Whether your course is English for Business or Business English I think the most important point to make is that as trainers we have to recognise and value the skills and expertise of the participants.
Often the university graduates in these courses have a strong level of English, but no work experience. I always say to my high level corporate clients – you are an experienced, intelligent business person. Strong communication and business skills need to be transferred across into English. English is simply a means of communication.
Know what they want, need and expect, and find out the company’s expectations. The trainer then can decide how to best use the clients’ strengths and fill in their gaps in English. Work backwards, from what they already know and can bring to the course to what they don’t know.
Personalise topics and use real life examples (easy to do these days with technology readily available). The English can emerge from these contexts. Work with the language the participants provide to make the input as realistic as possible.
Role plays in “authentic” situations related to business are an excellent way to manage different levels in one group. Recently I filmed a series of role plays, for example, a negotiation. Participants were given sufficient time to formulate their ideas in English before “performing”. I selected roles according to the students’ strengths. All felt they could make strong contributions in both their English and content.
Daniela Multari is Senior Corporate Language Trainer with Phoenix Academy (www.phoenix.wa.edu.au).