When I first started learning to teach English and thought about business English it conjured up images of men in suits, massive offices and demanding students. They would have difficult questions about English and wouldn’t suffer anyone who didn’t know what they were talking about. I would be left a bumbling fool and unable to explain all the complex grammar points and vocabulary they demand of me. Wrong!
First of all, your students are business people – this means they are more than likely to be smart, confident and willing to take risks. In the English class this translates to attentive students who are willing to learn and practice. There’s nothing worse than a room full of shy students who don’t want to speak.
Secondly, the material you teach doesn’t change that much. Remember, your job is to model the correct usage of the language, so even if you’re not entirely sure about what a ‘stock ledger’ is, you can still use it correctly in a sentence, e.g. ‘my stock ledger is doing very well’! You will find that you spend most of your time teaching topics such as meetings, greetings, presentations, formal/informal language, etc. Anyone with a high school education knows the correct way to speak in these situations, so don’t worry about getting tripped up with difficult words. You will teach not so much what to say, but how to say it.
Thirdly, you have the practical considerations. Teaching business English means going to many different businesses; you will find yourself running round the city centre from class to class and student to student. You’d better get familiar with the public transport system, or invest in a bike. You will have to adapt to their schedules; most English classes take place when business workers are free, i.e. 8am-9am, 2pm-4pm, 6pm-7pm. This can make for quite a long working day. On the other hand you have variety in your schedule, you have time for plenty of coffee breaks and you don’t have to spend all day in the same place.
Finally, please remember – ‘business men’ are just nice, normal people! If you start to get nervous or are daunted by the thought of teaching a CEO, remind yourself that you are the boss in the English class, you speak perfect English and they don’t. They are there to learn from you.
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If you would like to know more about being a business English teacher, check out our TEFL courses in Barcelona.
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