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Business English extra

Type: Article

There is a wealth of material on onestopenglish for teaching Business English. A lot of it is obvious as you’ll find it here, within the Business section of the site. However, there are many other great resources elsewhere on the site which are suitable and relevant for use in your Business English classes. In this article, Adrian Tennant takes a look at some of the other materials available and suggests how they can be integrated into your teaching.

News Lessons | Lesson Share | Skills | Speaking and pronunciation | Vocabulary | Exams | Teacher support | Methodology | Conclusion


News Lessons

One place to look is in the News Lessons section. Firstly, the lessons are really up-to-date and so are often topical – i.e. your students might even be talking about the same issues and stories from the stories they read in newspapers and see on TV. Secondly, there are three different levels – elementary, intermediate and advanced – meaning that if you find a story you think would be useful with your students, you won't need to rewrite or edit anything in order to make it suitable for their level of English.

Over the last few years I’ve used news lessons on topics ranging from banking for the poor, the credit crunch and brands and selling out. Not only have these articles interested my students, but they’ve been of interest to me and I’ve wanted to know more – always a sign of good material. Another news lesson I used was about population demographics. The lesson was based on an article about a recent report which had revealed that within the next ten years the number of over sixty-fives will outnumber the number of under-fives in the world for the first time. This might not seem such a worrying or amazing fact, but once you've done this lesson you can't help but wonder what will happen.

Quite clearly lessons like these have relevance to many Business English classes and are a great help giving you a range of materials as well as lots of ideas that you can use in future lessons and in writing your own materials.

Each news lesson is available on onestopenglish for a year in order to keep the topics current and relevant to your students. New news lessons are published every week, so there will be plenty of new lessons throughout the year that are useful and relevant in Business classes.

Lesson Share

The Lesson Share section is divided into categories for easy reference. This is useful – but don’t just stick to the lessons clearly marked as Business English! For Business English teachers there are some really useful lessons in the other sections of the Lesson Share bank that would be suitable for many Business classes.

One lesson I particularly liked was about charity shops. Lessons like this can easily be expanded to include a discussion or a debate at the end, which can include things such as the idea that ‘charity starts at home’ or the idea that young people should take more responsibility for looking after elderly relatives. 

Another lesson idea I like is a collocation activity with the word meeting. The beauty of a lesson like this is that it is so simple but really effective. Looking back at some of the news lessons, it is quite easy to pick out collocations and think about how these could be taught in a way that makes them more memorable.

Skills

You may feel that so far we’ve covered a lot of reading but, in terms of other skills work, not much more. So, why not take a look in onestopenglish’s huge Skills section and see what you can find? For example, in the listening skills lesson plans section I found a number of really useful lessons, including one about radio and TV advertising suitable for elementary level students and a number of listening activities that would really help in terms of developing social English, which is something many business people need.

In the Writing skills section there are some really useful ideas including a lesson on writing statistical reports and a lesson on advertising, which links in nicely with many of the news lessons, as well as the listening skills lesson plan mentioned above. 

Speaking and pronunciation

In the Speaking skills area of the Skills section there are some great ideas that at first glance you might not consider including in a Business English lesson but, when you look a little more closely, actually work really well. For example, there is a ‘hot topics’ lesson about disability and the type of language that might be considered offensive. This lesson could be used as a follow-up to the news lesson on the ageing population of the world. Another lesson that you might also use as a follow-up is this one on euthanasia. If you do decide to use any of these lessons, it is certainly worth reading the tips for teaching hot topics for practical advice and guidance. 

Business learners are no different from other learners in that they have issues to do with pronunciation. Have you looked in the Pronunciation skills section to see whether there is anything you can use to help your students with problematic pronunciation? And why not use the excellent Interactive phonemic chart to help improve your students’ pronunciation? 

Vocabulary

Another place well worth dipping into is the extensive Vocabulary section. Within the vocabulary area there are some lessons that immediately strike me as being relevant and useful for Business English classes. For example, the lessons on money. Using one of these in conjunction with one of the news lessons that focuses on charity, shopping or other aspects of finance is quite a nice idea. If you want to teach American vocabulary rather than British, then there's a lesson on the same topic here. Another lesson in the vocabulary section that I have used in the past with Business students is this one on jobs.

You might also be interested in these classroom resources on the latest language used in the media, based on the BuzzWord articles found on the free online Macmillan Dictionary. Of course, not all the words here will be of use to Business students, but it’s well worth taking a look and seeing if any might be useful.

Exams

Another place where you might want to take a quick look to see if there is anything is the Exams section. Within the Cambridge ESOL exams section there are tips and some sample materials for the BEC (Business English Certificate) and BULATS (Business Language Testing Service) exams. Even if your students aren't going to be taking one of these exams, there still may well be some ideas you can use, or some advice that would be pertinent to them.

Materials for the teacher

Onestopenglish is not simply about materials that can be used straight away in the classroom, it also contains articles aimed at helping teachers with their own professional development. So, in the Business and ESP section there are a few articles on Business teaching approaches.  

If you take a look in some of the other sections on the site, you will find other articles that are extremely useful and relevant. For example, within the huge Teacher Support section there is a section called Teaching tips with a number of really useful articles such as this one on addressing the SP in ESP and teaching one-to-one, which is something that often happens when teaching Business English.  

Also located under Teacher Support is the Methodology section, in which there is a whole area devoted to articles on teaching Business English and ESP, as well as many articles in the other areas that may be of use. 

Conclusion

So, as you can see, if you know where to look you'll find even more material that you can use as a Business English teacher. Just sticking to the section that is labeled 'Business and ESP' will certainly give you lots of great material to work with, but with a little bit of digging there is so much more on the site that gives you added value.

It’s also important to remember that new content is being added to the site all the time. For example, one of the latest additions to the Business and ESP section is the bank of Business Spotlight lesson plans which are linked to articles from the magazine by the same name.

Happy hunting!

Adrian Tennant

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