Teaching business not Business English

I must say that the idea of this experiment was inspired by Michael Griffin and his wonderful post.

I thought about my Business English students who actually are far from being interested in business. I teach them Business English because their company thinks it’s more useful for them than a general course. So I’ve decided to try teaching business not Business English instead of teaching Business English adapting it to more familiar situations.

Firstly, it is really difficult to get rid of the usual CELTA-way templates as they seem to be not completely suitable for my aims.

What are my aims?

I want to inspire and make my students interested in Business and teach them/ elicit/ help to find out/encourage to look for… business ideas/phenomena/ laws. I want them to understand business world better and be able to talk about it in English.

Isn’t it something natural what we really need Business English for?

Till the moment I read the post I used to think that my goal was to teach students some business language and they will find an opportunity in their business life to really use this language. I mean, not in classroom conditions. But having reflected about it I understood that my students hardly ever use Business English at work, they just need General English to talk to their German colleagues. That is the reason why they are not interested in the situations offered by the authors of the book. Moreover, Business English coursebooks try to provide varied topics so that students from totally different departments could discuss something together, but, actually, they can’t, because they hardly have an idea even in their mother tongue what the hell this outsourcing (or anything else) is necessary for and why they need to know it.

Another thought is that if we imagine some native speakers discussing something at their workplace or in any business situation we will get the right picture of what we want our students to be able to speak about or understand. So we might try to aim at creating such conditions in our classrooms which are similar to it not only in case studies and activities.

I am not saying that Business English coursebooks are useless. Far from that! The authors usually do their best to make the tasks as close to real life as possible and they succeed in it. I like the tasks, but I would just shift the accent from teaching language to trying to understand concepts using the language (they need the language to be able to express themselves correctly).

That’s how I came to the idea that I can provide my students with some information on different topics including necessary language to enable them to speak about that. Am I not too unexperienced in business to ‘teach’ them business? I think it doesn’t matter. I think authors of many course books are not considerably much experienced in running a business. What’s more, I doubt it that they write all the articles themselves. I have the Internet with unmeasurable amount of relevant and just thought-provoking information to find necessary material. I came to an idea that even material given in a coursebook may be used differently so that it teaches Business, not only Business language.

As you can see, I don’t have a clear idea of what everything should look like, but I feel that the way it goes isn’t the best way for my students. Or maybe they just don’t need this Business English and people who choose such a course themselves (not their HR) are more motivated to learn Business vocab and don’t get bored with it? Am I just making a mess because my students didn’t have a choice?

I just feel that for this very group something could be changed to make them interested, motivated and more knowledgeable in Business English. It’s kind of strange that I have to fit business language in everyday situations to practice it because my students don’t know what to say in a business situation and brainstorming sounds like silence.

As you can see I haven’t devised a win-plan yet. I actually don’t even have a clear idea what it all should look like. I just want to try going the way of trial and error to see what outcomes I may get. I’ll write a kind of report with my observations and conclusions in some time.


Saying goodbye to your students. Is it better for students to have a new teacher?

Some days ago I said goodbye to one of my groups. We agreed to have tea during the last lesson. I planned some relaxed speaking activities and students brought a cake. Before the lesson I had been thinking about some kind of present for my students since I wanted to leave them with something pleasant. In my view, some material things are not appropriate in such a situation, so I came up with an idea to write some wishes and motivating words for them and made it look more or less presentable.


My motivating words for my students

My motivating words for my students

This is what my 'presents' looked like.

This is what my ‘presents’ looked like.

What do you leave your students with? What do you prepare for last lessons?

There is also a profound question of carrying on with the same group. I have recently been convinced that students should be taught by different teachers since they have different styles of teaching and their pronunciation varies that leads to improving students’ ability do understand. I have never thought of that before my DoS pointed it out to me. After that I became interested to look deeper into the topic.

When students have one and the same teacher

Thinking positively we may suppose that students feel less stressed with a person they are used to and therefore they are more eager to take risks and use some difficult language without being afraid of producing bad impression.

The teacher knows students’ strengths and weaknesses and may effectively make assumptions and anticipate problems.

The teacher knows which techniques work better with the students and which of them students dislike. Therefore lessons may be planned more effectively and students may achieve higher results.

At the same time the teacher has to come up with new ideas and activities which have never been used with the group because students might get bored with one and the same usual tasks.

When teachers are covered by others and change after each course

As it was already said, students don’t get used to one and the same accent and may have less difficulties in understanding other people. This issue alone seems to be able to outweigh some others.

Students see different styles of teaching and maybe even polar personality types. In some time students may figure out what kind of teaching style and what kind of teacher is better for them, so they may be able to give feedback to their teacher saying what works best for them, I mean, kind of moulding a teacher to their learning needs. Does this idea sound stupid to you? I am not sure that it may happen like this, but my gut feeling says that diverse ways of teaching (I’m not speaking about frameworks and approaches here, but teacher’s behavior) do students good.

There might be a point of motivation to produce a good impression on a new teacher, but I’d rather say it may influence more accuracy than fluency and risk-taking (that doesn’t mean that students’ striving to sound more accurate isn’t important!).

Some students may tend to do more homework with a new teacher. Or just do it)

A new teacher also wants to produce a better impression and get on with students, so they might want to find some outstanding activities. Also a new teacher won’t think that students may excuse something like being badly prepared, not knowing a word, being boring, being late or other things a teacher may allow themselves relying on their good image.

I have some other ideas as well, but I don’t want this post be very long. I’m also more interested in reading your point of view? Which side would you take?

Let me know the reasons of your answer. May be you have some other crucial issues in mind which I have missed.