What’s the difference between an executive and a business language course? What kind of environment suits executive clients? When is individual tuition better than a small group course and why should executive clients always do a needs analysis? IALC’s executive language specialists explain…..
Language for business
Many schools offer a business language course alongside their general course. It is normally designed for people with at least an intermediate language level because it focuses on business vocabulary, business communications and some business knowledge. The class size will normally be larger than an executive course and the age profile is usually younger. This kind of course is ideal for young people needing the language for their work or future career, and for those on a lower budget.
John Miles at The London School of English, Canterbury, argues that in a true professional or executive course, “the emphasis is on training, not teaching”. Classes are smaller or one-to-one and designed for people with work experience, often at management level, who have an urgent need to improve their communication skills to do specific things: telephoning, negotiating, meetings, reports, presentations.While an executive course can still include vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation, it must go beyond the basic four skills to enable the learner to communicate effectively in business, agrees Pierre Naudi at ETI.
So while one-to-one tuition can be completely tailormade, the open executive mini-groups run by many IALC language centres have a minimum language level. “Our executive students are usually people who work with or for Italian companies so they need to have a good fluency in Italian,” explains Fabiola Tiberi (Accademia Italiana). “We recommend a basic knowledge of Italian (A2) so that it will be easier to focus on the specific needs.”
Executive courses suit a certain client profile. “In our experience, more mature clients feel more comfortable in a one-to-one or small-group setting – particularly if learning English for a particular job”, says Eithne Kelly (Emerald Cultural Institute).
Executives often need a high-level of customization, and therefore a provider who understands the corporate profile and demands, says Georgina Herrera Morenno at Bridge. Even when joining an open small group course, there is opportunity for customization. Sarah Gaylard (Good Hope Studies) recommends that executive course students bring materials from their workplace, so the teacher understands the work context and can tailor the lessons more specifically to their needs (see also Daniela Multari’s perspective on teaching business English).
Typical components of executive programmes are oral presentation skills, the language of meetings, the language of negotiations, business writing skills and report writing skills, cross cultural communication, social language (for networking), accuracy (to avoid misunderstandings) and language for specific purposes, says Justin Quinn at CES (read more).
Creating the right environment for executives is fundamental, says John Miles. Executive clients want to benefit from exchanging experience with like-minded people from a wide range of professional backgrounds, countries and cultures. The typical executive language centre has an intimate atmosphere, more like a dedicated business training centre than a regular language school, and the age, background and experience of the clients tends to be similar. The range of accommodation options will include hotels and executive homestay, while social activities will be appropriate to professional clients. To cater for experienced and senior professionals, teachers and trainers are more mature and usually experienced and qualified in business as well as language training.
Michele Holmes at Rennert International sums it up: “Executive courses are beneficial for three main reasons: the classroom dynamics, the business curriculum, and the networking opportunities.”
Most executive training specialists offer one-to-one tuition, small group classes or a combination of both. Even in small group business communciation classes, “the instruction is focused, so the student can benefit immensely from even a short-term program,” says Vanessa Palmieri at ELC. But one-to-one tuition is the most flexible and efficient solution for executive clients who have little time on their hands or very specific needs, such as technical language.
Executive courses have changed in the last 20 years, and some argue that there is now a greater demand for private lessons. “While the average stay in our executive centre has halved in the last two decades […] more individual training is asked for and the social element of the course has decreased in importance,” explains John Barnett (Cambridge Academy of English).
“Many executives have learning objectives that cannot be addressed in groups; they are too specific. This is where a combination programme of group work and individual tuition has the flexibility to satisfy their needs,” recommends Pierre Naudi.
Since executive training always has a customized element, it is essential that each client does a needs analysis with the school. “Matching course content and context to a thorough analysis of client needs is the key to successful recommendation” says John Miles. A needs analysis ensures that teachers know exactly what their executive students need and what skills they want to improve. “Depending on the company’s expectations, budget and time, we can recommend a specific course, unique to each student,” says Georgina Herrera Morenno (Bridge).
Article written by International Association of Language Centres (IALC).
Contributors from IALC-accredited language schools:
– Justin Quinn, Managing Director, CES Centre of English Studies | school profiles for: Dublin, Harrogate, Leeds, London, Oxford, Worthing | website
– Daniela Multari, Senior Corporate Language Trainer, Phoenix Academy | school profile | website
– Eithne Kelly, Director of Studies, Emerald Cultural Institute | school profile | website
– John Barnett, Principal, Cambridge Academy of English | school profile | website
– Fabiola Tiberi, Marketing Manager, Accademia Italiana | school profile | website
– Vanessa Palmieri, Director of Marketing, English Language Center | school profiles: Boston, Los Angeles & Santa Barbara | website
– John Miles, Managing Director, The London School of English, Canterbury | school profile | website
– Michele Holmes, Rennert International | school profiles: New York & Miami | website
– Georgina Herrera Moreno, Manager of International Student Recruitment, Bridge | school profiles: Denver, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires & Santiago | website