What is Business English? A naïve question to be sure, but a good one to step back and ask from time to time.
Below, in blue, is a nine-point answer to that question that I wrote along with my colleague Nick Hamilton back in 2000. It was going to be the Introduction to Five Minute Activities for Business English (CUP) but never made it into the book.
- You start with a Needs Analysis.
- The Needs Analysis leads on to a negotiated syllabus. There is no ‘main’ coursebook, although a selection of coursebook and other material may be used. The classroom tasks and texts are personalized, based around the interests and needs of those particular students.
- The syllabus is designed around communication skills (telephoning, meetings, presentations etc.) and business topics (management, marketing, finance etc.), not the English verb tense system.
- Language work is more lexical, including collocation and functional language, and less grammatical than General English. Pronunciation is another important area, especially the ability to break up speech into appropriate phrases (phonological chunking) and to use stress to highlight key information.
- Teaching methodology includes much use of tasks, role-plays, discussions, presentations, case studies and simulated real-life business situations. Approaches and materials are mixed and matched, but there is unlikely to be a high proportion of conventional Present-Practice lessons where one grammar point provides the main thread of a lesson.
- Much language work is done diagnostically following speaking activities. Feedback slots are used for checking, correcting and developing language (Output->Reformulate rather than Input->Practice).
- There is use of a range of authentic and business material (magazine articles, off-air video, company documents).
- Delivery of the course is different: the students are ‘clients’ with high expectations, the teachers are professional ‘trainers’ (or perhaps even Language Consultants). Teachers and students sit together round a table like in a meeting rather than in the classic GE ‘U’ shape with the teacher at the front. Conversation across the table may develop its own dynamic far removed from the teacher’s lesson plan.
- While teachers are expected to be competent as Language Consultants, classroom managers etc. they are usually not expected to be business experts. This is a language course after all, not an MBA. However teachers are expected to have an interest in business, ask intelligent questions, and slowly develop their knowledge of the business world.
- – To continue reading this awesome article and discussion, please visit the original link here: http://bebcblog.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/what-is-business-english-2/