Can you teach Business English when you’re not a specialist?

pearson teach business english

Teaching business professionals can be a scary experience, especially for new teachers. They are busy people and expect to see results in a short amount of time.

What’s more, as experts in their fields, there’s a good chance they’ll know a whole lot more about business than you – which can make teaching them work related skills or vocabulary daunting.

So, can you teach Business English when you’re not a specialist?

We asked a number of leading ELT experts and here’s what they said.

Margaret O’Keefe

Yes, absolutely! The business specialists are my students in companies. My role is to help them improve their language skills so they can use English confidently and effectively at work.

I’m naturally curious and love learning about their jobs and their businesses – it’s such a privilege. And let’s not forget that many university students also need business English to prepare for their future careers.

A course like Pearson’s new Business Partner series gives you a wealth of topical, engaging content which is accessible to experienced and inexperienced teachers alike.

Margaret has been teaching business English in companies and to university students for more years than she cares to admit. She is co-author of several coursebooks including Business Partner, Market Leader Advanced and English for International Tourism.

Iwonna Dubicka

A Business English teacher should be an expert in teaching language and communication skills. Rather than having in-depth knowledge in business, they need to have an enthusiasm for a broad range of business topics.

If you are teaching Upper Intermediate or Advanced students they will often be familiar with work-related lexis and will be more interested in increasing their fluency, and improving their language and communication skills in preparation for an upcoming meeting or presentation.

However, a Pre-intermediate student who doesn’t often use English at work probably won’t be so familiar with the English vocabulary and functional language required in their field, so some background knowledge is certainly an advantage. Fortunately, a Business English course, such as Business Partner, provides teachers support with specific vocabulary on a range of business topics as well as engaging activities for all levels.

If you’d like to hear more from Iwonna on the theme of Business English, don’t miss her talk at this year’s IATEFL conference.

Her session titled ‘Business English: organic skills marinated in objectives served with vocabulary’ will take place on Friday 13th April at 10:20 in Auditorium 2. For more information visit our dedicated IATEFL page.

Iwonna has over 25 years’ experience as a Business English trainer in Barcelona. She’s the co-author of various Business English titles including Business Partner, Market Leader Advanced and English for International Tourism.

Mike Hogan

I found course books to be a massive help as they not only helped me with content and structure for my lessons, but also proved to be a great source of content for me to learn more about business.

Business Partner has been designed and written with the pre-experience learner in mind, so it’s perfect for those wanting to learn not only business English, but about business itself. It extends in scope and content beyond language and addresses key interpersonal communication skills and business skills that are essential in today’s business world. It’ll help both students and the teachers working with it, including those who may feel they need to brush up on their own business knowledge.

Mike is a business communication trainer and coach. He’s also co-author of Business Partner and a regular keynote speaker at international conferences. 

Laurence Delacroix

Business English teachers and trainers are primarily language teachers who also need to teach business content and business skills. Although a challenge, this need not be overwhelming with good material that offers the right support.

When you walk into a classroom and you feel that your students may know more about the business topic of the lesson than you do (due to the nature of their studies or their jobs), this is not a good feeling! But a Business English teacher, as a language and skills specialist, can turn this into a huge advantage with material that is easy to teach, reflecting the real world of work, and has information on the topic taught – and the new Pearson course Business Partner delivers just that.

Laurence Delacroix is the portfolio manager for Business English at Pearson.

Business Partner helps learners develop functional language and communication skills while working on soft skills such as influencing, negotiation and active listening.

It offers core business topics, real-life case studies, authentic videos, skills training, a variety of accents and a flexible, modular approach to language learning.

For more information about Business Partner, visit the website or contact a local sales representative to order a sample.

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