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C.L. - France said:
Business EnglishIntroduction Business English means different things to different people. For some, it applies only to specific vocabulary and topics used in the worlds of business, trade, finance, and/or any other specific business fields (i.e. medical/nautical/Marketing/Management/Human Resources/Tourism and so on?). For others it refers to the communication skills used in the workplace, and focuses on the language and skills needed for common business communication such as presentations, negotiations, meetings, small talk, socializing, correspondence, report writing, and so on. [1] In its first part, this paper will help clarify the boundaries between Business English and English for Specific Purposes. Finally, in the second part, this research paper will investigate the role of the teacher vs. the business people?s needs, course design and teaching models applied to Business English. I. Identify the boundaries between Business English and English for Specific Purposes. For some Business English (BE) only refers to the communication skills most commonly used in the workplace regardless of the industry sector, whereas English for Specific Purposes (ESP) refers to the specific vocabulary and topics used in specific business sectors. The first distinction to be noticed is that ESP is putting the emphasis on specific vocabulary/topics whereas BE is centred on general communication skills used in day-to-day business. Business English can be represented as follow: ? Language knowledge: grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation (generally included in General English courses) ? Business related Communication Skills (commonly used in the workplace and non-specific to any industrial sector) [2] [2] Language knowledge is what you know about the language. Communication skills are what you do with the language. In the representation of English for Specific Purposes we would expect the professional content (third layer) to be the majoring domain. (see below) Often, we are confronted to Business English courses which already address some specific professional context. For example: ?Business English in Marketing? or ?Business English in Accounting?, are often classified as BE. But, according to our distinction (previously stated) these are rather ESP courses specific to Accounting/Marketing rather. If Accounting/Finance/Marketing are considered as BE courses, are we confronted to an amalgam of BE and ESP? In my opinion, the main reason for the amalgam (BE/ESP) is due to the fact that Accounting is considered as a business function, in other words common to any industry sectors. Whereas in the classification below, non-EBP courses, refers to ESP course. In that respect, ESP courses are clustered into specific sectors rather than common business functions. Another distinction between Business English and ESP resides in the level of English of the learner. An ESP course is often considered as the next level in Business English knowledge. Indeed, to enrol ESP courses the students are required to have an English knowledge at B2 or C1 level; whereas Business English classes are usually accessible for all levels from level 1 (A1) to Level 4 (C1). To summarise: the fundamental differences between Business English and ESP courses is that BE only targets the student to be experienced in the common business functions. Whereas ESP aims: the student to be experienced in specific business sectors with at least an Intermediate level in General English. Refer to Appendices: i). BE: Example of Business English courses with detailed Syllabus. II. Investigate the role of the teacher, course design and teaching models applied to Business English. Most of the BE Syllabus requires skills in teaching business communication skills: telephone English, meetings, presentations, socializing, negotiating, attending conferences, writing proposals and documents, etc. In terms of course design: Business English courses were first designed to just include some special vocabulary rather than produce a balanced mix or Language knowledge and Business communication skills. During the 1980?s the development of company training programmes focusing on presentation techniques, negotiating and effective meeting & correspondence skills contributed to produce balanced BE courses. [4] In Terms of Teaching Materials/Methodology: Business English is ideal to use a mix of methodology like: PPP Model (presentation-practice-production) or PPT (Presentation Practice and Testing) where grammar & vocabulary are presented in context. Unfortunately since those methods are using a lot of controlled practice exercises; European schools/universities propose to use the ESA method (Engage-Study-Activate) which is designed to align the students? own fields of interest with the students? needs with a methodology which is mostly based on getting the student to communicate as much as possible.[4] In my opinion the ESA method is suitable both to GE (General English) and BE teaching. As far as materials are concerned, BE is the opportunity to use as many authentic materials as possible. The learners are able to relate better to authentic materials; in fact, BE teachers should encourage the learners to bring their authentic materials. In terms of teacher?s skills: Like the GE teacher, the BE teacher should be able to select adequate language items (course content and materials) both adapted to the level of the learners and to the learners? needs. The teacher should prepare lessons plans which include all four skills (reading/speaking/listening/writing). Nevertheless, some EFL resources state that BE teachers should be able to demonstrate a sound knowledge in business skills, preferably with a business background and should display a useful knowledge of the common business organisation: the way companies are organised and run.[4] Whereas other EFL resources believe that business knowledge or business experience is not a pre-requisite to teach English to business people because the EFL teacher is often teaching general English or some business content to pre-professional or business people.