24.12.2019
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How to bring soft skills into the Business classroom

You are teaching Business English, aren’t you? Do you plan to teach Business English? Then, you should know that you are teaching busy people. They can get distracted with some urgent calls, they may come to the lesson feeling exhausted, they may be not focused during the lesson because at work they have some serious issues. That makes our job even more challenging; along with English, we should teach them something else that they can find useful and practical.

In the Business English course, we usually teach specific skills; report writing, email writing, marketing vocabulary, international business, etc. and we usually do this because we do need analysis and understand or negotiate what they need. The skills that they need to learn usually play an important role in the result. The progress is easily assessed and marked.

Read related: Needs analysis in teaching

However, what else we can do to make our lessons more saturated and spicy, is to teach them soft skills in the Business English context. You can choose what soft skills your student may need in the position they have. In my experience, I had students who were happy with such soft skills as conflict management and stress management in customer service, others were satisfied with such soft skills as time management and negotiation skills. There are several skills that you can teach but the most important thing here is not to transform your Business English lesson into soft skills training. This should be done gently, with good taste and logic, content-wise and in a student-centered environment. 

Here is a sample planning strategy you could use to bring soft skills into your classroom. You already know your student, you understand his or her needs.

Step 1

You make the list of soft skills that you plan to integrate into your course. You may choose to discuss it with a student or not; it will depend on the competence of the student about the learning itself and whether the student can think out of the box.

Step 2

Choose minimum two language skills that you will use to teach or train a particular soft skill. It means, you choose either one reading text and one listening. Or you could ask them to make a short speech about the importance of that particular skill and then write recommendations to someone to use that skill.

Step 3

Write a detailed lesson plan on how you will use the materials or activities during the lesson. Remember, this lesson plan is not about Present, Practice and Produce (PPP), but this is more like Guided Discovery or Task-based lesson plan.

Step 4

While writing the learning objectives, do not forget to include language learning objectives as the student should feel and be sure that this is a language class. For example, you could think about practicing the use of modal verbs in the context of improving presentation skills. Then your learning objective will read the following:By the end of the lesson you will be able to use modal verbs in the context of giving recommendations or instructions.

In the end, you can bring any soft skill that you think your student needs, but do not forget that language teaching is still your task 1. However, soft skills or people skills make the lesson more interesting and useful. Even if your student seems too self-confident, believe me they reflect later about the information.

And remember, today’s teaching is about being creative and innovative.

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