There are only around 400 million native English speakers worldwide, but English is the most popular language to study as a second or additional language. English is also an official language in over 60 countries and it is recognised as a lingua franca – a common language used to communicate by people who do not share the same first language.
English has been the common language for technology, trade, and all kinds of international business for decades. It doesn’t come as a surprise, then, that the demand for teachers of English as a foreign language (TEFL) continues to increase to meet the demands of international markets.
What is Business English, Exactly?
You might have heard of General English. That is the language that you learn in a standard English language course. It covers everyday topics, such as shopping, holidays, and the environment. It involves practising the four skills (reading. listening, speaking, writing), grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation.
Business English, on the other hand, covers business-related topics, from interviews to making phone calls, and vocabulary. In a Business English course, the lessons are tailor-made for the course participants. This keeps the learners more engaged and motivated, resulting in a faster learning process than that of their peers in General English courses.
While some aspects of the language, such as grammar, pronunciation, and the four skills are the same as in General English, the vocabulary and the register used in Business English are different. For example, there are typical expressions that are used in business that would not be used in other contexts. Learning this specific kind of language will enable the course participants to express themselves clearly, confidently, and in an appropriate manner at job interviews and work meetings, to be at ease with phone conversations, and to compose well-structured emails.
What are the Benefits of Speaking English in Business?
There are several advantages to being able to do business in English. It allows you to engage with international audiences and to expand your pool of potential customers/clients, staff, and suppliers.
Another benefit is that it allows smoother communication between all the parties involved. Additionally, English in business gives you and your business the edge needed in such a competitive and global market.
Let’s not forget the psychological factor. Knowing that you and your team have invested time and money in developing English language skills shows how professional and dedicated your company is.
How Do You Teach Business English?
When you start a course with a new class, the key to successful learning is understanding the needs and the objectives of your learners. In your first lesson, you should always start with some sort of needs analysis – you need to know what they need to learn.
Secondly, you should find out why they need to learn it. Do they need to communicate with clients or colleagues? Superiors or suppliers? Are they going to use English in verbal or written communication – or both?
You should also find out what their level is. It might even be a mixed-level group, but if you know it in advance, you can plan your lessons accordingly.
There are some other aspects to keep in mind when teaching Business English. These courses are often paid by the participants’ company. For this reason, you will need to keep records of attendance, participation, and progress to keep their supervisors up-to-date.
You are likely to be teaching at their premises, either in a meeting room or in their offices. Your attire should reflect the business setting you will be in.
Your working hours might be different from your typical 9-5. Business English courses are often run before or after office hours, so be prepared for an early start or late finish.
The learners will obviously be adult professionals. They will have a specific goal in mind and will be very motivated. They usually want to get on with it and avoid wasting time because they know that time is money.
Where Can You Teach Business English?
Most countries offer job opportunities as a Business English teacher. Usually, you’ll find more opportunities in big cities and urban areas. However, you don’t need to move abroad to teach Business English, now that online teaching has become the norm.
There are some requirements to teach English, either in-person or online. While a university degree is not always necessary, you will need a TEFL certification to be considered for the job. This is a must, because it shows that you are professional and reliable.
If you think that Business English is your niche, you could specialise in this area and attend additional courses. If your specialty is teaching English online, there’s a training course for that too. Whether you find your niche or not, continuing professional development in a way or another is always recommended in the education industry.
Are You Ready to Start?
Teaching Business English can be daunting at first, but understanding what your learners want is vital to develop an engaging and effective course.
You will find that teaching to professionals is interesting and rewarding – and you will end up learning a lot about different kinds of topics! Let their needs and their objectives help you shape your lessons and don’t forget to add a fun element; it’s easier to memorise new words while having fun.