Busy business professionals are likely to expect their course to get going quickly and for their teacher to have clear goals and objectives. Their expectations can come from other training they have received and a need to use their time very efficiently.
Wherever possible it is worth doing some research into your student’s company (where they have one). Some of this information may come directly from the student but often they are too busy at work to have much time to be in touch before their arrival. Consequently, we recommend that you find the company website and determine:
- the nature of the business in terms of products and services
- the organisation’s geographical spread
- the organisation’s history and plans for the future
This information will enable you to ask pertinent questions, look professionally prepared and gain insight into the student’s likely language needs.
Also it is important to attempt to get a good grasp of the student’s job role so that you can picture in more detail how they will be using their English. This helps you predict which language activities are likely to be relevant and motivating. Often there is a need to train students in social English so that they feel more confident and competent communicating with colleagues and customers internationally.
Try to prepare some relevant language activities in outline before they arrive as well as thinking about whether you have useful local contacts that you could introduce your student to during their course. For example, if the student is in sales or marketing try to find out who the international ‘business gurus’ are in these fields and use these individuals as topics that you can develop lessons around e.g.
- ranking ideas or innovations or discussing contributions to a particular field
- helping the student prepare for a presentation
- writing a brief report
- vocabulary development
- reading for information (websites etc)
- listening exercise (you can make a recording of yourself talking on the subject)
Local contacts in similar fields can add an extra dimension to the course and of course provide another source of listening practice and opportunities for focussed conversation.
Business English students may well want to squeeze every bit of learning out of their 1 or 2 week course so be prepared to give regular feedback on their performance and where required more work on accuracy than is usually appropriate for a general English course. They may also expect you to give them ‘homework’ that they can work on in the late afternoons or evenings. Homework could be:
- email practice (real email to you)
- grammar work
- Internet/article research for a future discussion
- vocabulary revision
- recording themselves
Use of the Internet is likely to be essential and a functioning voice recorder can be invaluable. A variety of published business English materials that you can dip into will enable you to adapt your course as necessary.
Business courses can be more intense than some other courses but students are often very highly motivated as their careers may well depend on their success in learning English.