Business English might be your TEFL Ticket

As you have seen, much of the current material on this blog comes from the great questions you readers ask. Today we will discuss another one.

This one will be more in a Q and A style than most others.

The reader was interested in teaching ESP in possibly the Middle East.

Hi Richard (name changed to protect the innocent).

You wrote:  You mentioned that you had experience teaching for corporate companies.

Yes, probably more experience than most teachers.

When you taught, for example, Roche Pharmaceuticals (Taiwan), did you adapt the English course to suit the pharmaceutical industry e.g. English for special purposes?

Yes, absolutely. It was adapted based on a good Needs Analysis of what they felt they were having problems with. The changes were not based on a preconceived opinion about what I might have thought they needed.  (you can download a good Needs Analysis form at the bottom of this page: CLICK HERE)

Would you say today, that corporate companies want specialized courses to fit their industry, so if you did teach a petroleum company, would it be necessary to study courses in geology/petroleum engineering etc.

Yes, they expect a course that is focused on their business needs. No, it won’t be necessary to study their specialty, though it is important to understand and have an idea of what they do on the job, when and how they use and need English, and with which problems they need your help. You don’t have to show up as a know-it-all in their field, but a good needs analysis when you arrive is very important.

Also, which industry sector needs English instructors the most?

There is no specific place, but I would say that there is a need for English instructors almost everywhere in almost every industry. It has more to do with where, rather than what. Each country has their own needs. For example, if you are going to the Gulf States you will most likely teach in the petroleum and perhaps the hospitality industry, because that is their need. In Nepal the focus will probably be on tourism and hospitality as in Switzerland it might be on banking and hospitality.

These days many students study abroad, so their English is a higher level than students 30 years ago, so where would there be a niche market for English instructors in corporate firms?

It is the same answer as above. There is a global need and it’s not always where you might think it is. It is not just about foreigners communicating with English speakers. No, it goes further. English is the only common language between, for example, a Chinese exporter and the Brazilian who needs the product. Or a Japanese construction company working closely with local engineers installing a high speed train in Bulgaria.

And finally, what was the most rewarding aspect of your job?

The greatest reward was helping people to improve their career prospects.

TED’s Tips™ #1: It will be better to focus your ESP skills to an industry, in which you are familiar and preferably experienced in, rather than looking for a new industry and trying to adapt to it.

TED’s Tips™ #2: Remember, businesses want to see a final product and the same goes for hiring a teacher in their company – they want to see results. They hire you to solve their communication problems and it is your job to get to the root of what your ESP students need. If you can’t give them results, you will quickly be out the door.  But, if you know the industry well, you will have the solutions they need.

Teaching Internships in China