Cool Corporate English Consciousness

giving your corporate classes the best approach

Dante Cuevas

Teaching in today's EFL corporate classroom requires a "Cool Corporate English Consciousness". Because of the great emergence of multinational companies and globalization there has been a surging demand for corporate English training all around the world (English has long ago been established as the standard language for international business). Many students attend classes out of professional necessity; they require more than just textbook work to satisfy their communicative needs. Many times textbooks have strong limitations in choosing motivating material because they have to "guess" what a student will be motivated in based on current streams of popular culture. For example, if a student has a pending business presentation (in English) in a few days, which of the following topics do you think will be more motivating for him/her?

  1. A lesson dealing with exotic getaways, fascinating tourist sites and tourism musts (seemingly more interesting) or
  2. A lesson covering the ins and outs of confident presentation giving?

Odds are, considering the situation, that the student will be more interested in the business presentation lesson (although the other lesson is in itself seemingly more interesting) simply because of the circumstances the student finds him/herself in. This happens often, corporate students will be left wanting some communicative teaching because of a lack of comprehension on behalf of their language school. Most schools have managed to streamline the teaching process to placing a trained teacher in a classroom where he/she must follow a textbook in order to prepare students for an eventual test. This approach is not enough for the majority of students, special consideration is required. What are some other topics that you can choose from in order to have your students' needs considered? Here's a list:

  1. Field orientation (giving students a complete English orientation in their respective field: ex. Hotel terminology, procedures, processes etc.)
  2. What's new in ________ (researching current streams of development in students' respective field ex. CNN, Wall Street Journal etc?)
  3. Teleconferencing Workshops
  4. Out of town workshops (help with cultural awareness in the U.S., as well as commonly used colliloquy and idiomatic expressions)

Adding these elements to your planning give your students' much needed consideration, one of your goals for the classroom should probably be to help the student perform his/her professional duties in English. It's not just about helping your students to speak everyday English (the kind that will them pump gas and ask questions at a supermarket), it's about helping them deal with the rapid rate of speech in teleconferences, the uncertainty of being in a different country when they have to go to conventions, and the company emails they receive that leave them puzzled. Corporate classrooms represent a large and growing proportion of the English learning going on (at least here in Mexico and various other countries) and, unfortunately, their training is not much different from that of an ordinary classroom.

These are simply some of the many options you can choose from to incorporate that "cool corporate consciousness" into your classroom needed to have happy and satisfied students. There is more to a classroom, however, (corporate or not) than strictly business, if you follow this approach do not forget to tie-in material relevant to students' other communicative desires, musical tastes, and other mundane topics of interests. They will give your class some crucial added dimension. Much more can be elaborated on this topic; this is simply a wake up call to all the language schools that are not including these elements in their curriculum, it will do much good to the entire language learning community to integrate these new principles into current teaching. I began using these tools sometime ago and the difference in my classrooms is enormous, you have but to try this approach once to discover its immense potential.

© Dante Cuevas 2007

Dante Cuevas has a liberal arts degree from SouthWest Texas University and a Teacher's Diploma. He currently resides in Cuernavaca, training executives from different international and multinational companies.

Business English

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