If you’ve studied French, Spanish, German or any language in high school, but haven’t had the chance to use it since, then you know how quickly skills fade when you don’t practice -- which is why teaching English abroad doesn’t just mean classrooms full of cute kids, but adults and professionals as well.
Business English is gratifying to teach abroad, because students are already using or planning to use their English skills in their careers. Students come to class motivated to learn because success in their jobs rests heavily on their ability to communicate with colleagues, partners and clients in English. There are also many opportunities to teach business English online.
Photo credits: Jirka Matousek.
As with any specialized English learning curriculum, there are numerous opportunities to teach English specifically for the business world as a tutor. Especially since students may already be working professionals and have clear, specific goals in mind, as well as opportunities to practice business English outside of the classroom, tutoring is an ideal situation for students to receive customized instruction. Programs like Pueblo Ingles, for example, will organize this.
Corporations often also require or provide business English courses as an option for employees. Since these students are already a part of the working world, corporate classes will focus on language they can use, real time, in their job. Depending on the corporation / business, you can find a job teaching directly for them either through a language academy that places teachers with businesses as clients. Classes tend to take place either before or after work, or during lunch.
Another option is to teach business English at a university. Since business degrees are increasingly demanding a globally focused curriculum and fluency in English, the opportunities for business students to learn business English, and for teachers to teach it, is increasing as well.
Private Language Schools:
Especially in more urban centers, business classes are often offered as a specific course at private language schools. If you want to specialize in teaching business English, make sure your potential employer offers this as part of their curriculum.
However, in some cases, business English classes at private language schools will allow for younger, middle- and high- school students to enroll in the course. Again, be sure to ask about this before agreeing the course.
In some countries, like France, you may be able to find a job teaching business English to secondary school students. These types of teaching jobs most likely take place in public or private schools, as students at this age are starting to prepare for future studies in business. In schools, Business English activities may emulate tasks in the world of commerce, such as an activity where students create a business, conduct a mock business interview, or anything that gets them practicing business vocabulary and thinking creatively, in English.
Business English versus Regular English Courses:
Business English courses typically require more student interaction and collaborative tasks for learners to work on. Ensure that you have plenty of group work for students. Talking in class is helpful, and should be encouraged at the appropriate times, as long as students speak in English.
For the most part, save reading, writing and other independent work for outside of class, so class time can be maximized for practicing speaking. This is especially important if students are not already in the working world and don’t have opportunities to speak in English in their day to day jobs.
Where to Teach Business English Abroad
France, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands, are particularly popular countries for teaching Business English (source: Global English). According to surveys by Education First and The Economist, speakers in Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway have the best communication skills in English for business.
Qualifications for teaching Business English Abroad
The qualifications you will need to teach Business English aren’t too different from the general requirements needed of ESL teachers abroad, and vary greatly depending on the position and country.
However, most positions will prefer for teachers to have some background in business in addition to teaching experience and a TEFL certification.
Find out what your students want to achieve: It’s important to learn what your students’ goals are for learning business English. Do they already work at jobs which require them to interact with customers in English or conduct business in English? Do they want to pursue future studies in Business? Are they going to live or work in an English-speaking country? Learning about what you students want to get out of the course will help you prepare lessons that align with these goals, keep them engaged, and prove that you care about them as people.
Use real-life examples: Staying up-to-date with current events and business news helps keep your lessons applicable to “real-world” situations. Have a few students present and analyze a current event pertaining to commerce at the start of every class. I have found such exercises to keep class lively by giving different people the chance to speak.
Be business-like: Maintain a business-like atmosphere in class. This may mean that there is lots of time to work on group projects, having mock business meetings, or interviews in class. Always be prompt and professional and expect the same attitude of professionalism from your students. Practice living in the English-speaking business world in class by speaking primarily in English. Have students ask questions in English but translate words and short phrases as needed.
Keep the energy high: Whether you are teaching in a company or at a school, time for talking and collaborative work among students is crucial. Ensure that you have plenty of tasks and projects planned which require cooperative work among students, and of course, keep the door open for students to ask questions as they occur. Leave the independent work for students to do on their own time and allow class to be a time that is fun, engaging and will keep students motivated to learn.