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Teaching Business English

Teaching Business English


Teaching Business English - some survival tips!

English is THE international language, not just general terms, but also in business. People travelling the world on business, or welcoming overseas business clients their own country will usually use English as the medium of communication and to get business done. For Chinese people in business, learning English has never been so important and relevant to their lives as it is today. This is where you, the ESL teacher, come in!

If you get a teaching job in a private language centre, unless it is a children-only centre, you can expect to either teach Business English courses or teach people who do business General English. The market is so big, that most schools offer courses to these types of clients or companies will drop by schools and ask them if they can set up a course for them. Either way, as a foreign teacher on the academic team, you can expect to be given some of these classes at some stage.

Now hearing this may get some people’s pulses racing, but for other teachers this can be a daunting thing to hear. If you are in the latter group, then you aren’t alone and it is a lot easier than you would think!

Most importantly you should consider that you aren’t a business teacher, you are a language teacher. The students coming in to learn Business English know what they are doing. Many may have been in business for twenty or more years and be high level managers; the reason that they are coming to you is that they need to know how to talk about what they do in our language. There are no expectations on you to be an expert in the stock market, have a PhD in Economics or anything of that nature. The student understands that you are a language teacher and not a business analyst and by explaining to you what it is they do, they can not only get this quality practice, but you can gradually pick up some useful knowledge about other industries.

Here are a few tips when first given a Business English course:

- Find out if you will be using a course book or are expected to make your own course materials. There are some excellent course books out there, giving your Business Course a good structure and a good balance of reading, speaking, writing and authentic listening materials

- Will this be a one-to-one course, or will you have more students? This is important for lesson planning and the types of activities you can do

- If you are being asked to make the materials yourself, then don’t panic! Find out which area of business your students are in. Try to tailor your course to what they might need to know. For example, if your students are in the field of International Trade, look for articles and ESL material relevant to their working lives. Don’t find Banking English materials if their field is in Hospitality

- Find out the general level of your class and find supplementary materials suitable and relevant to their level

- Do lots of review work! Always review in the first 10-15 mins on the class what was covered in the previous lesson

- Set homework for your students. Ask them to email their work to you in English, this way you have a record of their progress and can email them back with error correction advice

- Find authentic listening material for your students to listen to. There is loads of good stuff available if you search online. Give www.businessenglishpod.com a try!

- Even if you do have a book, think of fun ways to get your students up out of their seats. Think of role plays which either accompanies the topic of the day, or ones which might help your students in their working lives. When your students come across a business situation where English is required, they’ll be happy that this is a familiar situation from one of your role plays and that they have the language needed to get by

- Relax! Enjoy your teaching, get motivated when looking for good supplementary material online and enjoy learning about your students’ working lives

- Catch a meal or a coffee with your students outside of school when you are both free. It’s not only a good way for your students to practice English in informal situations, but you can develop real friendships and excellent networking opportunities here in China!