How to Teach Business English in ESL Setting
The Need to Study English for Business
Teaching English is becoming more specialized. In fact, there are many
demands for those who possess the skills to teach the language for special
purposes. With many companies requiring their employees to have at least a
decent grasp of English, jobseekers with trainings and knowledge in
communicating for business take every possible opportunity to enhance their
skills. To get the best of what globalization can offer, many are willing to
invest time and money to get into a more competitive job market.
Getting ready for a more competitive world of business and economies is the
driving force for the influx of students in business English classes. Acquiring
knowledge and experience about corporate correspondence and the cultural and
political diversity can be one of the reasons some students even invest so much
to study abroad. With the expertise on understanding and getting into business
in a diverse world market they can bring home, they sure can land the best jobs
than the more conventional workers.
Teachers of Business English Communication
Being a bit advanced compared to that of general English language classes,
expectations are higher and teachers need to pull resources and talents to
deliver the goals of the curriculum in business classes through English as a
second language. This is true as dealing with those in the industry requires
special skills, deeper knowledge of the subject matter, and interest to learn
what might be foreign for a language teacher. Since most students in this kind
of classroom are mature and motivated to achieve specific goals, they expect
expert opinions and lectures.
Looking at a different perspective, teaching
business English as a regular language teacher can make way to new learning and
wider opportunities. Consequently, those who wish to venture in this branch of
ESL must be flexible, and able to meet the specific needs of the students given
the limited time.
Many teachers might be challenged in determining which points are needed to
prepare the students for the real world. With world markets getting more and
more interdependent, students are to be instructed with diversity in mind. This
means that teaching should not only focus on facilitating improvement on
business language skills but also for a multi-cultural workforce where
differences in communication, conversation styles and social practices are
Tips for Teaching Business English in ESL Setting
There is no doubt that regular ESL teachers may be intimidated by the topic
on choice of words and the context where they are used. This might be due to the
fact that lessons are professional in nature just as the activities are too
Native or near-native teachers must understand though there are goals
to be set and kept the moment they step in the classroom, the class still
functions as to assist students to improve their communication skills just like
any ESL session. The only difference might be the strict corporate atmosphere
not present in every day informal set-ups of language classrooms.
Here are the ways to go along your English business classes:
1. Get to know the
class members. Yes, this might be one specialized class
but getting to know your students is one of the best ways to get started. Though
some of these classes might be done one-on-one, many would go for group classes
with about 8 to 15 members, depending on where you are. Despite the difference
in the class setting, remember that they all attend with one goal in mind: to be
able to communicate for business. While some were financed by their companies,
others are fresh graduates looking forward to arming themselves with abilities
for job applications.
These people may have one common purpose but they differ
in their needs. Those who attend classes at their expense are likely to be more
motivated and interested to probe on things than those who have to comply with
their companiesí demands. It is essential that you know them to make sure you
keep the balance.
2. Begin with goal
setting. Before you plunge into the first topic, make sure
the goals of the class are clear to all members. When everyone understands the
purpose of being in your class, they are likely to be more interested, working
harder to hit the target.
Generally, business English classes are expected to
build confidence and proficiency, so make sure the students are ready to keep up
with the demands. Consequently, this could mean that they have to take most of
the talk time from the teacher except the first few days of introduction and
concept mapping. It is essential to make it clear to all members that the goal
is to develop them into more independent and creative communicators, as speaking
requires more from them.
3. Prepare a bag of interesting topics. Since the focus of the class is
getting acquainted with and surviving in the real world of work, you can begin
facilitating discussions on their views about being employed. Start asking about
their most common schedules and demands of the workload. Everyone will have
their own share of things to say, and others will be amazed to realize the
similarities they share, and the differences they have to deal with.
of the class members are inexperienced or fresh graduates, opinions on
internship or job hunting can be solicited. Neophytes can learn from their
experienced classmates, while older ones can gain insights on younger membersí
perspectives. When choosing a topic, be sure everyone can relate to, or others
would be interested to know them.
4. Keep your focus.
Donít be tempted to pry into your studentsí experiences
with their companies. Keep on track even if topic starts to get juicy as it goes
deeper into sharing confidential information. Lead students to more positive
facets of their employment. Make them stick to the discussions by exposing them
to terms they must familiarize.
vocabulary used for business like
contract, inter-office communication, letterhead, and the like. Design your
discussions in a way that they will find ways to use the words tackled in class.
Help build vocabulary by soliciting questions, and making them answerable by
class members. Assist in getting into the correct word for a specific business
opportunities for practice. After discussions of words or phrases
related to work, help students retain information better by simulation
activities. As they have enough words in their business vocabulary, come up with
activities like mock interviews where they have to take turns as employees and
employers. When available, play a video about a typical office day conversation,
muting some parts of the sentences for them to supply the correct words. They
are not only given the chance to speak but also to decide how and when words are
supposed to be used.
You can also make them work in pairs assigned to discuss a
certain topic. This will encourage independent thinking and learning rather than
just mere spoon-feeding.
6. Impose an
English-only policy. When teaching in a country where all class
members speak the same language, this will have to be strictly implemented.
Additionally, though there might be very little chance to have international
class members of the same nationality or language, make sure they only
communicate in English. While giving them freedom to work on their own, roam
around and make sure they only communicate in the target language.
expose them to the possible experience of having to exclusively talk in English
to close a business deal or get a job. Inculcate in their minds that the class
should be an avenue to get real-life communication styles they may not enjoy
when they go back to their home country or finish the course.
7. Help them gain confidence. Perhaps the best thing you will have to impart
to your students in business English classes is the confidence to use the
language. This can be made possible with frequent guided practice or activities.
Instead of just memorizing and using words in sentences, give them the chance to
steal the limelight and the center of attention in the class. Let them lead
business presentations. Depending on your studentsí status, assign topics that
are useful for their careers.
When one student is a supervisor, give the freedom
to present to the class things that involve the actual work. Make sure they use
the correct vocabulary for a specific business scenario. Make them experience
how it feels to be in front of a culturally or socially diverse audience,
talking about the things they do best, but this time in English. This will give
them the chance to develop their strengths in communication, and find out their
weaknesses and the possible remedy with your help. Donít hesitate to give honest
student praise if you have to.
ESL students attend business communication classes to develop literacy on the
international workforce. Though many are highly motivated, some would not be as
active as others as they are left with no choice but to study. This is
especially true when their classes are funded by the company. It is then
expected that the teacher will devise ways to keep students interested. Instead
of reading boring texts or business magazine articles exclusively, integrate
real-life scenarios in the workplace. Relate topics to the studentsí employment
background and design exercises that cater to almost all aspects of business
English. Let them interact or have their time to give information to the class.
Lead discussions that will give everyone the chance to speak and share
information with each other.
Being a regular language teacher challenged to teach business English should
cause no alarm. Remember that despite the levels and experience of the students,
you are giving instructions on using the language to convey meaning based on a
specific manner expected of every worker. Everyone who speaks English and has
experience working has the chance to learn. You are not expected to coin new
words but to bridge the gap between what they know in general language classes
and that of business. Background on the topics you must teach is a must, so
researching and getting yourself equipped for the topics will save you time
feeling more at ease in front of the class.
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