How to Teach Business English to Non-Native Speakers


It is largely believed that teaching business English to non-native speakers is a mammoth task which is considerably more difficult than regular English language teaching, but this is an erroneous misconception. It may appear as if teaching business English, especially to non-native speakers is an uphill task but the key is having the necessary aids and tools with plenty of confidence and a pool of knowledge on the subject.

Business English teaching is categorically different from teaching conventional English in that you have to understand something about the business of your students to be able to achieve the best results. You must be aware of the fact that being able to communicate effectively in their prospective business dealings is the aim of your clients or students.

What you must know

Before plunging into teaching a set of non-native speakers on the subject matter, you must bear in mind that you are not going to be teaching business in English, but English in a business context. Many English tutors make a huge mistake by getting this wrong; they put too much emphasis on teaching their clients about business in English, forgetting they still need the knowledge they have already acquired over time. They just need to be able to communicate in a business tone and they will fit into their newly found niche perfectly.

Your job is to help them to express themselves in the business tone and to this end they will need to be acquainted with the terminology used in business, against the backdrop of their respective business sector. This saves time and targets your teaching towards the successful performance of your clients.

Needs assessment

The needs of your students or clients and the objectives they want to achieve at the end of the course may vary, so you may want to ask them if there is anything in particular they want to know. There are situations whereby secretaries or those working in the administration sector want to focus on perfecting their telephone skills and email writing.

This is why you should carry out a needs assessment session with your clients. You would be doing yourself a great favour, and of course helping your students by researching into their prospective companies so that you fashion the appropriate lessons and terminology to ensure teaching optimisation.

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Resources and aids

The publishing industry provides you with an avalanche of resources, ranging from business text books, pamphlets, magazines on marketing, economics, banking etc. Bearing in mind the needs of your clients, an intuitive selection can be made from this pool of resources. The Internet is also an excellent tool to assist you in teaching your students appropriately. You can research their companies, visit websites and glean information from articles or excerpts for reading material. You can download financial reports online for your students to listen to.

The YouTube channel also provides you with a lot of instructional videos ranging from presentations to resolving business disputes. On a final note, you have to be confident and assertive when required, and you need to instil the realistic belief in your students or clients that they will soon be able to communicate effectively in the business context.

Your effectiveness as a teacher lies in your inbuilt or acquired ingenuity to provide your clients with the best resources in line with their particular business.

Teaching hours

Teaching hours are usually in the morning 7am to 9:30am, afternoon 1pm to 4pm and in the evening 6:30pm to 9:30pm. Your potential clients have busy lives, with meetings to attend as well as their daily business activities. Sometimes they may have to cancel lessons. To this end, you have to understand the need for flexibility in your clients, although senior staff are likely to have less problems with tight schedules.

It is therefore imperative that you structure your lessons in accordance with the schedules of your clients.

Proofreading Asia offers business English classes, soft skills training and email writing workshops to companies in and around Bangkok.