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Calling all College Professors: Make Business

English Classes Fun

While living in Europe, I earned a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) and spent several years as a language teacher. I taught primarily business English and most of my classes consisted of students from one particular field--accounting, sales and marketing, the oil industry, and so on. While focusing lessons on a single field of work ensures students get exactly the knowledge they need, it can also lead to dull, repetitious classes if you don't actively look for ways to liven things up. If you teach business English, here are some things you can do to add variety to your lessons and keep your students looking forward to working with you.

Leave room for self-expression

You may be stuck with certain industry-related topics, but you can still give your students a chance to express themselves. Any activity that involves decision making, problem solving, or creative thinking is good for this. Some subjects that work well with these kinds of activities are the future of the industry or the students' company, how the industry or company has changed over time, stereotypes and myths surrounding the field, and the ways cultural differences affect business relations. When you create role plays, make sure the situations are open-ended enough to require some real thought. For instance, if you base a lesson on job hunting, use real interview questions that are more in-depth than just "What did you major in?"

Vary your exercise types

If you create your own lessons or work with only one textbook, it's easy to get stuck using gap-fills, multiple choice questions, and other typical exercises. To avoid this, take some time to browse through a variety of textbooks and collect some ideas for exercises so you'll have them on hand when you need to develop a lesson. For instance, as a variation on the usual gap-fill song listening exercise, I gave some of my advanced students a copy of the song lyrics with some incorrect words (say, "beard" instead of "bird") and asked them to correct the errors as they listened to the song. Also, if your classes run longer than an 90-minutes, try to get your students up and moving now and then. Just having them stand up to write on the board can re-energize the class.


Don't overlook general English teaching material just because it has no obvious connection to business English. Often it only takes a little thought to create that connection. For example, a quick Internet search will turn up a good selection of funny headlines, store signs, and ads. These are great for teaching because it's only once a learner has a clear understanding of grammar that they can appreciate why headlines like "Milk drinkers turning to powder" are funny. To give these one-liners relevance to a particular industry, just edit them to include some industry-related vocabulary. You can do the same with quotes, idioms, sayings, proverbs, and even jokes although in some cases you'll want to give your students the original versions, too.

Use authentic material

To bring a stronger sense of authenticity to your lessons, collect newspapers articles, brochures, advertising, graphs, or even forms used by native speakers in your students' field and work them into your lessons. One activity that works for any business English class is translating "corporate speak" into "plain" English. Even for native speakers, it takes some thought to decypher what something like "seamlessly integrate real-time product knowledge" actually means. Ideally, use material that's more than just the English version of something your students see everyday. For example, I once found a set of graphs about phone use habits in various countries that my telecom industry students spent a whole lesson with because the information presented was new to them. See more info of coursework online service in prescottpapers visit this website.

Don't forget humor

Humor goes a long way not only towards keeping your students awake, but towards making the material more memorable, too. Cartoons based on office life, like Dilbert, can be useful for reading practice, but don't forget to look for (or ask a local to help you find) humor written in the local language for translation practice, too. For pronunciation and intonation practice, joke telling can be quote useful. Often even students who are shy about speaking are willing to tell a joke just because it's rewarding to make others laugh. Again, you may have to adapt some jokes to make them a little more relevant to your students' field of work, but this usually takes just a few minutes.

By injecting a little variety into your business English classes, you'll can not only make your classes more enjoyable, but also better hold your students' attention so they'll learn faster and remember more. In addition, you'll probably cut down on missed lessons, which means more money for you.

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