Being a business English teacher

Finding a teaching job in the corporate environment


Why isn't there more demand for business English courses in Thailand? Well, most of the available textbooks are as dull as dishwater and are far too generic. If they were designed for international markets then most of the countries in Southeast Asia didn't appear on the list.

The delivery of courses can also be sub-standard. Some people have a bee in their bonnets about teachers that don't have degrees. I feel the same way about people who teach business English and don't have commercial backgrounds. Why? Because they can't bring any empathy to the role or add any real value. They're not teaching a subject, they're teaching a textbook.

While we're on this touchy subject, I can tell you that none of my academic qualifications, with perhaps the exceptions on an English Language O-Level and an English Literature A-Level, have helped me to be a better teacher.

My Trinity TEFL was only a starter and I am so far removed from it now having developed my own teaching style over the years.

I also have professional qualifications from the marketing communications industry. These have marginally helped where teaching business English is concerned. More importantly though, I held middle and senior management positions for big-name direct marketing agencies in London for over ten years and this experience has definitely come in handy.

I taught the Business English Certificate [BEC] in Cambodia about seven years ago. As a newbie I was asked to observe some experienced teachers. One had clearly mastered the teachers guide and was managing to deliver the bare minimum to get students to pass the course. The other two were barely out of university and didn't have a clue what they were talking about. And this was in front of an audience of senior managers and successful businesspeople. I wasn't impressed either.

Many people teach business English because they have to because the private language centres where they work offer it alongside their general and conversational classes. But don't get me wrong, I'm not writing this to criticise or wag a finger, but to add a profitable solution to the equation.

I teach businesses privately. And I offer them specific courses that match their needs to the letter. An economic downturn is when businesses need to invest more carefully, and generic courses just don't cut the mustard.

If you work for a private language centre it is unlikely that you will be able to use any of this. Your employer has far too many overheads to go around changing things; the costs of their offices and classrooms, stocks of textbooks, marketing initiatives and staff salaries, to name but four.

If you do work like me though, then the following should be of interest to you. Please let me know how you get on if you decide to run with it.

Preamble over, what I'm talking about are weekend seminars and special evening courses. And there's not a sniff of a textbook here either because the courses use real life simulations and role-plays throughout.

If you don't have a commercial background, then you'll need to revert to the Internet, Amazon.com and the big bookstores for industry specific content. And you may not find what you're looking for either.

If you do have a commercial background however, here's what I suggest. Draw-up a hit list of industries that you want to target. Banks with foreign exchanges and Western Union services for example.

Consider all of the touchpoints where English is required; face-to-face, telephone, email, fax, website and paperwork, etc.

Then create a list of scenarios, good, bad and indifferent where banking staff need to interact with foreigners. Make the list as extensive as possible and don't leave anything out.

Then create some sample simulations and role-plays. Write them as scripts. Set the scene and provide some dialogue. It'll need to be everyday English that staff can retain and that foreign customers who are also speaking English as a second language can understand.

When you know approximately how long your sample would take to deliver, i.e. 2 hours, you can then tally up your other scenarios and have a good idea of how long a weekend seminar or special evening course should take. And from there you can work out your costs; course creation, materials and actual teaching time.

Get a local business directory and you're ready to go to market. Make appointments to see senior managers, and try to go for regional rather than local headquarters. Give them copies of your sample and outline your costs. Explain that they can't buy anything similar from private language centres and that if they can the costs will be considerably higher. Tell that you have no overheads beyond course creation and delivery and that your courses are also more realistic because they are actually held at the place of business. You can even offer prospective clients a free trial class.

If, after reading this, you want to see a sample simulation or role-play, then teaching business English probably isn't for you. I stress again the need to have a commercial background and if you can't understand the benefits of the approach I've outlined above it's because you don't have one. Sorry!


Comments

For the same reason that a 'trainer' would be addressing himself as 'Ajarn' would be my guess, Paul!

By Geoff Richards, Isaan (5 years ago)

Geoff Richards, just an observation.

I also worked in marcoms in a previous life.

Why would someone with 35 years experience be asking such simple questions?!

By Paul Thomas, Thailand (5 years ago)

@Gary

You should go on a mystery shopping tour of business English providers in Bangers to gauge the current market rates, and then undercut these because you don't have any overheads like they do.

By Geoff Richards, Isaan (5 years ago)

Great advice Geoff. Can you give an update on what the going rate per hour is to charge a company or students for teaching Business English in Bangkok. I also want to teach a more specialized course on marketing as i have 35 years experience in this field. What should i look at charging per hour for a specialized course like this. What times do corporates prefer teaching to take place? During working hours? after work? weekends?

By Ajarn Gary, Bangkok (5 years ago)

Thanks also, Pete.

Yes, I believe this to be the future of teaching English.

And in general, too. Not just business English.

I mainly teach Prathom 1 to 4 and my students love roleplays and simulations. Especially shopping and restaurant ones.

