Number one for English language teachers

Business first lessons: Problems and solutions

Alex Case helps you anticipate problems you might face in the first business English lesson with a new class.

In a previous article in this series, I offered a ‘Wish list’ of 28 things that would ideally be included in a first lesson. The most difficult of these things, in my opinion, are:

  • Responding to student needs when you often don’t know what they are before the course starts (point 6)
  • Making sure students go away with something they can use (point 14).

The importance of diagnostic activities and a needs analysis

Apart from changing the school system to include some needs analysis at an earlier point (see Needs Analysis articles), the only thing you can do is to go into your first class with a very flexible lesson plan, which includes diagnostic activities and a needs analysis early on.

Giving feedback on the language they have used to describe their job, etc during the needs analysis really helps.

A worksheet bank

Another technique I use is simply to take in a whole pack of ready photocopied material including the worksheets given here and materials covering Simple Past / Present Perfect and the alphabet. I can then respond instantly to anything that comes out in the needs analysis and diagnostic activities.

The photocopies never go to waste as they stay in my file waiting for my next first lesson, and are also useful back-up for emergency substitutions.

A simple solution: using my lesson plan

If you are using my basic lesson plan for a first lesson with a new business class, the four stages (getting to know you and diagnostic activities / needs analysis / feedback / language work) just about fit into a 90-minute lesson, but there is usually something left over from the language work for either homework or a revision warmer in a future lesson.

Sixty minutes is a bit of a squash for all of this, but that simply means that your second lesson is already ready, assuming the needs analysis doesn’t bring something to the fore that needs to be covered more urgently.

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