Can Only Businessmen Teach Business English?

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As you probably know by now, there are many different situations you could find yourself teaching in if you are a TEFL teacher. You might choose to teach English as a foreign language to specific age group (kindergarten or teens or adults) or your school might ask you to teach a specific class on top of your usual classes (English for Academic Purposes or exam classes, for example).

Can I teach Business English?

While most of these classes are doable with a bit of research and preparation, there is one class that can strike fear into the hearts of even the most experienced EFL teacher: Business English. A very common question we get asked is: Can I teach Business English if I have no business experience?

And the answer: Yes!

If you think about it, we often teach topics that we have no knowledge about – global warming, technology, medicine – but we don’t question our ability to do that. Business English, though, seems to be so foreign and unknown that many teachers don’t believe they can teach it, even though they can.

Not convinced? Let’s look at this in more detail.

What do I need to know to teach Business English?

First of all, you do not need to know terminology relating to business. Well, you do, but you can learn that. You also do not need to know exactly how a particular business or commerce in general works. Your Business English learners will be so varied that there is no way one person can know everything there is to know about all aspects of Business English.

What you do need to know is where to find the right resources.  In Company is the most popular coursebook for teaching Business English and the British Council and OnestopEnglish offer great online resources for Business English classes. Once you have the right resources you can make sure you prepare adequately enough to make a success of your lessons.

Business English

What will I teach in a Business English class?

Your Business English class will depend entirely on your students. You may be teaching a team of accountants from Hong Kong, a CFO from France, the HR department of a German company. Each class has their own needs, and they might not be what you think.

The usual topics for a Business English class are:

  • Writing emails
  • Speaking on the phone
  • Dealing with customers
  • How to participate in meetings
  • Conducting interviews
  • Giving presentations

Plus, depending on your students, your classes will include lessons on specific topics related to the specific career – specific terminology related to a particular business or aspect of business, paperwork particular to a specific job role, or communication skills.

Surprisingly, you may be asked not to teach anything business-related but focus more on the social communication side of things. Many businesspeople need to communicate regularly with people from other countries, using English as their language of communication so they need to be able to have small talk and chat in a social setting as well as communicate in a business context.

So the next time you’re asked to teach a Business English class, give yourself the benefit of the doubt and give it a go.

Teaching Business English

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