TBL with my business English students

TBL part 2: My business English class

My friend told me the other day that I have my fingers in many yummy pies. I do. I teach general English mostly to kids, I do business English with adult learners from other parts of Europe and I also teach EAP courses during the summer in the UK so it is quite a mix, and I love it!
In my last post, I talked about a TBL lesson I tried with my Ielts prep. class (posted on January 16th) and this time I will talk about using the same lesson with my Business English students. the material I used in both classes was the same and it was based on this video
The first question you may ask is “Why would I use a video based on  a true story of a 5 year old saving his dad’s life with a business English student?”. Well, three reasons:

  • It helps them with “small talk”.
  • It facilitates practicing a long turn-using past tenses and other genre features of a narrative.
  • It is fun (are you allowed to have fun during a BE session? YES!!).

According to research “small talk” and using English for social purposes has proven to be very important for BE students (Basturkmen, 2006) and should not be neglected. Story telling does give the students an opportunity to talk for a longer time. How often is it that you just have you as a  teacher asking a question and the learner answering it? In real life, your BE students may have to talk about something that happened to them in the past, so in my view, story telling can be part of a BE syllabus. Finally, it is fun. So, they are business people and you teach them how to negotiate, deliver a presentation, send an email/memo, but your session with them may be a break from their hard day, so why not try something entertaining from time to time?
Feedback I got from my own learners
Most of my learners enjoyed it. Especially when they realized their story and the true story were completely different! It was fun, interesting.
There was one that did not like it though, cause she doesn’t like using her imagination and telling stories (ok, fair point) but she did note that it did help her practice using past tenses (yay).
Such lessons can be quite demanding for the not so creative students so it is something that should be taken into consideration. They are great for the freer conversational session which can be part of business English syllabuses where the focus is on everyday English.
Final thoughts
I will definitely use this lesson again but instead of telling them to tell me a story about an emergency, any emergency, I would make it more related to their work. An emergency at work and how you dealt with it. So basically keep the TBL steps just change the follow up production tasks.
Till next time…..

Basturkmen, H (2006) Ideas and options in English for specific purposes. New Jersey: LEA


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