How to Teach Business English
In order to answer the question how Business English should be taught, it is essential to specify what the term Business English actually signifies and which topics it includes. Business English in terms of vocabulary can be much different from General English. Whereas in terms of grammar there will be no significant differences between the two. On the other hand, Business English is still more easily understandable than English for Special Purposes (eg. medicine, law, finance, etc.) In fact it is feasible to state that it may not really require much specific business knowledge.
If you decide to teach Business English, the topics you will be discussing with your students will include such areas as: meetings, tele-conferencing, business travel, negotiations, business communication, work-life balance, success, business correspondence, job satisfaction, employability, branding, customer satisfaction, the basics of company finance. All in all, the topics will be connected with the everyday activity of an average company.
Teaching Business English Like a Pro
Surely, there is no single recipe for being a great and inspiring teacher nor for being such a Business English teacher. However, there are remedies and measures, in addition to rules of the thumb that can make your professional teaching career easier and more successful. First of all, choose suitable teaching materials. Do not use General English materials when you teach Business English. If you want to make sure that your Business English lesson will be a success, base it on Business English teaching materials, which by the way are in abundance in bookshops and online. Secondly, listen to your students. Analyse their language needs at the beginning of the course. Adjust the topics and skills you’d be practising with them to their specific needs. If your students work for example in a call centre, put emphasis on oral communication and teach them some useful phrases. Whilst teaching personal assistants practise their speaking (sentence construction, pronunciation, vocabulary) as well as writing skills. Thirdly, include authentic materials, such as TED talks, interviews, newspaper articles. Furthermore, remember that adults in general, and especially business people, have normally very hectic and busy schedules and sometimes you’ll have to be flexible whilst arranging weekly appointments with them. Fortunately, Business English lessons may have different forms – weekly face-to-face meetings, lessons on the phone, virtual classrooms, e-mail English. It is also highly probable that your students will not have much time for revising the material covered during the lessons, which is why revising new vocabulary and grammar during lessons is usually a must and is of utmost importance. Which is why you should look for interesting ways of revising Business English vocabulary and functional phrases. Recommend apps that could be useful in broadening the knowledge of English words and phrases in parallel with developing learners’ listening skills.
Power of Elicitation
As a Business English teacher, it is quite obvious that your students will be adults. Hence, adults are the target group with whose needs you would want to become familiar. One of the fundamental differences between children and grown-ups is their background knowledge. Young learners do not possess it whereas grown-ups already have life experience, work experience and are capable of forming their own opinions on every possible topic. Whilst teaching new phrases, idioms, colocations, lexical items, it is then advisable to elicit what your students already know and connect new ideas and words with their personal experience and previous knowledge. Personalisation is a really powerful tool in the process of teaching adults.
Use a variety of techniques and approaches to develop your students’ speaking skills. The speaking practice should be as effective as possible as the majority of your Business English students will be already communicating, to a larger or smaller extent, in English within their workplaces. They will definitely want to make considerable progress in this particular area as quickly as possible. Therefore, remember about practising speaking during each and every meeting with your students and be resourceful. You can use methods such as drills, role plays, simulations, improvisations, presentations, information gap activities, dialogues, summaries, questions, debates, picture descriptions. Practice fluency and on other occasions practice accuracy and give learners feedback on their performance. Teach functional language, for example fixed phrases for telephone conversations as well as fillers. Boost your students’ confidence, motivate them to speak, as speaking a foreign language is usually the skill which most people find difficult to develop.
Birds of a Feather
Business English should be taught in a business-like manner. Put emphasis on values and factors that your students have to respect on a daily basis. Be punctual, professional, prepared, adjust your dress-code to the in-company environment. Don’t try to differentiate yourself from your students, instead try to become a business person. Additionally, be energetic and enthusiastic, as adults usually have a lot on their plates, but in order to learn effectively their attention must be drawn from their professional responsibilities and everyday difficulties to the English language and topics discussed during the language lesson.
Enjoy teaching Business English and make the most of it. All in all, teaching Business English gives you a unique opportunity to get to know a lot of new and interesting people, learn about the business environment and economy, see how specific branches of industry work on a daily basis and broaden your own knowledge of the world around us and the country you have chosen to live in.