Published 4th November 2015


At some point in your TEFL career you will probably be approached to teach English for Specific Purposes – whatever that specific purpose may be. More and more, people are needing to learn English to fulfil a certain obligation or complete a particular task, so they will need to learn a very specific English. Maybe they need to make a speech or be able to discuss health symptoms with patients or email customers about orders. Whatever the case may be, often there is a need for an EFL student to spend time on specialised language rather than take a General English course.

One of these options which is very popular is Business English. Teaching Business English is fine if you have experience in the business world, but can seem very daunting if you have never been exposed to that working environment. It’s not impossible, though, and getting your head around teaching Business English is a definite way to make yourself marketable as a TEFL teacher and a valuable asset to any school. So if you think you might need to teach Business English at any time in your career, here are a few things to remember:

You can still have fun

Just because student is in a suit, doesn’t mean they always need to be serious. While businesspeople are more likely to take their lessons seriously because they have a definite need for the lessons, they are still likely to do better if they enjoy their lessons. Business English doesn’t mean Boring English, so make sure you approach these lessons as you would any others.

A student is a student is a student

At the same time, remember that Business English students are the same as any other EFL students. They learn the same way and will have the same problems. Don’t expect them to be better than General English students simply because they dress more formally. The only difference is they may be under more pressure than usual because they need English for their work.

Don’t be afraid to work hard

Having said that, though, Business English students will probably expect the lessons to involve hard work and concentration. They will have high levels of motivation so they will be ready and willing to do whatever you ask them in order to accomplish their goal. Don’t be afraid to give them homework or extra activities, though whether or not they have time to do them is another story.

Do your homework

Lastly, make sure you are comfortable with Business English in terms of language. There are many great Business English coursebooks out there which explain the language which is useful for business situations. This will include general functions and structures, but will also involve looking at levels of formality, courtesy and convention.

Teaching Business English can be an interesting experience for a TEFL teacher. One of the joys of being a TEFL teacher is the fact that you are able to experience a range of different teaching situations; make sure you are prepared and you’re sure to enjoy it.