In class, just as in every other aspect of life, first impressions count. Whether you are working with just one student, or with a large group, the things that you do in your first lessons will set the mood for how the rest of your Business English course will proceed. Here are six things you can do in your first lessons to make a good impression and develop instant rapport with your new business English students.
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Get students talking about themselves
Chances are that in a business English course you’ll be dealing with adult learners who have experienced many things in their life. What’s more, they’ll probably be more than happy to talk about their lives with their new teacher and class mates. Make sure all you give all your students a chance to talk about their lives and their careers in these first lessons.
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Give students the opportunity to get to know each other
Getting to know you activities are a standard part of any new course of study, they are just as important in business in English as they are elsewhere. Try to plan similar activities to those that you would use in any other type of course. Remember, these people will probably be spending several weeks in each other’s company, so breaking the ice and giving them a chance to get to know one another is vital.
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Find out what your new students need
It’s a very good idea to conduct a needs analysis at the start of your business English course. Finding out the kind of ways they will be using English in their real lives will help you to plan suitable and appropriate activities in class. Will they be giving presentations to other business people? Are they expected to read and write reports in English? Will they have to meet people in conferences? Will they have regular contact with English speakers by phone? Learning the reasons why they will be using English in their business lives will help you conduct effective classes, avoid boredom and time spent on unnecessary work.
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Conduct a diagnostic test
Another thing you should prioritize at the start of a course is finding out the current level of English that your students have. If you have students that have been placed in your class but have a much higher or much lower level of English than the others, it will cause a great deal of frustration both for you and for them. Try to make your diagnostic testing as detailed as possible: make sure that you look at their skills in terms of speaking, writing, reading and listening, as well as their language ability. Refer back to your needs analysis to see if any of the students are particularly weak the areas that they will need most in their business lives.
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Do some pronunciation work
More than almost any other type of language learner, business English students have a direct, immediate need to use language in their everyday lives. What’s more, often their professional reputation will depend on their ability to use English well. Naturally, speaking is an important part of this. Doing activities that focus on pronunciation in your first lesson will show that you understand how important this is to your students and that you’re going to cater to their needs from this point on.
Give them some new language which that they can go way and use the same day
Having done a needs analysis and given a diagnostic test, you should have a pretty good idea of where your students are in terms of their English language ability. A nice way to show your new class that they’ll be benefiting from this course is to give them something that they don’t know already. If they need to speak on the phone regularly, why not give them some new ways of asking for information or saying thank you. If they need to make presentations, explain some alternative ways of describing graphs or charts. Make sure they take away a little something new from these first lessons.