Teaching business communication skills

The general English programmes for students from backgrounds. Objectives of teaching business English. The rules of grammar, the domain of vocabulary and pronunciation. Major elements of business English. The concept of intercultural communication.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
Вид реферат
Язык английский
Дата добавления 21.03.2012

Teaching business communication skills

English language teaching has gone through a radical shift of emphasis in the last twenty years, beginning with the communicative revolution of the mid-1970s. Business English, which appeared on the ELT stage as a course programme and learning objective in the late seventies, has been shaped by a range of influences from both the ELT and the non-ELT world. Its course content reflects the diverse needs of varied learner groups - from pre-service students to in-service professionals; and its pedagogic approaches have been influenced by the learning experiences of its learners - from broadly-based general education to specifically-designed management training.

Nowadays language schools offer general English programmes for students from different backgrounds, grouped according to language ability. However, many language schools have added Business English to their portfolio of subjects.

More and more universities and colleges are launching programmes for their pre-service students in order to prepare them for the professional world in terms of language and business. Business English programme is offered to students following a degree course in Business Management, Economics or a related subject. This means that teachers who previously provided general English teaching are being required to offer Business English. However, the scope of Business English varies enormously between institutions, syllables and programmes display very different features, content and objectives.

Objectives of teaching Business English

Pre-1975, the emphasis of most language teaching was on developing knowledge of the language forms in terms of grammar and vocabulary. Students learned about the language rather than how to use it.

Later on the communicative revolution established fluency as the prime objective of language teaching and language training. Language drills were replaced by pair work and small group communicative activities. Subsequently it led to sharp debate on the prime objective of language teaching. Three dimensions were identified, namely accuracy, fluency, effectiveness, making three - cornered contest. Accuracy secures correct use of language forms; fluency claims that if you can speak, you will be able to get your message over; effectiveness claims that it is the total performance which determines the success of communication.

Accuracy comprises the rules of grammar, the domain of vocabulary and pronunciation.

Fluency comprises two criteria: the speed of speaking and the effort of speaking. However there is no agreed limit of speed within which speech should flow. It is the perception of the listener which is the base of fluency and it depends on impressionistic feature of speech.

Business English programmes also need to concentrate on the criterion of effectiveness. This criterion comprises the impact of delivery, the variety of media, the conciseness of communication. Effectiveness is a stylistic feature of communication. As with fluency there are no absolute rules of effectiveness, the elements of effective communication are not susceptible to scientific measurement. So these three objectives - accuracy, fluency and effectiveness - require different knowledge and skills. It is important to decide which one the training course shall concentrate on.

Major elements of Business English

Corresponding with learner objectives: accuracy, fluency and effectiveness, there are two major elements as the building blocks for Business English course which aim to increase: language knowledge (reflecting the formal aspects of grammar, vocabulary and the sound system) and communication skills (presentations, meetings, negotiations, telephoning, written documentation). []

Language knowledge as it was mentioned reflects the formal aspect of

· grammar

· vocabulary

· pronunciation.

Speaking about grammar N. Brieger stated that there are any language categories specific to Business English. Business English can utilize all the language forms which exist in General English. Similarly there are no new categories which have been created for Business English. The only feature is that certain grammatical forms are more prevalent or less prevalent in Business English. [brieger] In analyzing the grammatical forms of a Business English much attention has been paid to phrases, clauses and sentences, namely connection and transition between ideas, sentences and clauses. [brieger] Since Business English is based on the learners communication skills Brieger accentuated that each of us has our own individual features in speech and writing which identify the using of particular grammatical form. However, except in very restricted discourse (instructions) or specialist discourse (contracts, business letters) where the language categories will include the familiar usage of nouns, verb, articles, fixed phrases and expressions. But nevertheless Business Grammar does not differ from the grammar of General English. In this respect, the grammar of Business English needs to cover all the core grammatical areas of General English.

The second aspect of Business English is vocabulary that represents the main building blocks of functional meaning in language. Since Business English covers areas and topics not commonly used by general speakers, it has its own specialist vocabulary. In Business English, vocabulary is central to communication where clearly defined topics are under consideration. The range of vocabulary depends on the professional issues and topics you are dealing with. Today's professionals need to be equipped to handle a wide rang of management issues both within and outside their specialist areas. Besides this the social side of communication must not be ignored - the ability to speak about social, economic, political issues which requires its own set of vocabulary. Consequently it is impossible to detach Business vocabulary from General vocabulary as these are two closely associated aspects. Before learning Business English learner should be well familiarized with general vocabulary. However, in addition to the specialist vocabulary, there is a need for general vocabulary, derived from a common core of basic terms.

There is also another key issue - pronunciation. Business English involves different communication acts: presentations, negotiations, telephoning which require delivery that the audience is going to understand. In fact pronunciation is that what can impede understanding. It is important to do an intensive pronunciation work. Though Brieger asserted that it is impossible to reach native-speaker pronunciation and there are no specific rules relating to the pronunciation of Business English. As achieving native-speaker pronunciation is regarded almost impossible, the learner's effort to approximate to the sound system of English are allowed greater latitude.

