This blog is dedicated to Business English. The goal is to understand how to help Business English students succeed.
The posts will fall into the following categories:
- Teaching English
- Defining Business English
- Teaching Writing
- Defining Good Writing
- Training On The Job
- Thought Leaders
- Measuring The Need
I’ll look at the theories on how to teach a foreign language and their implications for Business English. Questions like: How has language learning theory evolved? What do we know about the differences between teaching children and adults? What do we know about the differences between teaching groups and individuals?
Defining Business English
Business English is, of course, just the English people need for their jobs. But can we flesh that out at all? Are there some things that most people need (e.g. writing skills, talking about Microsoft Office, etc.)? And how do we deal with more specialized stuff?
Of all the things that make up Business English, my experience is that writing emails is the most prevalent. Here I’ll review the various theories on how to teach English writing skills. Questions like: What has been proven to help people write better? How does teaching writing to native speakers differ from teaching writing to non-native speakers?
Defining Good Writing
Someone once asked me what the most important part of preparing a lesson was. I said: choosing the objective. Even if we know how to teach a foreign language and how to teach writing, we better have a good objective in mind. So, let’s go over what good writing in English looks like. What do English style guides say? When should we be prescriptivists? When should we be descriptivists? How do test makers (like the TOEFL, GRE, etc.) come up with their rubrics? What’s up with the readability formulas?
Training on The Job
I have a feeling that lots of Business English people aren’t taking advantage of what the world has figured out about training employees in general. I’d like to know: What theories are out there for workplace training? What makes something successful? What makes something fail?
Here I’d like to showcase interviews with people who are successfully teaching Business English–textbook authors, corporate trainers, executives at language companies like Berlitz and Global English, program coordinators at colleges. I’ll also check in with some students who have been successful. What worked for them and why?
Measuring The Need
Does any of this even matter? How many people actually need Business English? How many people struggle with English on the job? Is there a way to quantify that need in terms of unproductive time or diminished impact? And how about the other direction? Can we measure the impact of various efforts to help people? What’s the most we could hope for?
A place for topics that come up but don’t fit nicely in another category. Like, what about gamefication? What about texting?