Baron - My Philosophy for Teaching English for Business (I-TESL-J)
The Internet TESL Journal

My Philosophy for Teaching English for Business

Lawrence Baron
ljcbaron [at]

  1. A student needs to listen and understand as much as they need to speak. Inevitably all students want to speak English, but they forget the other half of the formula.

  2. My aim is to show my students how to communicate their message with the best possible language they can muster.

  3. English for non-native speakers is a business tool and it has to show dividends immediately. A company that invests in computer technology for its business operations does not wait years before it expects some returns. It is a question of degree.

  4. English for business is a real and living language so I use authentic and current material.

  5. My text books are newspapers (British/American) magazines, trade journals, technical texts, sources from the Internet, leaflets, brochures, company information, radio, TV and company videos. A text book is useful for background material whereas authentic material is an ideal source of up to date information. Keep up to date. It's the professional way.

  6. I emphasize to my students that they must find the time to study the basics of the language. Sessions are there to discuss questions, deal with problems, identify important or new aspects of the language and discover ways of learning.

  7. I give homework for those who want to do it and I give some written class work (ideas, opinions, letters, etc.) on a regular basis.

  8. If a student is not really interested in English they can do better than waste my time, the time of their colleagues and their time.

  9. I always focus on: the needs of the student and on specific objectives. These are usually identified after a few sessions.

  10. I always try to focus my sessions on: things that interest my students, things that the student can relate to, common experiences and things in common to the group. Have a common denominator. It works.

  11. My sessions are usually based on discussions. I incorporate corrections, grammar points and new vocabulary in the progress of the discussion. This takes some preparation and students don't have to fit to your lesson plan. Be prepared. (Yes, I did belong to the scouts when I was young.)

  12. The subjects and topics I choose for each session depend on the interests and needs of the students. This means that I have to be flexible on what I do. There are, however, two topics I make sure I cover, on separate occasions, with each group of new students. These are: problems they have with learning English and mistakes they make when using English. I spend between 15 and 20 minutes on the topic and then move on to discuss problems or mistakes in life, society, work etc. After all, I only want to make students aware and not self-conscious of their problems and mistakes with English.

  13. I aim to have all my students speak for the majority of the time. Expressing your opinion is important, but asking a why question will help all your students express themselves. Have ways and means to help your students speak.

  14. I am very particular about student participation; everybody must participate. However there are circumstances when a participant in a group is too tired in which case I leave it up to the person to join in. Quality time is the name of the game.

  15. I aim to have a light hearted and easy going atmosphere in my sessions. My students have high pressure and responsible jobs. I don't want to add to their stress and pressure in my sessions.

  16. Unless things can be organized otherwise, I'd sooner have a group made up of people with common interests, common characteristics or colleagues before taking linguistic skills into consideration. My aim is to achieve the best out of peer pressure and peer assistance. Without exception I found that people with common interests, common characteristics or colleagues go out of their way to help each other. Only when such a group cannot be organized will I use linguistic criteria or when a particular member's linguistic skills are way below the average.

  17. In class I consider myself as a team leader helping my team communicate in English. Attitude is all; belong to the team.

  18. I try to learn from my students as much as I try to help them learn about English.

  19. An interesting session is a successful session. I am always on the look out for new and interesting ideas and a very good source are my students.

  20. Regularly ask your students for feedback about your style of teaching and the content of your sessions. Go on...try it. It is good to learn and even better to feel good.

The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. IV, No. 11, November 1998