7 Top Tips for Teaching Business English ✅
The world of teaching English as a foreign language can take you into many different types of classrooms, and teaching business-related English is one of the fastest-growing areas worldwide. Despite a rapid increase in demand in the business sector, many teachers are reluctant to go down this route for a few common reasons. Although teaching English in a business environment is a professional undertaking that needs to be taken seriously, you should not overlook opportunities in this area because you are intimidated by the prospect or don't have the necessary background to achieve success. Teaching jobs in the business sector are widespread and potentially very lucrative, so we have put together a few top tips to get you started.
1. Don't be intimidated
One of the main reasons why TEFL qualified teachers steer away from jobs teaching business English is they feel they lack the background and qualifications to do so. While this is an understandable viewpoint, it is somewhat misguided as anyone who has completed a TEFL training course has the potential to teach English in any of the specific areas of language teaching out there. English for Specific Purposes covers a range of unique areas, such as medical English, English for tourism, aviation English, etc. Many teachers working in these areas have no working background in them.
Although having some experience of working within the corporate world would be an advantage when teaching business English, it is certainly not a necessity in the same way that you don't need to be a doctor to teach English for medicine. You will usually find the employer will provide a great deal of guidance on what you need to teach, and you will also find plenty of relevant resources and information online. Another great option is to complete an additional specialized training course such as the Certificate in Teaching Business English from ITTT, which builds on the knowledge you have already gained from your initial TEFL training course.
Also Read: 7 Important Questions about Business English
2. Find out what they need to learn
Unlike in some English teaching environments, many of your students in a business English class will actually need to use what they learn in the classroom in real-life situations. Because of this, it is essential that you complete a thorough needs analysis with every student before planning or delivering any lessons. In order to plan your lessons, you will need to have a clear idea about what language skills they need to do their jobs effectively and what they already know in terms of existing English ability.
As your students are likely to be well educated and experienced professionals, you should also ask them what they expect from their lessons, what type of lessons and activities they find most useful, and anything they would rather not be asked to do. By personalizing their learning experience, you should help each student make rapid progress and also help them to notice their own improvements, which should make for a happy classroom.
3. Keep it professional
Although you should always approach English teaching in a professional manner, whatever the environment, it is especially important when teaching business-related English. It should go without saying that this applies to your appearance and overall behavior, but also to the content and delivery of your lessons. While it is always important for the students to interact with each other and to work together as a team, this type of classroom is not usually the right environment for some of the fun and games you might be used to providing in previous classrooms.
Although it is good to have light-hearted moments from time to time, business English lessons generally need to remain focused on the target language, and goals need to be achieved within set time limits. With this in mind, a clear strategy of regular assessment and feedback is typically expected in this area of EFL teaching.
4. Maintain motivation
One common characteristic of business English classes that you need to be aware of is that it is common for them to take place before, during, or after your students' normal day's work. Because of this, they could be tired, distracted, stressed, or simply uninterested because they are only attending out of obligation to their employer. To combat these potential negativities, the teacher must be upbeat, enthusiastic, and motivational in their approach, without going over the top and entering into class-clown territory. As mentioned previously, it is important to be professional in this environment; however, motivation is just as important in business English classes as in any other classroom.
5. Use real materials
In many other types of English classes, it is common to follow a set coursebook or another general curriculum that can be adapted to different classes. However, in the world of teaching business English, these are not usually of much use or interest to your students who are there to learn specific areas of language that are relevant to their current or future working lives. Unless the employer has provided a set curriculum with all the materials required, it is up to you to source the most appropriate materials for your lessons.
In most cases, using authentic materials sourced from within the company or elsewhere in their specific industry will provide the real-life applications the students need to learn and progress. These authentic materials can take the form of emails, PowerPoint presentations, flyers, accounts, receipts etc. Often the best way to get hold of authentic materials is via the students themselves. Just make sure you avoid any confidential information that has not been cleared by the appropriate management.
6. Focus on results
In most cases, business English students are in the classroom to learn specific language and skills related to their everyday work and not to learn the intricate mechanics of the English language. They might be there to learn skills such as writing emails, speaking on the phone, or making presentations, so it is best to focus on the actual production of these skills rather than the technicalities.
If you give too much importance to individual grammar as you might in other scenarios, you could well lose the interest of the class. If the focus is on producing the language they are there to learn; your students are more likely to be motivated to progress further. As is the case in most classrooms, if the students can see they are making progress, they will come to each lesson wanting to take that progress further.
7. Look like you are enjoying it
Despite your best efforts to make your lessons interesting and engaging for your students, it might sometimes be the case that the curriculum and materials you are using are not of great interest to you. In this situation, the worst thing you can do is let your students know it as they will instantly switch off, and all rapport in the class can quickly evaporate. Regardless of the lesson points or the material being used, it is part of the job as an English language teacher to always appear as if you are enjoying every bit of it.
Even on a wet Monday morning when you wish you could have stayed in bed, it is important to remain upbeat, or your students will pick up on your mood, and all hope of progress can be lost. As a teacher, you are largely responsible for the mood of the class, so whatever the weather, you need to crack a smile and look like you are enjoying it.
Are you ready to teach business English?
As the business English sector is one of the fastest-growing areas of the TEFL world, there are endless opportunities waiting for anyone who wants to take advantage of them. Don't be frightened off just because you have no experience in business. Apply for those jobs, and the chances are you will never look back.
Speak with an ITTT advisor today to put together your personal plan for teaching English abroad.
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