John Hughes and Robert McLarty 2016
In my university in Skopje, Business English is an optional subject and I usually have a mix of students aged 18– 22. To try and meet their needs I create a syllabus around the B2–C1 level and have recently used ETpedia Business English as a resource. It has proved its worth not only in its coverage of the different levels but also in its clear and easy-to-follow organisation of units, its photocopiable worksheets and of course its 500 ideas and activities.
On any course a teacher has to ensure that all necessary language and language skills are covered and a resource book can help relieve the workload. As this book says in its Introduction: ‘The one thing most teachers need is more time; more time to plan, more time to search for resources, and more time to develop their skills and knowledge for the Business English classroom. We hope that by offering you this collection of accessible ideas, you’ll have more time to spend on developing your teaching in the way you would like.’
ETpedia Business English serves as an English Teaching encyclopedia (ET + pedia), grouped into five sections and an Appendix: What is Business English?; Preparation and planning; Activities for business topics; Business communication skills; Business language skills. Each section is divided into 50 units, each containing 10 points (activities, tips, reasons, ways, sources, considerations, sets, types). What makes this resource book so impressive is its range. It first deals with issues about teaching Business English in a variety of contexts, such as one-to-one, in-work/pre-work and in-company, and then provides tips on carrying out a needs analysis, assessing the learners’ language level and planning a course. The focus then shifts to numerous activities based around topics like workplaces/companies, marketing/advertising, sales, money/ finance, culture/business ethics, management/HR, job applications, technology/production, and reading charts and graphs. Vocabulary is given prominence, as are useful business phrases for everyday business dealings and correspondence. Learners become familiar with the language needed for socialising and networking, (instant mini-) meetings and discussions, negotiations and presentations, while practising the language and being given feedback by the teacher. (There is a unit on different ways to approach feedback.) The book is encyclopaedic in that it prides itself on collecting all the classroom resources, ideas and tips into one simple-to-use and very comprehensive reference book.
The book abounds in authentic materials (realistic situations, role plays) and the ideas in the Appendix can be put to many uses. For example, the Social English Game makes learners aware of the uses of English in a social context and the proper construction of sentences/questions (polite requests, offers, making small talk, arrangements, orders, asking for directions); business cards are suggested for an activity in which learners’ build a whole background story on who they are and introducing themselves and their company. Learners also get acquainted with the CEFR levels, thus making them mindful of their own learning outcomes, and are given information on tests and formally recognised qualifications.
Layout, colour and appropriate typeface (font, style, size) can do so much to ease the teacher’s job, and I like this book’s spiral-bound look and its use of colour in bullet points, graphs, charts, business cards.
No matter how much I wanted to do every single activity or share every single tip with my students, I am unfortunately restricted by the number of classes I have a week. More often than not, I used the Appendix materials as warm-up activities as my students are quite advanced and in their other subjects are given reading material in English. My main objective was for them to be able to transfer their knowledge of English into the business world they’ll soon be entering, and ETpedia Business English gave me precisely what I needed. Towards the end of the semester, I noticed an improvement in my students’ use of grammar, their communication skills and their awareness of contextual differences in the business world.
Learners will obviously benefit from a book like this, but so will teachers no matter how many years of experience they have. It will surely play a very important part in their professional development and I strongly recommend it.