Communication skills when teaching business English to advanced students.

Communication skills when teaching business English to advanced students.

Teaching business was always a class I looked forward to, because I could talk about something I loved and that I studied. Business English is more about helping the particular students to develop their English skills in a business context. Firstly when teaching business English I like to find out what the students objectives. I discuss with the student at the beginning of the course of what they would realistically like to achieve. This usually means breaking things down into skills: answering the phone effectively, writing more coherent emails, meetings, etc.

Secondly I try to get a clear idea of the students’ level of English and the contexts in which the students’ use English. A very important part of the needs analysis process should be a discussion about the context in which the course participants need to perform: Why are they learning English? Who do they communicate with in their work and under what conditions? Someone who is learning English just to brush up fluency skills will have different needs and expectations to someone who is learning English to supervise a team working in another country. Some of the students took the business English classes as they wanted to prepare for an interview with an international financial firm. It’s important to teach in a business-like way. This affects what you say, and how you behave, but also what you wear. If you’re going to work in-company, then punctuality, professionalism and competence are crucial.

Business people usually have high expectations. They might ask for classes before they start work, during lunchtime or at the end of the working day. In addition, learners may cancel at the last minute because of unforeseen problems: perhaps an important call has come in. Although this can be frustrating, as a business English teacher I accept that, for learners in the workplace, work is clearly their priority. A further issue may be the numbers of people attending class. It’s not unusual to prepare for a group of six to eight people and have only one person show up. Try and create activities that will work on a one-to-one basis. Business English teaching can be very interesting and rewarding. Although teaching in-company employees requires a variety of skills and techniques, it mostly boils down to good preparation and a professional approach.

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