Preparation TESOL TEFL

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E.H. - U.S.A. said:
Teaching Business EnglishIntroduction In this article I will discuss the process and challenges of teaching Business English. The next step in my TEFL education will be to complete the 50 hour self-study course on the same topic so it seems this is a fitting topic for me to give some thought to. The article will summarize some of the key points from this course and some of my thoughts on the topic based on my past experience. Background While I would like to gain some experience teaching all levels of students, both young learners and adults, I believe that I have the most of offer as a teacher if I eventually use my TEFL training to teach in a business setting. This is because I have 25 years of business experience in hospitality, retail and call center environments as well as a B.A. degree in English Literature and an M.A. degree in Adult Education with a focus in leadership development. For 5 years, I also owned my own leadership education business where I taught workshops and provided executive coaching. While I understand that the focus of teaching Business English is not to teach business skills, I believe that my background in business will help me to effectively assess needs, create learning plans and lessons and have a credible presence in the class room with all levels of business clients. Process The process of teaching business English can take place in three different settings: one to one learning, in an in-company group (on-site at the company) or in an in-school group (taught at a language school.) In each of these situations a needs assessment should to be completed by the teacher and the clients in order to understand what learning is desired and needed by the students. The assessment can be a questionnaire or perhaps an interview, in the case of an individual client. The response to the assessment provides the basis for creating the syllabus and accompanying lesson plans. When dealing with groups that may have a broad range of needs with some commonalities, it is advisable to conduct a needs negotiation with the group to prioritize the learning needs with their input and then propose the syllabus along with a timeline so that they know what to expect. In conjunction with the needs assessment, the teacher should also spend time educating herself about the company such as organizational structure, products, goals, marketplace presence and any other information that would be helpful to know. Shadowing the employees who will be in class would also give real insight into their need to speak English. Challenges The challenges for teaching Business English to adults are very similar to the challenges I have encountered teaching leadership and communication skills workshops for corporate groups in the past: lack of motivation, fatigue, group dynamics and attendance. ? Motivation: I have found that adults are more likely to be motivated to learn if they see what can be gained from the learning. Extrinsic motivation, particularly if it comes from their employer and is based on a potential negative outcome i.e. loss of job rarely works. Even if the employer is sponsoring mandatory learning, the teacher should spend some time at the beginning of the course eliciting other potential positive outcomes for the students and continue to reinforce those throughout the class. ? Fatigue: Unlike children, adults have much on their work and life itineraries and adding language learning to the mix can be a challenge particularly if it?s required after work. I have found that acknowledging and appreciating their work/life load and finding a meaningful way to transition from the work day to the class can be helpful. Perhaps during the engage phase, have students relate customer stories from the day or tell about something that happened in the office. If this became a regular routine, students would think about it in advance and probably want to talk about it. Also, keeping the pace of the class moving and encouraging as much student talk time as possible can enliven the group. Ultimately, the teacher will have to ?read? the dynamic of the group at the beginning of each class and be flexible to adjust the lesson plan. ? Group Dynamics: Prior to commencing a new course with a group, it is advisable to learn as much about the individuals and their relationship to one another. Do they work in the same department? What is the reporting relationship i.e. co-worker/peers or boss/employer? It is also helpful to know what?s happening at the company at any given time as they may affect the clients? attention spans and motivation. If you built trust with the group and show genuine interest in what?s happening, they will usually tell you. As mentioned before, this could be done during the engage phase and become part of the ongoing lesson plan. If dynamics between certain individuals become stressed, it would be a good idea to address it with them outside of class or consult someone at the company who can help. ? Attendance: If the class is being held at the company, it is easy for clients to be called out of class. If this happens frequently, it might be advisable to have assigned pairs of ?buddies? who agree to follow-up with their co-workers in the event they are called out and vice versa. They can at least explain what happened during the lesson and share any materials that were handed out. Time permitting the teacher could offer some 1 to 1 time with students who might need to catch up. Summary The process and challenges for teaching Business English align quite closely with that of adult learning theory and practice. There is obviously much more to be said on this topic than can be accomplished in 700 words! I look forward to learning more about the specific of teaching of Business English using the ESA method.