Joseph Hunt

A better way of delivering business English classes

Why isn't there a higher demand for business English courses in Thailand?

Why isn't there a higher demand for business English courses in Thailand? 

I guess one major issue is that many of the available textbooks are incredibly boring and overly generic. These materials often seem designed for a global market that doesn't include Southeast Asia.

Another significant problem is the quality of course delivery. Some people focus on whether teachers have degrees, but I believe it's crucial for business English instructors to have a background in commerce. Without this experience, they can't empathize with their students or add genuine value. They're essentially just teaching from a textbook, not imparting real-world knowledge.

Reflecting on my own education, none of my academic qualifications, except perhaps my English Language O-Level and English Literature A-Level, have made me a better teacher. My Trinity TEFL was merely a starting point, and over the years, I've developed my own teaching style far removed from that initial training.

Business experience has been the most beneficial

In addition to my TEFL certification, I have professional qualifications in marketing and these have been somewhat helpful, but my decade-long experience in middle and senior management roles at major direct marketing agencies in London has been far more beneficial.

Many people teach business English because it's a requirement at the private language centers where they work, which offer it alongside general and conversational classes. I'm not here to criticize but to propose a profitable solution.

I sometimes teach business English privately, offering tailored courses that precisely meet the needs of my clients. During economic downturns, businesses need to invest wisely, and generic courses just don't make the cut. If you work at a private language center, implementing these ideas may be challenging due to the overhead costs of offices, classrooms, textbooks, marketing, and salaries.

A more tailored approach

For those doing private teaching like me, here’s a strategy you might find useful. 

The approach involves weekend seminars and special evening courses, without relying on textbooks. Instead, these courses use real-life simulations and role-plays. If you lack a commercial background, you'll need to turn to online resources, Amazon, and major bookstores for industry-specific content, which may not always meet your needs. However, if you do have commercial experience, start by identifying industries you want to target, such as banks with foreign exchange services and Western Union branches. 

Consider all the touchpoints where English is required: face-to-face interactions, phone calls, emails, websites, and paperwork. Create a comprehensive list of scenarios where banking staff might need to interact with foreigners. Develop sample simulations and role-plays, writing them as scripts with dialogue that staff can easily remember and that foreign customers can understand. Estimate the time needed for each sample, then use this to gauge the duration of your seminars or courses. From there, calculate your costs for course creation, materials, and teaching time.

With a local business directory in hand, you're ready to market your services. Arrange meetings with senior managers, preferably at regional rather than local headquarters. Present your samples and outline your costs, emphasizing that your tailored courses are more cost-effective and realistic than what private language centers offer. Highlight that your courses are conducted on-site, adding to their practicality. You could even offer a free trial class if you wanted.

If you feel the need to see a sample simulation or role-play after reading this, business English teaching might not be for you. The commercial background is crucial, and if you don't see the benefits of this approach, it's likely because you lack that experience.


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