How Business English Stands Out
One of the most important things to consider when teaching business English is what your students want out of the English lesson. When you talk about business English you aren’t talking about teaching adults versus teaching children, these are business professionals that often work in international trade where English is the language of business. You’re unlikely to go over the names of utensils in English in a business English class unless the students you’re working with are looking to open a restaurant, and even then being able to coherently discuss how much it costs to open a restaurant and the operating costs of a restaurant are more important than them knowing how to correctly pronounce knife. In fact, if you go over utensils or other food-related terms it’s likely to be because your students want to be able to coherently talk to English speakers during a meeting at a restaurant.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Kelsey R. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
English for special purposes
Because business English is English for a specific purpose rather than the edification of the students are more likely to be motivated than students that you might encounter other ways. These students are learning English for their jobs, so future bonuses and raises might be affected by their English ability. A middle manager at an international business who speaks no English may be less likely to be promoted than one who speaks English well simply because the higher up in management someone is the more likely they are to have to speak to people who speak English. These students are also, by and large, older than a lot of English students you may see elsewhere, which can be a trade-off.
Differences between adults and children
As a rule, children can pick up the language faster than adults because they are still learning their first language, because adults have already mastered their first language, they have a harder time reconciling the differences in languages. However, adults have a much longer attention span than children do, that doesn’t mean that you can conduct a 5-hour crash course in English and expect your students to remember everything you’ve taught, but the younger the children are the more you have to be conscious of when their attention starts to wane, otherwise, you’ll have classroom disruptions to monitor. Adults can keep themselves in check in a way younger learners may not be able to, even when they don’t understand or are beginning to get bored. However, considering that oftentimes business English lessons are conducted during business hours the adults are less likely to get bored simply because it’s different from their work.
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Some of the differences between business English teaching and general English teaching lay in the levels you’re teaching though. If you’re teaching beginners business English there may be very little to no difference in the material covered because everyone needs to start somewhere, but as the level advances more differences become apparent. Oftentimes a more advanced student will look to you for input into a presentation they’ll be given to native English speakers to ensure their points come across the way that they want to and they’re not making any cultural blunders rather than looking to you for grammar assistance.
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