Although teaching business English is in many ways similar to teaching any other kind of language course, there are certain important differences. In this teaching environment, you will be working with professional, career-minded individuals who have clear goals in mind and who are aiming to further their careers. Here are five things you should be aware of when you start teaching business English.
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1- Dress the part
Business English lessons take place in a variety of settings. You may give lessons in a regular classroom, in an informal setting such as a cafe, or even in an office at the students’ place of work. Regardless of where the lesson takes place, make sure that you dress appropriately. More often than not, your business students will be smartly-dressed adults, so dressing the part is very important for you. Adopting a professional style of dress will send a message to your students that you completely respect their situation and their goals. More importantly, it will indicate that you understand why they are studying English, and that you are the right person to help them with these goals.
2- Act like a colleague
In many situations, you’ll find that you are naturally given a high level of respect simply because you are a teacher. It’s assumed that you are an expert and have knowledge that the students don’t have; however, this is not necessarily the case in business English. In the workplace, people are expected to work together in order to accomplish goals. For this reason, approach your teaching as if you are on a level setting with your students. Put yourself in the position of a colleague and treat your students as equals. This is how you will gain their respect! Students will be more receptive to what you have to share and thus more willing to work with you in achieving their goals.
3-Work with your students in setting goals
You might find that you are given a set course book to work with. While this is a great starting point, as well as being something that you should use frequently in your lessons, perhaps more important is working with your students to find out what their particular goals are. Remember that these people are your clients and in the business world it’s very important to keep the clients happy. Take the time to review the contents of the book with your class. If there are things they regard as unimportant, agree to skip over these things. If they have other priorities, such as practicing giving presentations, learning the language of negotiation, or writing emails with the correct level of formality, decide together how to split your time between the book and these other goals.
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4- Set short and long-term goals
When setting goals with your students, think about what they need right away and what they can spend a longer period of time working towards. These goals should be clear: make them specifically measurable over a period of time. For instance, instead of saying ‘I want to improve my speaking’, a good goal would be ‘I want to be able to describe changes over time in graphs by this time next month’.
5- Make your self available in a limited capacity outside of class
I’m not suggesting that you give your students your private phone number and 24-hour access, but enabling them to get in touch with you outside of class in a limited way is definitely a good idea. Perhaps you could give them ‘office hours’ in which you will be able to respond to emails. If you are on a social media network and you feel comfortable doing so, consider letting them friend you. Such actions will show your commitment to them as students, and that you are seriously willing to help meet them meet their learning needs.