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.

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