Teaching English in the classroom has that scholarly dictionary feel, and is often associated with conjugating verbs, memorizing vocabulary and taking quizzes to see how many you get – or guess – right. When it comes to teaching a language in the corporate world, although most language learners inevitably went through the same stages at some point, teachers should be geared for a context that is quite particular.
First off, these are clients and should be treated as such. They have objectives and expectations. These persons tend to be more mature, not just age wise of course. Interestingly, their motivation to learn English comes with stakes that are not the same as the typical high schooler. They indeed have different reasons for wanting to learn the most communicated language in the world – spoken by an estimated 1.5 billion speakers according to EF.com. This inspiration may spur from business targets: a desire to tackle an English-speaking clientele, or a need to communicate with colleagues and management located in anglophone headquarters or subsidiaries. Some may even have a project to change jobs and transpose skills from their own language to English. You may encounter a small percentage though who take up English somewhat grudgingly if this became an unexpected work-related requirement. With an engaging, persuasive style and valuable lesson material, this can be deftly converted into a new experience they should take advantage of. The task would most likely not be as daunting as students who study English simply because it is on their curriculum.
If the ability to speak English is needed for a business environment, this may call for catch phrases and content such as ‘getting the green light, ‘signing the dotted line’, ‘looking at the big picture’, ‘raising the bar’ and so on. Generally, language learners like quick fixes that make them sound authentic. Basic level learners may need to brush up on polishing their introductions to talk about their career experience and expertise. However, these speakers want above all to learn practical vocabulary that they can put to proper use in the workplace. They may have specific presentations to work on, conference calls to conduct or participate in, physical meetings to attend while travelling on business. Assessing the learners to make sure there is a well-rounded base is excellent too for confidence and credibility. Are they able to talk about their personalities and backgrounds with anglophone colleagues? Order a taxi or a meal at a restaurant with ease? Express an opinion on current affairs?
In addition to doing business, areas that companies are active in can be technical, financial, scientific, among other genres. Being a native level English speaker is not sufficient in all cases to teach the language within a company. Sometimes it is mandatory to have a teacher with a particular career path or familiarity with specific topics.
All in all, teaching English to adult learners in a corporate environment is exciting. It differs greatly from teaching within the traditional education system, and some may even see it as demanding. However, you have the chance to help your learners step out of their daily comfort zone and challenge and increase their language skills. To them, you are a brand and a service provider all in one. If you are dynamic and serious about the progress of the learners you coach, this type of teaching experience can be enriching for you. This context is also particularly interesting as your clients are adults who generally want to hone their abilities and chart their language development. They would thus expect you to deliver proficient English classes and feel the results in how they communicate.