Not long ago we shared some ideas about teaching Business English. Today, we’re going to show you how to keep things real for them. By ‘real,’ we mean making connections between the lesson and their actual work or business needs. We’ll tell you how you can use a graded lesson flow to build the learner up from where they are to where they would like to be.
1. Target Language
First, begin with an introduction to the target language for the setting. This means a set of words for the context. It can be single words, phrases, or expressions. Target language also includes grammar forms.
1.1. Continue with Language Needed
Don’t stop at what you think or what the book shows. Ask your class members what language they use, or what language they need to use in the same setting. Then, incorporate it into your lesson.
2. Example Scenarios
Next, you’ll want to bring them into the situation they encounter. Begin with a general sample of a setting they may be exposed to that includes fixed content and dialogue. For business or marketplace English clients that could be anything like job interviews, meetings, presentations, socializing, negotiating, and the like. The idea here is to warm them up to the language they’ll be using.
3. Specific Setting
Now, it’s time to bring your learners to situations that are specific and relevant for them. After practicing with general context, facilitate a more definite use of the target language. Take the material you used in the previous step and replace the names, places, scenarios, figures, and wording with their own ideas.
This allows them to control learning as they’re able to make the exercise real for themselves. Of course, this works easier with singles or smaller classes than it does with larger classes. But, whether a single, small, or large class, you can still use this as a pattern.
After the specific-setting exercise, offer class members vocabulary ideas, grammar points, and or pronunciation tips. This helps weed out any unwanted language that would prevent free-flow of communication for your business English learners within the exchanges they might normally take part in.
4.1. And Repeat
If time permits and you deem it necessary, repeat the activity. Hey, who says everybody gets it perfect the first time? A little repetition never hurts anybody to develop their English skills. As they say, practice makes perfect. Maybe after the second time around, students will have more confidence. Plus, it allows them the opportunity to incorporate the corrections you just gave them.
Yes, you can assign homework if they’re agreeable to it. But, don’t assume they have time for any. Sharing what they can do if they have the time is a polite way of suggesting homework. Another way to do this is by asking students to practice the current language in their interactions.
5.1. Homework Check
In your next meeting, review the previous material. Then, check learner homework. If you feel it necessary, after reviewing and checking, give it one more go before moving on to the next topic. This also gives you and the learner an opportunity to evaluate actual uses and make adjustments if need be.
Putting It All Together
Okay, so we showed you five ways to keep things real for your business English learners. Now, let’s put it all together. This will help you walk away with a better idea of how this works.
1. Target Language
Let’s use the example of a small group of business English students. Today’s lesson is on leading meetings. It’s something many of your class members might be familiar with. So, perhaps in one lesson you focus on one aspect of a meeting – ‘beginning’ a meeting.
Here you might go over the language (vocabulary, grammar, and expressions) that could be used to welcome everyone, check audio quality (if online), present the purpose of the meeting, and outline the agenda.
2. Example Scenario
Next, practice with a light run of an example meeting. Have class members take turns going through a dialogue for the situation. Then, provide a purpose and agenda of an example meeting. Now, ask students to practice with each other but without the dialogue. This challenges them to put everything together. And, it warms them up to the next step.
3. Specific Setting
Now, you’ll want to ask them for specifics. Ask them for a meeting purpose they might have. But please, no company secrets! Then ask them for three points for the agenda. You can even ask for names of people they might be speaking to. Then, their classmates can be the people in the meeting.
Suggestion: Rather than memorize a list of new language, tell class members they can use what they already know, or something they picked up from the target language. This helps avoid cognitive overload in learners (and teachers) who believe they must memorize all of the target language.
Go over where students can make improvements. Perhaps, for example, one is mixing the expression, “on the other hand’ with “on the other side.” Here, you can gently explain that “on the other hand” is more common and natural.
You can ask them now to integrate what they’ve learned into their next meeting. By way of feedback, ask them to share what happened in the next class. Sharing is a great way for members to learn from each other.
Lastly, continue working through a meeting in stages until you’re able to complete the meeting. Each aspect of a meeting has its own language and elements that your learners can work with to improve their skills. So, today was starting a meeting; next lesson is discussing proposals. And the third lesson is ending the meeting.
What we’ve shared may sound fairly basic. But, you’d be surprised how often we can forget the fundamentals of a lesson. Perhaps we want to emphasize the bells and whistles like the audio or visual aids. However, we should remember that one of the characteristics of business English learners is that they’re focused. As such, the niceties aren’t as urgent as the practicalities. What we’ve shared with you today takes them in steps from where they are to where they want to be.
To learn more about teaching business English lessons, contact us today.