How do Business English Learners Differentiate From Other Learners?
Firstly, the major difference between Business English learners and other learners is that they are by default adults, which means that you are dealing with people who have a higher degree of maturity, come to learn out of choice vs. being told they must, and have greater attention spans, which means that as a teacher the materials I put together and the challenges I set out for my students must reflect their current reality. Because they are adults and are most probably working a full-time job and coming to learn English in the early morning and evenings, they may be preoccupied with adult issues at home, they may have been out of the educational classroom environment for a long and thus the way that I design the course needs to ensure that I keep them engaged and be very balanced and focused so as not to stress them out. Learning needs to be enjoyable and that is in great part due to the way I teach.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Lee E. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
It is important to design materials that provide context for the environments that Business English learners come from. If they work in office environments then when looking at the receptive and productive skills teaching I will need to use authentic and non-authentic materials that help them learn how to make successful telephone calls, or write emails or memos, and prepare and deliver presentations.
In terms of methodologies, there are several to name a few, the silent way, task-based learning, and PPP, but the one that takes the best from each method is the ESA method, Engage, Study, and Activate. There are different ways to structure the stages of this method of teaching, the most common is the Engage Study Activate, but there are also the Boomerang stages, where after Engaging them I can Activate the students to determine their gaps then Study and then Activate again so that the student can see their progress in closing those gaps. There are also Patchwork stages where I can create a longer lesson to cover more materials with my students, so for example it might look like Engage, Activate, Activate, Study, Activate, Study Activate. The most important thing is that whatever the stages I should always begin with Engage and finish with Activate. I also will ensure that there is much positive feedback given to my students to ensure that they are encouraged by the lesson.
Level and Needs Assessment
It is important when working with Business English learners that I do an assessment of their English levels and a needs analysis before putting together a syllabus. Testing my students throughout to ensure that progress is being made, determining areas that may need additional teaching, and also getting feedback from my students so that I can improve the course going forward.
Creating a Lesson Plan
When designing a lesson plan, I need to consider the many different materials that I can draw from when teaching Business English learners. Worksheets, Activity Sheets, Flashcards, digital music or radio recordings, company reports, financials, newspapers, magazines, etc. A lesson plan is a good way to outline the way the day’s teaching will flow, but it is a plan and as they say “plans were meant to be changed” which means that I will need to be flexible if I identify an opportunity to cover a topic that was not planned but arises with my students I need to be flexible enough to make that change.
Choice of Topics
Last, the themes used when teaching in the classroom are very important to allow for the business of communication which is what I am there to teach to my students. Therefore, I need to have a toolbox for teaching my students how to communicate effectively. Some of the most effective tools are case studies because you can pick from a large assortment that deal with different topics and use them to teach using actual real-world examples. Frameworking is also a critical tool. It teaches students how to use different tenses because it works from the past to the future and describes how they will get there.
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Problem-based learning allows me to facilitate and gives the responsibility to the students to solve the problem as a group. Also, games can be adapted to provide warm-up activities and learn new words. Computer-Aided Learning is critical given the advent of technology in the classroom and it allows students to access authentic materials and for me to improve lesson plans.
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