Tips for business English lesson plans

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As a trainee or novice English as a foreign language (EFL) teacher, you will already know how to prepare general EFL and ESL lesson plans. This short article will give you some tips on what you should take into consideration when preparing ESP (English for Specific Purposes) lesson plans for Business English.

Novice ESL teachers should not dismiss the possibility of teaching an English for Specific Purposes (ESP) class: you could be required to cover for an absent or sick colleague, and if you have come into ESL teaching from a business background – you could be teaching ESP sooner than you think. We should also dispel the myth that says you have to teach business studies when you teach a Business English class: all you will be required to teach is English for Special Purposes. You should prepare your ESP lesson plans essentially in the same way as you would prepare your general ESL lesson plans, but you should take the following additional points into consideration:

1. The ESP business students should already have a satisfactory command of English: their primary objective will be to learn how to express themselves in English-speaking business environments, such as: banking, insurance, finance, and accountancy.

2. You should not attempt to prepare lesson plans based on run-of-the-mill grammar and vocabulary; you will have to base it on those aspects of English that have direct relevance and practical application for specific business environments, e.g. accountancy.

3. Before you prepare your lesson plans, endeavour to determine the background of your ESP class. This will greatly assist you in preparing your lesson plans. With this information, you can prepare lesson plans that are the most ideally suited for the ESP students’ specific area(s) of business.

4. If you are having serious difficulty in designing your lesson plans, you should think about talking to an ESP content specialist to assist you.

5. Make sure that you research the particular area of business for which you will be teaching English. Look online for some introductory texts, or buy a few secondhand books to assist you in expressing yourself better. You will feel a lot more confident with this knowledge.

6. Your lesson plans should also take into account the characteristics of adult students, for example: incorporate the students’ life experiences in your lesson plans; make sure that the work is relevant and has specific and immediately applicable goals; adults are highly motivated so, within reason, your lesson plans should include more challenging work.

7. Your weekly lesson plans should include practice in the use of English in the following topics: business correspondence, negotiations, specialised vocabulary, listening (especially telephone and video conferencing), and small talk – these topics are an integral part of every business environment.

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