ESL lesson plan is focused on the topic of workplace gossip and how to handle it. Students will learn useful vocabulary and expressions to talk about workplace gossip, will learn how to use indirect speech in the workplace, and will have plenty of opportunities to discuss the topic. You can combine this lesson with the lesson “Dealing with a difficult co-worker”, and the worksheet “Idioms: secrets and gossip”.
Speaking: This lesson starts with 2 speaking activities. First, students are given 7 conversation questions related to workplace gossip to discuss in pairs and small groups. Then they are given 5 discussion statements to agree or disagree with, giving reasons for their answers.
Vocabulary: The target vocabulary for this lesson is introduced through a very short text about why people gossip. it includes words such as bond, undermine, be left out, spread rumors, discredit, vent, let off steam. Students work out the meaning of the words from context and match them to their definitions. Then they complete 2 practice activities. First, they choose the correct option to complete 6 sentences. Then they complete 5 short dialogues with the correct expression. Finally, they discuss a few questions given.
Listening: Students watch a video “Workplace gossip (rules to avoid office gossip)” and complete 2 tasks, after which they engage in a post-listening discussion. After that students are given different situations, and they talk about how they are going to react in each one.
Grammar: Students learn how to use indirect speech in the workplace. First, there is a short explanation of the grammar point. Then students are asked to transform 6 sentences from direct to indirect speech. To practise, students are asked to bring a co-worker up to date with what happened during a business meeting they had not attended, using indirect speech as much as possible.
The conversation cards provide a great opportunity to revise the vocabulary from this lesson.
You can combine this lesson with other Business English topics such as workplace conflict.

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Teacher’s lesson plan

Student’s worksheet

Student’s interactive PDF

Conversation cards PDF

Pre-class activities

To send the pre-class activities to your students, copy the link below.

Vocabulary matching


The first time you watch the video, pay special attention to the correct pronunciation of the following words:

Well, it’s really important to have alliances throughout the organization, so you have people who be your advocate when you’re not in the room.
Really drew a laugh, and also the gossip died down.
It’s good, too, to address those, not in a hostile way that puts people on the defensive, but just say, look, you could get this impression, but there’s nothing to it

Comprehension questions

In-class activities

Teacher’s lesson plan
Student’s worksheet

Conversation cards PDF

Student’s interactive PDF

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