Teaching Business English in the EFL Classroom
We have created a podcast to complement this lesson.
Teaching Business English in EFL Podcast – eight minutes
You can download all our podcasts from our podcast page.
Teaching Business English, or any kind of ESP (English for Specific Purposes or sometimes for “Special Purposes”), should be considered once you have a some experience in TEFL.
Business English, or other ESP classes, usually pay better than teaching “conversation” English classes and some teachers find them more enjoyable.
Obviously, these classes will center around a work environment and utilize business or ESP vocabulary. Early in your TEFL career you should probably NOT teach these type classes unless you have prior work experience in business or other ESP areas or some specialized training. Why? Businesses usually have a very focused aim as to what they want to accomplish and if you have little experience in the business world, you may have little understanding of what is required.
Business English students are usually quite different from typical language school students. They are often older, more experienced and tired from a long day at work and have a definite idea about what they want to learn. Also, sometimes, they are required to take English classes if they want to progress in their company. If you are seen as being “wet behind the ears” and as having little or no knowledge of their world, you will typically be replaced rather quickly.
Some EFL teachers think that teaching Business English is the same as teaching regular English classes but with a little business vocabulary thrown in. Some teachers think that all you might need to do is to change The book is on the desk to The report is on the photocopier. This is not good enough.
These older, more skilled business people also need you to have some interest and knowledge of the business world . You would be expected to pique their interest and create relevant context for your lessons. If you have no awareness of the context of their work, this will be quite difficult to do. However, if you do find yourself in this situation, research the business where you will teach and learn as much as you can about what they do and their products and services and include as much of that as possible in the lessons.
Using a good Business English course book can help get you started, but even better is a custom designed course tailored specifically to meet the needs of the business people that will be in your class. The best way to design such a course is to first identify the needs of the students that will be in the class or their employer. Don’t forget who your client/customer is! It is the people who are paying you.
You can download a simple form to help you build the needs analysis here:
Business English Needs Analysis
A good understanding of what your students need is critical to helping you design and teach a course that provides the language skills they need.
A good website for ideas and lessons is HERE. There are lots of ideas for exercises and activities. The different “lessons” on the site are not well organized for good teaching method but you can easily adapt them into PPP or ESA type lessons.