Communication with Gen Z in the Workplace (Advanced Lesson)

ESL/EFL Level: Advanced (C1/C2)
Lesson Topics: workplace communication, formality, generational differences
Skill Focus: Reading, Speaking, Vocabulary
Approximate Class Time: 1.75 hours
Lesson Plan Download: gen-z-communication-style-advanced-042024.docx
Lesson Overview:

  • After warm-up questions, students read a 292-word passage based on an article entitled "Not all employers are tolerating Gen Z's laid-back language" from the BBC. The article describes the conflict between conventional communication styles and Gen Z's more laid-back way of communicating. After a recall activity and comprehension questions, students match vocabulary from the video to definitions and then form discussion questions using the target vocabulary.
  • There is one debate topic about whether to hire a Gen Z employee to work at a luxury watch store. The roleplay scenario has a Gen Z and Gen X employee try to politely complain about issues in the workplace stemming from different generational cultures.
  • As a bonus, there is also a writing-related that has students try to rewrite informal sentences into more professional expressions.
  • This is followed by some famous quotations. The lesson ends with a review of vocabulary and collocations before presenting some final discussion questions.

An interview with a Gen Z applicant

ADVANCED (C1/C2) Lesson on Communicating with Gen Z’s


  1. What generation are you from, e.g. Gen X, millennial, etc.? How would you say it differs from other generations?
  2. In your opinion, what does it mean to be ‘professional’ in business?
  3. How do you think the way we communicate has changed over the years?

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This lesson plan was created by Matthew Barton of (copyright). Site members may photocopy and edit the file for their classes. Permission is not given to rebrand the lesson, redistribute it on another platform, or sell it as part of commercial course curriculum. ChatGPT was used to generate answer keys and some famous quotations. For questions, contact the author. 

Comprehension Question Answer Key

  1. The main idea of the passage is to discuss the challenges and conflicts arising between traditional workplace expectations and the informal communication style of Gen Z workers.
  2. According to the passage, to "focus on authenticity" means that young workers want to maintain their personal identities and genuine selves at work, rather than adopting a more formal work persona. This can be a problem for employers who expect a certain level of professionalism and formality in the workplace.
  3. One reason from the passage that explains Gen Z’s communication style is their upbringing with social media platforms like TikTok, which exposes them to more informal, friendly communication styles used by influencers, differing greatly from the conventional communication styles previously upheld in workplaces.
  4. The main takeaways from the Harvard study mentioned in the passage are that weak executive presence and poor communication style are significant factors that can stall career progress. This implies that professionalism, including how one communicates, remains crucial for career advancement.

Vocabulary 1-c, 2-b, 3-k, 4-f, 5-e, 6-j, 7-L, 8-a, 9-h, 10-d, 11-g, 12-i

Formality: Possible answers

  1. Could you please respond when you have a moment?
  2. Certainly, I will have that completed by tomorrow.
  3. I apologize for the oversight. I will correct it as soon as possible.
  4. I apologize for missing that deadline. I will ensure it is addressed immediately.
  5. Would you be available to cover for me this Friday?

Collocations 1-e, 2-a, 3-b, 4-c, 5-d


  • [1] Main source for passage:
  • [2]

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