What is special about Business English? In short it could be said that business English enhances communication in the world of commerce. Like it or not we live in an era of globalization and that means dealing not only across times zones but languages.
As a teacher of this rather broad yet specialist subject, there are a number of ‘do’s and don’ts’, which will help both the teacher and the student. I start with building a relationship with my students, that can include understanding their business as well as their own professional needs. Remember many of them will be used to being in control within their own working environments.
Vocabulary can be a learning curve for the teacher! Every job has its own ‘jargon’, or ‘buzzwords’. Basics are a good start – they cover most businesses. Brand/s, marketing, strategy to mention a few. Departments such as HR (Human Resources/Personnel), Accounts/Finance, Production and so many more. Oh how we love acronyms today like HR, CEO, CFO. Then messaging vocabulary is a whole new market place – FYI, ASAP and how about LOL.
Working with the building industry was a personal favourite – now there is vocabulary to get your note book bulging. A multi national force building a train system in Africa. The extremes were the person who needed to know ‘hard hat’. Whilst the Site Manager was required to write daily reports updating the financiers. Believe me the whiteboard was well used. Dirty labourers would come to class chewing on huge chicken sandwiches; their boots dropping mud and filth everywhere. Pointing to their ‘overalls’ – “what name this teacher?” One man hefted a large boot on to the table to ask how to say the word ‘boot’. As if clothing wasn’t difficult enough, I was often taken on to the site and asked “What name that in English?” Now ‘that’ could be a forklift truck, a chain saw or a dump truck. Amazing how swear words – expletives find common ground! Believe me it was a great 6 months and I probably learned as much as the labourer who worked “at dark time.” - Night shift. Until the next time.
Tell me about your business English difficulties.