Many of you are familiar with the concept of teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL). But when it comes to teaching business English, most of the TEFL teachers tend to intimidate because they think business English is something similar to business subjects and they cannot teach to adult professionals because of having a little to no experience in this area. In fact, this field of TEFL in not that much scary but incredibly rewarding.
One of the most common concerns of teachers is about the required qualification and they think that a business degree is needed to adopt this career. Be sure that the TEFL certificate you earned after a lot of hard work makes you the best fit for teaching English to already successful business people and professionals in a business-like setting. This certificate has provided you with all the skills and expertise to interact with foreign students and to teach English not matter your students are adults, teen or kids.
There is a rising demand for English teachers in the business world, and a person who is fluent in this language can easily fill this demand. Business people want to learn and improve their English due to following many reasons:
- They want to learn a language which is most widely used in the corporate and professional world around the globe.
- They want to master the art of effective communication and collaboration with their colleagues.
- To become better at writing their resume in a professional manner.
- To write business reports.
- To improve their presentation skills.
- For conducting meetings in the English language.
- For communicating with the clients professionally and to learn negotiation skills.
- To become better at giving job interviews, to impress the recruiters with their fluency in English and so on…
Have you noticed that there is nothing like business studies in the above requirements of business English students? Qualification in business is something they already have and all they need from you is to teach them the effective use of this international language in the professional environment. The only difference is that your teaching will be geared towards making professional use of this language in the corporate world instead of everyday conversational English. Once you adapt yourself to this profession, you’ll find that it is a more fulfilling job as you will not have to deal with sleepy teenagers or hyperactive kids who have no idea why they are even in the class and most of them have a purpose of escape. Business professionals, on the other hand, are highly motivated towards achieving their goals and objectives. You’ll find them more attentive in the class, more cooperative and not much struggle will be required to get along with them. Also, business English teachers enjoy many other perks in the form of higher salaries and smaller classes.
Following pieces of advice will help you to conduct more lively, interactive and productive classes while teaching English to professionals in a serious business setting.
Try to Know Your Students’ Expectations
No doubt, knowing your student’s language is extremely important no matter what type of class you are taking but in the case of business students, they tend to have some very specific goals which they want to achieve through your course. While sometimes, you can apply the generic teaching model in kids’ class, no such strategy turns out to be useful in the class of adult professionals. So, it is always recommended to clearly identify their purpose of being there and then plan accordingly. Be aware that a person who takes English language course just to brush up his fluency in English have entirely different needs and expectations than those who want to win international clients and to earn higher profits.
Some common examples of expectations of professional learner include; becoming good at negotiation, presentation, interviews or to connect with international clients and to earn more money. Once you get an idea of their goals, you will be in a better position to craft a lesson plan that suits their needs.
Conduct A Need Analysis
The best way to find more about their preferences is to conduct an interactive need analysis session in the start of your course to ask them why they decided to learn business English and what they want to achieve in the end? You can note all the important point during the session. This two-way communication will help to develop a friendly relationship between you and your students and they will truly value and appreciate your efforts in this regard.
This was all about the theory of finding your student expectations but how to practically use this strategy for planning customized lessons? Think of this way that after conducting an introductory session, you came to know that many of your students are not good at business presentation and they want to improve this skill. Later, you can include more presentation-based activities in the lesson plan and ask them to prepare and present business presentations on the topics of their choice. This technique will provide a dual benefit. On one hand, they will be improving their business English vocabulary and grammar and on the other hand, their presentation skills will also improve during the course.
Try to Keep the Energy Levels High and Be Professional
When we teach a class of kids, we get suggestions like try to look friendly and attractive and wearing casual dresses is also not that of a big deal. But in the case of Business English class, all learning takes place in a serious business-like setting and it is important to choose business attire in such classes. Your professionalism must reflect through your way of talking, dealing, punctuality and commitment. Try to avoid using conversational vocabulary words and replace them professional terminologies. Another favor you can do to yourself is to market yourself properly by getting a business card saying, ‘Business English consultant’. This kind of approach will make the students think that this is SERIOUS BUSINESS for you.
Unlike children, who even get motivated upon finding the class activity interesting, the adults need you to motivate and encourage them for performing well. Use a few minutes for Student Talking Time (SST) in class to maintain a certain level of entertainment for the adult learners. Plan your lesson in a way that activities which include extensive reading and writing can be assigned as homework while trying to keep the class interactive by using an engaging lesson.
Selection of Appropriate Material
In a typical English learning classroom, the teacher brings his own material and lesson plan in the form of books, notes, and online resources. But when it comes to teaching business English, you need to change your material selection and type of resources you use. The most important resource in a business English class are the students themselves. You may not have an idea of the type of corporation they work with, but they can provide you with a part of their working lives in the firm of company reports, presentations, leaflets or emails and they might expect you to use a part of this material in your lesson planning. It is not like that they are trying to influence and change your perception but a way to meet their goals and objectives. Try to figure out why these resources are important to the learners how you can use them to meet learners' expectations.
Try to Create Real-Life and Authentic Situations
In a class of business English learners, you will be facing an audience with some clear objectives and it is definitely not a good idea to use the same activities that you once used in the children class. The adult learners are only influenced by the real-life and meaningful situations which clearly seem to end in the form of goal achievement. So, try to include activities targeted towards their professional development having a clear purpose. Once you learn to manage the individual differences of your target audience, you find it much easier to behave and teach professionally.
Learn to Anticipate Routine Issues and Be Flexible
You need to understand the fact that unlike kids, adult students have other jobs to do. So, you can expect them to cancel out and reschedule a class even at the last minute. This can be frustrating especially when you lack a flexible personality. It is important to anticipate the unforeseen and to understand your students’ perspective. After all, they all have to fulfill their professional responsibilities and their work is the first priority for them. However, you can avoid this type of experience by negotiating a cancelation agreement with your students to make sure you’ll be informed at least 24 hours before any such request.
These tips and advice will help to teach business English at a more productive level and you'll also find a significant improvement in the results.