On the 17th day of the course, we had Mike Hogan as a guest. He was with us to make a presentation about how to teach business English. It is not exaggerating to point out that Mike is a professional teacher who has been dealing with business English for over ten years, so it was very important for our CELTA class to have him in presence.
The presentation was very successful, and we understood that teaching business English was another challenge teachers might have to face. It is a serious field of teaching that requires a different approach. As Mike stated it was a matter of creativity, and this implies that teachers may even have to prepare their own materials if they undertake such a challenge.
The most important point to remember while teaching business English is to make the lessons as task based as possible. This stems from the fact that learners have very special needs if they are in business English classes. Therefore, the focus should be on such crucial matters as etiquette and how to properly communicate with clients from different nations. Needless to say, teachers are best if they are prepared to provide specific examples of making requests, asking for advice, taking turns, and showing interest in what someone is saying. Apart from these, learners expect teachers to create opportunities for them to practice their presentation skills because they have to make presentations representing their firms.
Moreover, teachers need to be ready for selecting and teaching specific vocabulary for business English classes. That is no easy job because it depends on the type of sector in which learners work. However, it is possible for teachers to learn from their class and pay attention to teaching the lexis related to a particular sector. That is to say, collaboration between teachers and students for successful lessons is highly suggested as language teachers cannot always be expected to know every word for architecture, marketing, engineering etc.
As for dealing with the pronunciation or grammar mistakes of learners, flexibility is welcome because the important thing is to make sure that those in the class do the tasks the way desired and communication is not affected badly by the problems that occur. This point is significant to keep in mind, for business English teachers need to distinguish what would actually break down communication. Also, it is required to approach problem areas that emerge in a careful way in order not to intimidate learners who are already vey qualified for their own profession.
One more thing for teachers to be careful about if they are to teach business English is the dress code as Mike shared. Wearing a suit for this necessity is a good idea because everybody else in the class does so. If teachers are formally dressed, there is no doubt they will be respected more because it indicates that they consider the job seriously. It should always be born in mind that a good reputation can be earned only through the work done, and it is the learners that will allow a teacher to do that.
In addition to the aforementioned, Mike Hogan gave us valuable information about many other aspects of business English classes from the possible type of activities to design to the detailed general profile of learners whom we are likely to teach, and it all was helpful. As a teacher who has never taught classes for such a specific purpose, I now know what to expect and how I can deal with the whole challenge.
Needless to say, I feel more confident than ever, and I believe it would be a good experience to teach business English one day. I also would like to thank Mike Hogan and Chia Suan Chong, who arranged a session with Mike, for one of the most beneficial days of the CELTA course.