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Business EnglishI like to think of business English as a layer of language that fits between basic English on the bottom and specialized English on the top. Most students of business English are looking to build upon a basic knowledge of English. They want to be able to apply general business language skills to their current English skills. They are looking to learn how to conduct some aspect of their job using appropriate business related English. Specialized business English classes focus on certain business areas such as engineering, travel, finance or technology. Ideally these courses build upon basic English and business English skills, however they are often building the skills on all three fronts. Business English training ? What it is not. Teachers of business English are often drawn into having to respond to questions on subjects that they may not have the knowledge or training to answer. These include subjects like cultural differences, business skills, business etiquette and international trade. Business English training ? What are the areas of difference between business English training and general English training? Areas of focus: In a general esl course, the students are likely to need/want training in speaking, listening, writing and reading English. In a business esl course, it is likely that some of the clients, because of their job functions, are only in need of improvement in reading and writing English. Role playing activities: to the extent that these are conducted in the context of a business situation they become much more effective. If the clients represent a number of job functions, the more the role playing reflects these functions the more meaningful they will be e.g. if the clients are in customer service, a role play with ?irate customers? would be very useful. The clients should learn phrases that they can use in real-life situations. Vocabulary: clients will expect to become familiar with the most frequently used business English words. Study stage and Activate stage exercises should introduce these, again in the context of the job functions represented in the class. Reading/Writing: the majority of the reading and writing challenges ahead for these clients will be in the business context. Training should focus on reading/writing authentic business material, ideally from their own company e.g. correspondence, emails, business plans, reports etc. Clients: The mix of language and motivation levels of clients attending any one course can be a source of difficulty for the business esl teacher. This is also true in the general ESL teaching environment. However there is an increased degree of difficulty in business ESL classes. With regard to a broad range of language levels, an experienced teacher can identify the differing levels by conducting placement assessments or needs analyses and develop lesson plans that accommodate these. With regard to motivation, clients may be attending training just to get away from work; they may be intimidated by attendees senior (or junior) to them taking the same course. It is likely that they are still expected to perform their work and resent the time spent in training. They may be under additional pressure because the training is a pre-requisite for promotion. An experienced teacher has to accommodate all of these circumstances. Business English teaching ? What are the controversies? Course books: Even in the realm of general ESL teaching the question of course book use is debated. In the business ESL teaching world there is a stronger case for using authentic and created materials. students (clients) gain a great deal of confidence by being able to navigate authentic material. English for business is a real and living language. Nothing but the most recent course book could claim to be current with the language. Through needs analyses teachers are attempting to match their materials to clients? needs (in a dynamic business setting). It is unlikely that an off-the-shelf course book will meet the need. technology: The decision to use or not to use blogs, web-sites, on-line testing/references, DVD or video recording equipment etc. is often based on personal preference. There is no doubt that these technologies can assist in the learning experience. However, lack of availability to all students and potential unreliability of equipment and power argue for teachers depending less on technology and more on traditional teaching techniques and resources.