In addition to language knowledge which were mentioned above Teaching Business English aims to increase also communication skills. These are skills of oral and written communication which enable people to convey meaning to others, either explicitly, via a verbal or written message or implicitly (body language). Teaching business communication skills include improving: presentation skills, meeting skills, socializing skills, telephoning skills, skills of writing documents.

A presentation is a talk given by one individual to one or more listeners. The key to improving presentation skills is firstly to agree what constitutes an effective presentation. These are content of the presentation, structure of the presentation, delivery that refers to the techniques used by the speaker (voice, body language, eye contact, visual aids), and of course language that refers to the traditional categories of language forms (grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation).

Meetings and discussions are very broad performance areas covering large, formal meetings, small, informal meetings and discussions of all kinds.

The interests of Business English learners are focused on practical skills required to control meetings (as chairperson) and to contribute to meetings (as participants).

Telephoning is another performance area in Teaching Business English. This is because the language used on the telephone is highly conventional and formalized. Many words and expressions are used only on the telephone. Telephoning also required well-developed skills in exchanging information, clarifying and explaining. Telephoning skills require taking/leaving messages, making appointments, exchanging information, finishing the calls.

Socializing is a performance area that is not exclusive to Business English. Many Business English learners feel quite insecure about the social situations they must deal with. Socializing includes three distinct types of situation and behaviour. First one is transactional situation for example ordering a meal in restaurant. The second type of situation is where people make contact with others for business reason around the actual discussion of business - for example, greeting and saying goodbye. The third one is where speakers interact with no fixed purpose just to create more relaxed atmosphere and get to know each other better. All Business English learners should be ready to such kind of situations that is why teaching socializing skills is a necessary component of Business English programme.

Most people in business have at some stage to be able to write, understand or process business letters. That is why Business English Training works on developing writing skills these are writing correspondences (letters, faxes and e-mails), memos, reports. The objectives of teaching writing communication is to develop writing skills and appropriate style of written documents, to extend knowledge of standard phrases and structures for correspondences and report-writing, to review parameters for effective layout of documents.

It is evident that teaching communication skills comprise improving learners' performance skills. What is important about teaching performance skills is that they should be taught in term of accuracy, fluency and effectiveness. Thought, it is stated that teaching communication skills is based on effective transmission of a message and it is less good at developing language accuracy or communicative fluency. The communicative approach provides the learners with an opportunity to use language for communication purposes without focusing on accuracy. [pdf] Since the main goal of communicative language teaching is communicative competence and its emphasis is on communication, theorists state that CLT does not involve teaching grammar at all. This idea has been argued by Thompson who claims that learners will learn better if they themselves are involved in what they learn and see the relevancy in their learning. The other misconception is CLT only teaches speaking skills. As CLT emphasizes communication skills, it seems that CLT ignores the other three important skills in language learning which are listening, reading, writing. Again Thompson points out that communication does not only take place through speech, but it also involves writing and reading. It is a concrete statement because when we write we are actually communicating with our reader and when we read, we are having communication with the text.

The concept of intercultural communication

Communication skills are culture-universal in most aspects but also contain culture-specific element.

There are two broadly different categories - non-native speakers using English among themselves, non-native speakers using English to native speakers of the language. The problem is that non-native speakers may make «social» mistakes.

Subsequently it is important to consider another level at which we can see communication - namely in terms of its role in a cross-cultural environment.

Intercultural communication may be defined as an ability, possibly more acquired than innate, to engage in successful communicative interactions with people representing different languages, cultures, social mores and norms of behavior. It implies not only mastery and judicious use of language in itself but also skillful application of suitable social conventions with cultural sensitivity, political correctness as well as attention to needs and wants of a given group or a particular individual.

Nowadays in the world of work the range of business knowledge and skills needed to perform effectively has increased. Business people are much more likely today to find themselves together with others from different national and cultural backgrounds. The internationalization of the business world has provided a new challenge for Business English Teachers. However, the role of the Business English Teacher is to teach language and communication. It is not teacher's responsibility to teach culture, change behavior patterns. The teacher should be aware of the interrelationship between language, communication and culture and help the learners to better understand the interrelationship, to avoid conflicts because of innocent use of inappropriate language or communication.

Teachers of business English

Communication skills are central to the activity of today's business professional. Business people actually needed lots of help with presentation skills, with meetings, negotiating even socializing or writing reports, e-mails. Teaching Business English include an effective communicator alongside and an effective use of language. As a result, the demands on BE teachers have increased to some extent. Teacher of Business English also need to be able to teach communication skills.

Constant language change introduces new forms; communication adapts to evolving behavioral and technological standards; and business both initiates and responds to changing practices. This requires the range of skills needed by the Business English teacher. Teachers should have a high degree of proficiency in the target language since the lesson in the classroom tends to be less predictable, apart from good knowledge of General English, Business English teacher should have good business background that comprise knowledge of Business vocabulary and common business situations which learners are going to deal with.

