Can you teach Business English if you are not a specialist?

Can you teach Business English if you are not a specialist?

Some people may claim that you cannot teach Business English if you are not a specialist, that you need to understand the jargon and workflow, values and logic of the business process to be able to teach and feel confident. They argue that the confidence level of a teacher is crucial in teaching business professionals; this will build trust. And as soon as trust is there, the productivity of the lessons is guaranteed.

However, before I move on proving that you do not need to be an expert in Business to teach Business English, I want to write a big YES to the question if you can teach Business English if you are not a specialist. Before I became an IBTA certified business trainer, I used to teach Business English. So believe me, you can teach Business English even if you are not a specialist.

  1. YOU CAN  because

your role is to help your students learn the language and improve their skills to be able to use English confidently. Business English course is about teaching language skills that your students usually use in their current or future workplace. So, as long as you keep focused and close to the content familiar or desired by them, and improve their language skills (reading, listening, speaking and writing) in that content, you are safe. So, even when you are teaching grammar, try to use the examples and tasks in Business English content. Remember, you are the linguist, and there is no other way; people in business do not become linguists. Do not get frustrated and think that you do not know the sphere your students work; you DO NOT NEED to know that. You can investigate it with your students.

  1. YOU CAN unless

you are enthusiastic to know about a range of topics related to business and in case you do not know investigate and research on those topics your students need. Enthusiasm and curiosity play an important role in teaching Business English. As you may have encountered, Business English can have different accents and focus on the content. If you keep curious and find more details and investigate more materials, this will definitely pay back.  Keep motivated and inspired, and this will inspire your students as well. Remember, the open-mindedness and enthusiasm of a teacher play a crucial role in the quality of a lesson they teach. Keep asking questions, show genuine interest, listen and observe; you will develop a productive collaboration with your students.

  1. YOU CAN, provided that …

you choose good resources to teach Business English. There are a number of online platforms, you can use to present and practice the content your students need. You may even study their company website to find out more about it, and your professionalism as a linguist will help you identify and plan the strategy required to teach the specific content. You may ask them to bring in their portfolio or even their job description as a start point. Any documentation or material related to the work they do (of course, it should be legal and not confidential) may be of a good use for you. For example, if I cannot find any material, I ask my student to tell me about their big competitors, and I investigate their websites to learn more about the profile of their work. Believe me, it gives a lot of material to work. 

In a nutshell, YES, you can teach Business English if you are not a specialist if you have the curiosity, motivation, energy and will. 



Lusine Stepanyan

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