If you are somehow involved in any form of business, you’ll probably already know that, with over 1.35 billion English-speaking people worldwide, English is the lingua franca in most international trade, tourism, technology, and business situations. Furthermore, it is the most studied second language in the world. As a result, mastering more than one language, especially English, is a necessary skill in today’s world.
There is no doubt that fluent communication in English can have a positive effect on a company’s business. For this reason, an increasing number of international companies are focusing on English language development training for their staff. This has had a major impact on the English teaching industry, where the niche of Business English has become more and more popular.
English in your business place
If you can’t quite pin-point the advantages that an English-speaking team would bring to the table, take a look:
- Being able to speak English in the workplace will enable your team to reach a wider audience beyond the national market
- It promotes smooth communication among the parties involved and reduces the chances of misunderstandings, which could be detrimental for the business transaction
- It facilitates rapport-building with international clients and suppliers, which reinforces trust and consolidates the business relationship between the parties involved
- It gives your team the confidence to communicate effectively and efficiently, while it reassures clients that their needs and requests will be understood and met
- It gives credibility to you and your business, showing that your company’s focus on development goes above and beyond what is expected.
The growing popularity of Business English
Standard English courses teach General English, which is the language that is used on a regular basis, and covers most aspects of our lives: at home, with friends, on holiday, on the news etc.
When it comes to dealing with business situations, like meetings and presentations, negotiations and promotion, the kind of language required goes beyond the scope of General English. Therefore, Business English (BE) courses have been specifically designed for individuals who need to use their English language skills almost exclusively in the workplace.
There are many similarities between Business English and General English. For example, certain aspects of the language, such as grammar and pronunciation, are the same, and so are the skills required for reading, speaking, listening, and writing. However, the vocabulary and idiomatic expressions, as well as the formality of the language used are very different.
As communication is key for successful business, Business English courses are specifically tailor-made to suit their participants. This means that a teacher of a Business English course should start by assessing the needs of the learners and design lessons that would cater for those needs.
Before or as the course starts, the teacher should be aware of what field their learners work in and what role they have. This is important to understand what skills they need to focus on (e.g. speaking or writing) and what specific vocabulary they might need to learn. Furthermore, this information would allow teachers to implement the use of authentic materials, such as articles, interviews, reports etc, to keep the lessons engaging and relevant.
What teaching Business English entails
As a prospective Business English teacher, there are some aspects that you should consider.
First of all, you should be aware of the fact that Business English courses are usually funded by the participants’ company. Therefore, you are likely to be required to write and submit evaluation reports for each learner, so that their employer is kept up-to-date on their progress.
Your lessons are likely to take place on the company’s premises, either in a meeting room or an office. Remember to take into account your commuting time when you schedule your lessons before and after. Keep also in mind that your attire should reflect the environment you are in, so office outfits would be ideal.
Your lessons might not occur within the usual 9-5 timeframe. As your learners are adult professionals, they might be attending classes before or after their working hours – expect an early start or late finish.
Business English teaching opportunities
Teachers specialising in Business English are in high demand, therefore you should be able to find a suitable role in most countries or online, if you prefer. Generally speaking, BE teachers are sought-after especially in countries that have a strong economy. More specifically, large cities offer a wider range of opportunities for BE teachers than small urban or rural areas.
In order to become a Business English teacher, while it is desirable, a university degree is not necessary. Instead, you will require a TEFL qualification. ‘What is a TEFL certification?’ you might ask. You can obtain a TEFL certificate upon completion of a TEFL course, which prepares you for your new life as an English teacher.
In this course, you will acquire the foundation to teach English as a foreign language. You will work on several aspects of your role, such as:
- lesson planning
- materials creation and adaptation
- classroom management
- language awareness (grammar and vocabulary)
- phonology and pronunciation
- teaching skills (reading, listening, speaking, writing)
- understanding your learners’ needs
Last but not least, you will work on and improve your classroom persona, and you will be guided in developing a strong rapport with your learners.
Once you have gained some experience as a General English teacher, and if you want to specialise in a niche area, like Business English, teaching young learners, online teaching, exam preparation classes and so on, you might want to consider a specialisation course.
The importance of Business English
While being able to speak English in your work environment is fundamental for the success of your business, Business English can be a viable form of business in itself.
Being in high demand, Business English teachers are able to work with different clients, helping them develop their English language skills required in their field. As a BE teacher, you could work online or in-person, but you will need a TEFL qualification to give you the necessary knowledge and confidence to stand in front of a class of eager adult learners.