Language teaching and learning has entered a phase which takes a more constructivist view of learning emphasising personal learning and discovery on the part of the learner, with more task-based, collaborative work between learners, and a more facilitating role for the teacher.

The role of the teacher is not to provide an orchestration of books through a sense of structured activities, nor just to use the book as a source of teaching materials but to:

· Clearly devolve the task of working through the book to the students.

· Ensure that discussion of the task and the project is conducted in the way as it was mentioned using the language of business and professional meetings.

· Act as consultant for the students.

· Direct group activities, provide different types of activities.

There are different thoughts according to the role of teacher. Some schools of methodology see the teacher as ideal language model and commander of classroom activity (Audio-Lingual Method) whereas others see the teacher as background facilitator and classroom colleague to the learners (Communicative Language Teaching).

While Brieger stated that just as there is no single Business English, there is no single profile of the Business English teacher. The profile is fashioned by the characteristics of the working environment and its view of Business English, as well as by the demands of the learners. However, it is important to remember that the majority of teachers are non-native speakers, largely trained within the local community.

Business English versus General English

Having inquired into the objectives of Business English, its main elements, the peculiarities of Business teachers it becomes obvious that there is specific difference between BE and GE. This issue evokes heated debate between theorists. It is thought that «business English» is little more than general English in a business context; though there is another thought that in Business English much more student-specific materials can be conceived and a large element of job-specific vocabulary work involved. There is the truth in each of these arguments that leads to compromise between them. The compromise is between general and specific language, between communication and grammatical accuracy.

What makes Business English different from General English is partly related to language and partly to communication.

The language to be introduced and practiced in the Business English classroom reflects the professional background of the learner.

The channels of communication to be developed and practiced reflect the professional world of presentations, meetings and telephoning rather than general communication in discussion.

Both General English and Business English need contexts for developing language knowledge and communication skills. General English uses topics or themes; Business English takes professional contents which provides a range of settings or themes related to professional functions, such as marketing or finance.

General English courses tend to focus on developing accuracy and fluency. Business English programmes also need to concern themselves with the criterion of effectiveness.

Business English teachers need the following mix of knowledge and skills: ELT methodology, specific communication skills training, knowledge of business content while General English teachers need only ELT methodology and general communication skills training.

Having defined the main scope of Business English it turns out that teaching Business English brings together a range of disparate disciplines. It aims not only at improving grammar or vocabulary knowledge but at developing the ability to combine grammar and vocabulary and at extending communication skills as well.

The teaching of Business English has received contributions from ELT methodologies which teach language knowledge and language skills through communicative activities; communication training which develops the effectiveness of the total communication process; management disciplines which provide professional content on key areas.

The teaching of Business English brings together three areas: teaching, those are pedagogic skills involved in running training programmes; English - knowledge of the language and understanding of the role of communication in professional situations; business that embraces familiarity with the key issues. []

Teaching Business communication skills that includes teaching presentation skills, meeting skills, telephoning skills, socializing skills and skills of writing documents can be accomplished through a range of exercises and activities (role play, dialogs).

Teaching communication skills is possible through interaction. The first step is to create a classroom environment in which real communication can take place and can be practiced continuously. Interaction can also be encouraged by not over-correcting, by asking plenty of questions, and by giving people time to answer.

What is important about teaching Business communication skills is that the process of teaching the learners to communicate should be carried out strictly in term of accuracy, fluency and effectiveness.

Game (Please take the floor)

Divide the students into small groups of two or five players. Provide them with board sheets and a set of task cards. (Supplements) This game is intended as a revision activity. The winner of the game is the person who gets from start to finish. Each time when the student land the square he has to answer the question. If the task asks for specific language to make a particular point at a meeting, two possible answers are suggested on the card. The students make a note of their own answers to compare them with the suggested answers later on.

Teaching telephoning skills

Above the scope of Business English were summarized in terms of developing language knowledge and developing communication skills.

Teaching Business Communication skills is widely connected with grammar. As there is no separate grammar for business, Business English is based on General Grammar.

For example one of the most important grammar topic are articles namely countable and uncountable. Uncountable articles do not usually take the articles a/an. However in partnerships you often find an article.

The purpose of this activity is to develop and practice the professional communication skill of telephoning in terms of telephone manner and telephone phrases.

Most people in business have at some stage to be able to write, understand or process business letters. That is why Business English Training works on developing writing skills these are writing correspondences (letters, faxes and e-mails), memos, reports. The objectives of teaching writing communication is to develop writing skills and appropriate style of written documents, to extend knowledge of standard phrases and structures for correspondences and report-writing, to review parameters for effective layout of documents.

There are a good starting point for examining aspects of layout and style and learners can gain a lot from looking at well-designed and well-written documents.

If students wish to learn to write good business letters, they are more likely to make an effort if they asked to write on blank A4 paper in block style inventing or copying a company letterhead for authenticity. Teacher provide students with the sample of business letter (letter of complain, letter of recommendation, CV) and ask them to write this letter based on the structure of the given letter.

business skill pronunciation communication

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