What can your Business English students teach you?

I have another great secret.

My students are incredible people.

They are bankers, managers, managing bankers; they are CEOs and CFOs, web programmers and designers; they are parents, they are wives and husbands, they belong to groups and associations - they work in the Energy sector, the Automobile industry, in Finance and Marketing.

They're champions.

They have hobbies. They have dreams, ambitions. They've failed at stuff, won awards and prizes, done a lot with their lives. They certainly know a heck of a lot more about business plans and web design than I ever will.

So you know what I do?

I listen and learn.

Sometimes they're so passionate about all the things they can teach me how to do, that while they're sharing their immeasurable knowledge, they completely forget they're speaking in English. Sometimes, I feel like I'm floundering in a sea of vocabulary that I'm sort of, kind of aware of but don't really know what it really means (the investment bankers).

I get them to teach the stuff they do in their normal lives as if I were one of their pupils.

I concentrate on the structure of the sentences while they do this, correcting their mistakes subtly, simply as a part of the conversation and encourage them to pay attention, to self-correct and auto-correct each other.

And all the while they are becoming completely themselves in my language.

Are your students special people too?

Who are they? What knowledge have they got, what do they really know heaps about that they 'd enjoy teaching you? Are you willing to let them be the bosses?

What is something you're interested in learning about? Or better yet, what is something you never ever thought you'd be interested in knowing more about? Are you sure? You've got some free schooling up ahead of you if you want it.

I must warn you, though, this exercise comes with a warning: your life, hobbies and interests could seriously change beyond repair.

p.s By any chance did you already do this? Tell us what you learned about!

5 Responses to “What can your Business English students teach you?”

  • Dave Kees says:
    April 16, 2009

    Yes, it is a curious thing but when you are teaching professionals they almost always know the English technical terms for what they do but they have problems with sentence structures and some common vocabulary.

    I have interviewed these kinds of professionals and have found that they never tried to "study" these words nor were they ever "taught" them but they picked them up at their companies in the course of their work. This is another acknowledgment of the power and ability of acquiring language as per Stephen Krashen's theories.

    However, university students will be different and not able to pick up this sort of language so they need some help there.

  • Miracel says:
    April 17, 2009

    I like your blog. I'm getting a lot of ideas from this. I will visit more often. Thanks for the great post!


    April 17, 2009

    Hi Miracel, you've got a gorgeous new blog -very well laid out, good luck with it and don't hesitate to ask questions if you ever have them.

    Hi ya Dave, absolutely agree - I tend to think our brains are fairly efficient at working out what we 'need' to learn and what not.

    Where we language teachers have our jobs cut out is in convincing our learners' brains that what we're teaching them needs to go into one of the archives too... if you know what I mean LOL.

  • Troy says:
    April 19, 2009

    I have to admit that I sometimes feel guilty with the amount I learn and the fact that I am being paid to boot! I have archaeologist/architects, biologists, doctors etc who teach me more in a class that I feel I can teach them in years.

    It's obvious that if your learners are learning English in order to communicate effectively with others about their field, that they should be talking (A LOT) about their field in class. Could smack some of Dogme teaching, but someone with experience knows how to make it more than just a conversation.

    Good point.

    April 19, 2009

    Hi Troy,

    I know the feeling! Sometimes when I'm chatting to normal people er, i.e. non TEFLrs, I'll come up with some random tidbit of knowledge and they'll just look at me and wonder how on earth I could know that (seeing as how I'm a teacher)... cracks me up 'cause it was either from a student or a textbook. LOL.

    definitely am dogmeist, nothing wrong with that, right!


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