I also put together a 'Ben 10' role-play and sim for some lazy P3 students. They went for it like there was no tomorrow.

And you should have seen their faces when I pointed out to them that they'd been speaking English for 50 minutes! LOL

By Geoff Richards, Isaan (6 years ago)

I agree whole heartedly with the sentiments of this article. I would combine General English course material with the scenarios Geoff talked of for specific role playing. Indeed, I have just finished teaching a 120 hour business course to the senior management of a global brand's Thai arm based around them being able to hold monthly departmental meetings in English. Obviously, there are guide lines one can follow but the content of role play was specific for each department and meant each member of the group had to be deconstructed to his/her most basic elements of departmental responsibilities and challenges and then reconstructed in English (with all the industry related terms and vocabulary pertenant to each manager).

Geoff is talking about task based English teaching which has been heralded as the 'new way'. This is now considered to be to the Communicative Approach the replacement that Homo Sapiens were to the Neandathals!

Excellent stuff, Geoff!

Cheers

By Pete Brady, Thailand (6 years ago)

Thanks for the positive feedback, Chris! :o)

By Geoff Richards, Isaan (6 years ago)

This is a great article and I am in full agreement and thanks for the tips on marketing to the local companies. I am an ex-Business and I.T consultant and trainer from England. I have been developing my own materials because the books don't cut it. I also use role plays including using 3D games animation software to create real world situations. I have just created a computer based TOEIC course including the New Speaking and writing sections. I believe that TOEIC is now a well balanced Business test having Listening, reading, writing and Speaking. I am just about to set up my own school in Latkrabang focusing on Business students. However, I have also been thinking about targeting businesses directly (as corporate training was what I used to do). Your tips about approaching them I sure will prove very helpful. Thanks.

By Chris Williams, Bangkok (6 years ago)

Post your comment

Comments are moderated and will not appear instantly.

Featured Jobs

English Teachers

1 hour ago

฿400+ /hour

Bangkok


Professional Teachers for Next Academic Year

1 day, 3 hours ago

฿40,000+ /month

Chiang Mai


English Camp MC

1 day, 6 hours ago

฿30,000+ /month

Various locations


Kindergarten Assistant Coordinator

1 day, 10 hours ago

฿60,000+ /month

Bangkok


TEFL Trainer / Facilitator

2 days, 2 hours ago

฿35,000+ /month

Chiang Mai


Corporate ESL Teachers

3 days, 5 hours ago

฿600+ /hour

Bangkok


TEFL Courses & Training

Get off to a good start...

Take your course
in Thailand!

Training Directory

Featured Teachers

  • jean


    Certificate

    South African, 26 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • JOSEPH REY


    BSc

    Filipino, 37 years old. Currently living in Iraq

  • Kelzang


    Certificate

    Bhutanese, 25 years old. Currently living in Bhutan

  • JEFF


    BA

    American, 51 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Leah Noreen


    MA

    Filipino, 33 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Ivy


    BEd

    Filipino, 26 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Aldwin


    Diploma

    Filipino, 24 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Florida


    MA

    Filipino, 42 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Remaica Hase


    Diploma

    Filipino, 19 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Lars


    MA

    Dane, 51 years old. Currently living in Thailand

Sponsors

Mediakids Academy

Top TEFL job placement provider with competitive benefits and an unforgettable experience.

English Planet

To be internationally recognized as the leader in quality English language training.

Smartys

Vacancies for in-house and corporate teachers at the finest schools in Suphanburi City

Eduplus

We get you a job! Options for school placements all over Thailand

BSI Broker

Brokers for ajarn health insurance and for all your Thailand insurance needs.

Siam Computer & Language

Competitive teacher packages with benefits and bonus incentives

Kajonkietsuksa School

First bilingual school in Phuket. Vacancies for kindergarten, primary and secondary teachers.

Kasintorn St Peter School

Progressive English program school near Bangkok employing NES and Filipino teachers

Inlingua Thailand

Premier language school with many branches and corporate training.

Space available

Become an ajarn dot com sponsor

The Hot Spot


Teacher mistakes

Teacher mistakes

What are the most common mistakes that teachers make when they are about to embark on a teaching career in Thailand? We've got them all covered.


The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

Many schools ask for demo lessons before they hire. What should you the teacher be aware of?


Renting an apartment?

Renting an apartment?

Before you go pounding the streets, check out our guide and know what to look out for.


Contributions welcome

Contributions welcome

If you like visiting ajarn.com and reading the content, why not get involved yourself and keep us up to date?


Will I find work in Thailand?

Will I find work in Thailand?

It's one of the most common questions we get e-mailed to us. So find out exactly where you stand.


Can you hear me OK?

Can you hear me OK?

In today's modern world, the on-line interview is becoming more and more popular. How do you prepare for it?


Air your views

Air your views

Got something to say on the topic of teaching, working or living in Thailand? The Ajarn Postbox is the place. Send us your letters!