[5] Although the above statements seem contradictory, I believe that they should take into consideration both the level of Business English being taught and the Level of the learner. If the level of the learner in English is below intermediate (i.e. B1 still lacking vocabulary and lacking accuracy in expressing concepts or abstract topics.); then it seems difficult to foresee that this later will be able to bring up discussion about ?complex? business situations; in this case the second statement is true; the teacher does not need to be an expert in the field of business to explain business lexical items. i.e. Extract from [5] ?BE teacher should spend more time on this point to cultivate the basic skills for the learners and make the business meaning of the lexical components clear to the learners. For example, ?minute?, in GE, means ?one sixth part of an hour, equal to 60 seconds? indicating the time, however, it means ?a brief summary or record of what is said and decided at a meeting? in BE, absolutely different from the GE meaning.? On the other hand if the level of the learner is either upper-intermediate or above (i.e. C1 Effective Operational Proficiency or C2), the learner may expect from the BE teacher to discuss more ?complex? business scenarios or using more international business jargon which may unsettle a teacher who has never been exposed to international business jargon before. The experienced teacher will be able to take the student?s practical needs (hands-on examples) into consideration with more ease. In my opinion, teachers? business background is relevant to BE teachers teaching ESP. To summarise: Real-life situations is preferable in BE teaching, it helps the learners to be impregnated by BE language. The BE teacher should be open to various business scenarios and various business needs. Conclusion Based on the above review, we explained what is meant by Business English; an English language applied to business situations taught to business people. Additionally, we explored some statements about the preferable teaching methods and teaching skills to be applied to Business English. If we were to remember only one thing about BE, it should be that BE teaching should combine a balanced mix of English language and business real-life situations keeping in mind that it should be most adapted to the learners? needs. References [1] Wikipedia. Definition of Business English. [2] The Fundamentals of Business English Teaching, Pearson and Longman.com (Course Design: Business English vs General English 2009) [3] Example EBP and non-EBP extract of [4] On Differences between General English Teaching and Business English Teaching (2008) by Wenzhong Zhu and Fang Liao published by English Language Teaching [5] ITTT International Teacher TEFL Training course Unit 19 (Teaching special groups: Business English) Appendices i). BE: Examples of Business English courses with detailed Syllabus. Extract from: LCCIInternationalQualifications2010-11-CustomerGuideINTERIM_007 - English for Business (EfB) CEF A1 ? A2Syllabus Topics ? Basic office or place of work descriptions ? Basic jobs and roles in a work context ? Basic social language within a business context ? Basic work or business related instructions and directions ? Simple numerical information ? Standard business or work-related messages - English for Commerce (EfC) Level 1 CEF A2 ? B1 Level 2 CEF B1 ? B2 Level 3 CEF B2 ? C1 Level 4 CEF C1-C2 ? Composing a simple business letter or memo ? Basic business reading comprehension ? Business information processing ? Business text and data reformulation ? Business letters ? Company leaflets ? Business reports ? Business-related articles ? Lists and/or structured notes Memos Company notices ? Composing a business letter ? Drafting an internal company report ? Business-related text comprehension ? Business-related text and data conversion and reformulation ? Reading and comprehending an authentic text and producing a piece of business writing related to this text Writing business texts from given information ? Reformulating and reformatting texts from one text type to another ? specifically text to précis and digital/graphical/ numerical information to text ? Extending and producing completed texts in a range of contrasting genres To- Spoken English for Industry and Commerce (SEFIC) preliminary level (A1) Level 1 (A2) Level 2 (B1) Level 3 (B2) Level 4 (C1) ? Basic social language within a business context ? Basic jobs and roles in a work context ? Basic work or business related instructions and directions ? Basic office or place of work descriptions ? Basic numerical information ? Simple social language within a business context ? Simple jobs and roles in a work context ? Simple work or business related instructions and directions ? Simple office or place of work descriptions ? Simple numerical information ? Routine social language within a business context ? Routine jobs and roles in a work context ? Routine work or business related information, instructions and directions ? Routine office or place-of work problems ? Extensive social language within a business context ? Routine and non-routine jobs, roles and relationships in a work context ? Routine and non-routine work or business-related information, instructions and directions ? Additional work or business-related operations ? Unrestricted social language within a business context ? Diverse jobs, roles and relationships in a work context ? Diverse work or business related information ? Varied work or business related operations - English for Accounting (level 3) 1. Descriptions of people, roles and relationships in an accounting context 2. Descriptions of functions and actions (e.g. book keeping, auditing, advising) 3. Group descriptions (e.g. Work teams, personnel/business networks) 4. International rules and regulations (e.g. IFRS, UK & US GAAP) 5. Accounting statements, reports and documentation: Financial reports and statements (eg balance sheets, profit and loss statements, annual reports) Internal company documents (eg purchase orders, budget planning, cost control) Accounting software documentation Auditing documentation Book-keeping documentation International taxation documentation Corporate governance documentation 6. Correspondence 7. LCCI past papers.

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