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Business English Introduction Non-English speakers
Introduction Non-English speakers pursue an education in English for a variety of reasons, professional or personal, but it could be argued that the majority of these students are doing it for one reason: to give them an advantage in the world of business. Rather that be as a fruit vendor, a hotel clerk or an international businessman, these students all understand the importance in this day and age of a good command of the English language to get ahead in the workaday world.
This paper will highlight two methodologies that are invaluable for teaching those aspiring English-speaking professionals some essential language skills of the modern-day workplace: authentic materials, and case studies.
Authentic Business Transcripts
Volumes have been written about Business English and how to teach it, but English for business is a real and living language, so the use of authentic and current material: newspapers, magazines, trade journals, sources from the Internet, leaflets, brochures, company information, radio, TV and company videos should not be overlooked or underestimated.. With the growth of the World Wide Web and the push for greater transparency, it is now possible to find transcripts of real meetings and presentations on the Internet. Typing meeting or presentation transcripts into Google will find several transcripts with ease. Such transcripts of authentic interaction are thus easily accessible and usable for classroom materials. A text book can be used for background material, while the authentic material is an ideal supplement and source of up to date information.
There is a vast pool of authentic material at the teacher's disposal these days, but the fact that we are talking about authentic interaction does not instantly make the materials more interesting or effective. The challenge for the teacher will be finding the material that will foster interest and interaction in the classroom, while adhering to the class's subject matter and proficiency level.
Case studies are extremely rich in content and can provide the student with the potential to consolidate already acquired knowledge and train specific language and managerial skills. Case studies can be used to improve the student's written and oral communication. Non- verbal communication skills are also practiced by using case studies.
For teaching managerial communication skills such as holding a meeting, negotiating a contract, giving a presentation etc., case studies are ideal for putting students into real-life situations that require them to get involved in managerial communication, while also encouraging their collaborative learning and team-working skills.
Language teachers inexperienced in the use of the case study method may be intimidated by the content-based nature of the case study and therefore shy away from using case studies in class. However, the main aim of the language teacher is not to teach content but rather improve the student's communicative competence and oral proficiency, so the teacher doesn't necessarily need an in-depth knowledge of the information being presented. The Internet is a great place to find suitable case studies which are not too content-led and do not presuppose an in-depth knowledge of a specific subject matter. Case studies written by language teachers and adapted to the language classroom can be found, and are more appropriate than case studies written by business lecturers.
Conclusion Some business English teachers may find it hard to decide what points are most important for that big step into the real world. There is probably nothing more reflective of that real world than the authentic business transcripts that are currently available. As the world market becomes smaller and more interdependent, it is imperative that the instructor bear in mind that some of his or her students may someday have to work for a foreign or International Joint Venture firm. This means not only instructing the students on how to improve their foreign business language skills, but also developing critical thinking and reflective learning, while helping them come to terms with cultural differences and business styles that can help them get ahead.
This is not to suggest that current text books should be abandoned, but rather augmented by the use of authentic materials that provide contact with 'real' business language in use. This will help equip students with key lexis, expressions, listening skills and so on that can be employed in professional situations where English is used.
1.Using Authentic Business Transcripts in the ESL Classroom Jonathan Clifton email@example.com University of Antwerp, (Antwerp, Belgium)
2.Methodology for Using Case Studies in the Business English Language Classroom Peter Daly http://iteslj.org firstname.lastname@example.org EDHEC Business School (Lille - Nice, France)
3.Teaching Tips for ESL University Business English Instructors William Brooks http://iteslj.org brooks@ spice.or.jp Nagoya University of Foreign Studies (Nagoya, Japan)
5.Internet TESL Journal, http://iteslj.org