Monthly Archives: January 2012

A Great Post on Defining A Business English Program

Author Paul Emmerson reflects on in-work and pre-experience Business English.

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.

  1. You start with a Needs Analysis.
  2. 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.
  3. The syllabus is designed around communication skills (telephoning, meetings, presentations etc.) and business topics (management, marketing, finance etc.), not the English verb tense system.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. There is use of a range of authentic and business material (magazine articles, off-air video, company documents).
  8. 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.
  9. 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.                                       
  10.  – To continue reading this awesome article and discussion, please visit the original link here:

CBC Marketplace Looks at Canada’s Worst Customer Service

Long checkout lines, difficult-to-find salespeople, and unfriendly customer service rank among Canadians’ biggest pet peeves when it comes to retail service, according to a poll done for CBC Marketplace.
The show, which begins its new season on Jan. 6 with a one-hour special, asked Canadians about their experiences — both positive and negative — with customer service in national retail chain stores, including: department and big box general merchandise stores; electronic stores; major fashion stores; furniture and furnishing stores; health and beauty/drug stores; and home improvement stores.
The poll didn’t survey people on their attitude towards banks, cable companies, cell phone/internet service, airlines, utilities, grocery/food services, restaurants, or automotive dealers/service.
Canadians’ biggest pet peeves in terms of bad customer service in the store include (figures indicate percentage of times each answer was among respondents’ top three):

  • Long lineups at checkout (42%).
  • Difficulty finding salespeople in the store (39%).
  • Rude/unfriendly salespeople (33%).
  • Salespeople who ignore you (24%).
  • Difficulty finding out how much products cost (23%).

Canadians also had some main gripes when it came to their post-purchase customer service experience. Those complaints included having to fight too hard to resolve issues, which was a top-three complaint for 51 per cent of respondents. A return policy that was limited to in-store credits — no cash refund — was a top-three complaint for 49 per cent of respondents, while a return policy with hidden limitations was cited by 47 per cent in their top three.
Asked to rank their top three most-important elements of in-store customer service, 54 per cent said clearly priced products, while 48 per cent said having advertised products in stock. Almost half — 48 per cent — said fast service at checkout lines was among their top three.
The results are based on an online survey conducted by Leger Marketing between July 19 and July 24, 2011. A total of 1,025 Canadians answered the survey.
View original CBC Marketplace link here: