вторник, 24 февраля 2015 г.

How to design a winning Business English course: 5 tips and resources

If you're an English teacher and you teach Business English this post is for you! Today I'd like to share 5 tips and resources that will give you infinite ideas on teaching Business English to your students! Business English can be a fun class if you know what you are doing and where you're going. Otherwise it will be something in-between a General English course with a few, limited, Business English resources. 

Your limited resources don't necessarily have to reflect on your teaching. To conduct a superb Business English course, find several resources online and arrange them according to the length of the course, the level of your students, and the relevant topics. The length of the course will determine how many lessons you will have. The level of your students will determine the choice of materials. The topics, relevant to your audience will help you narrow down your range of themes to customize the course for your students. Here're 5 guidelines for you:

  1. Where to start? I recommend finding textbooks that will help you develop the backbone of your course - the syllabus. In fact, I believe when you have the syllabus you have 80% of your course completed. I suggest using Speak Business English Like an American by Amy Gillet because it has a very extensive range of topics that you might need in your course. Since customization is the way to go in today's language instruction, use the ideas that you find in her book (look through the table of contents or thumb through a few pages) to choose the range and the themes of lessons you will need.
  2. Writing a syllabus. A syllabus is an outline of a course of studies. You must have it to give your students (and yourself, most importantly) a sense of direction. Make it practical and easy to use. Arrange your lessons and your assignments in a form of a chart. Cut out all the unnecessary "policies and procedures", leave only the major things and include references for more reading. Design your syllabus in such a way that it covers the entire course agenda. 
  3. Choosing materials. There are a great gamut of free resources out there, and I appreciate English teachers for spending their extra time designing quality materials and putting them up for everyone to use. If the students are Pre-Intermediate I suggest using businessenglishmaterials.com developed by Sean Banville.  The site has activities for groups as well as for individual students. Every lesson has an MP3 version. Another great resource is Podcasts in English (PIE). This one will work great for Intermediate students who have good Listening Comprehension skills.   For Upper-Intermediate and Advanced students there's a wonderful resource called  http://www.businessenglishpod.com/. There's also a very affordable quality resource by George Sandford - Business English Phrasebook that I highly recommend.
  4. Learn more about the subject. There's nothing more annoying than an English teacher that teaches Business English and says that she knows nothing about Business. That's not a good situation. If you are not quite familiar with the subject go on mindtools to find practical explanation on very complicated business topics. Another good resource is Paul Emmerson's website that has not only simple explanations, but a wealth of ideas on how to teach Business English.
  5. Make your lessons applicable to life. How can you know that you students has learned Business English? The grasp of all the essential vocabulary is a good indicator (and you can find a number of great quizzes at the Business English Site), but the bottom line is: can your students use the tools of the course as they do business internationally? How practical is your course? Create a project at the end of the class that will summarize all that the students have learned. Here're some ideas on how this can be achieved. The ideas are developed by Leslie Opp-Beckman and Kay Westerfield who teach at the University of Oregon.
I hope these tips will help you create excellent Business English courses that will truly help your students master the language!

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