At the same time, scenario-based learning allows learners to focus on the target context of language usage (in our case -- business English communication), resulting in more student interest and involvement in the learning tasks. (Bin Baharum et al. 2007)
There are of course negative aspects to consider in this form of teaching. One of these aspects that come to the fore in many studies is that it is relatively expensive and requires small classrooms so that active participation can take place. This is a problem especially in developing counties where the number of students in classrooms tends to be large. One solution to this problem is a more extensive and intensive use of the Internet and online learning as an additional teaching and learning medium. This important aspect will be discussed in the following section.
2. Need Expectations: Teaching Business English to Second language users
Figure 2: Top language in terms of usage.
( Source: http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats7.htm
The second language student requires a different and more precise set of need expectations compared to first language learners. The situation becomes more complex when one considers business language usage. As one study notes, "Business English means different things to different people…" (How to Teach Business English). This implies that different groups or individuals may have different sets of needs or need expectations in terms of English language usage. For example, for some students learning business English means the learning the language that refers more to international trade and the language tools required to communicate in that environment. Other students might perceive business English as referring to their need to learn to use language that is appropriate for communications skills within a limited business context or environment. In other word, the point being made is that the learner's predilections, aims and intentions for the use of language should be taken into account in the teaching process. As one instructor recommends; "Learn exactly what your students expect. & #8230; Ask your students how they plan to use their English knowledge in their work and business lives" (How to Teach Business English).
It is also advisable to contextualize the teaching of language for business usage. This means that realistic scenarios and examples of business English should be used to teach. Role playing of typical business situations and scenarios, such as business meetings or business negotiations should be used in order to determine the actual and realistic use of language in situations that the student can identify with -- and which the student can find applicable to their expectations and needs in the business world. As one expert suggests:
Students should come away from these with a collection of phrases they'll really be able to use. Don't overlook small talk, either. Arm your students with the vocabulary to chat with English-speaking colleagues at business lunches and during breaks at international conferences. (How to Teach Business English)
Beside these general points, there are also some more practical aspects that illustrate the contemporary approach to the teaching of business English. For example, experts suggest that work on business presentations constitute an important need in the modern world. It is also a useful method for allowing students to hone their English skills using language that is particularly suited to the business environment. Another aspect that many educationists refer to is the importance of teaching correspondence skills. This is based on the view that ." Almost all professionals who use English for business will need to write letters, memos, invitations and short reports" (How to Teach Business English).
Another issue that comes to the fore in teaching business English is the usefulness of providing problem solving activities. This is an interesting and interactive method of teaching English. A good example of a problem solving project that can be used to involve students is how to market a new product; or selecting a new employee, and the language issues and usages that pertain to these situations (How to Teach Business English).
The use of the internet as a medium for teaching business English has many positive and exciting possibilities. This is a vast subject and one can only touch on a few important aspects here.
What makes the Internet so important for this type of learning is, firstly, the accessibility that if offers for both students and teachers in developing countries and the sophistication of applications today. As one pundit notes; "The Internet is a wonderful resource for teachers of business English. The Internet can enrich your lessons, provide you with authentic...
As one commentator notes,
The main difference between teaching general English and business English is setting contexts so that your students are practising language in settings they may find themselves in. The Internet is a great source of authentic materials which are ideal for use in business English classes, whatever the level of your students. (English for specific purposes: how to teach business English using the internet)
A good example of the way in which the Web can be used for teaching is the examination of business and corporate Websites. The vocabulary can be examined for instance on these sites and questions can be set that pertain to the type of language and its usage on these Websites. Another suggested exercise is a project in which students can view an airline website and scan the site for travel and business vocabulary. There are endless possibilities afforded by the Internet for various kinds of studies and exercises that can enhance business English usage. (English for specific purposes: how to teach business English using the internet).
The importance of English in a country like Thailand, and especially knowledge of business English, has been emphasized in various studies. There are a number of reasons for the importance of English in this country, which also affects the issues involved in the teaching of business English in this region.
Thailand is similar to many other developing countries, where new technology and the adoption of the Internet have"… resulted in a major transition in terms of business, education, science, and technological progress, all of which demand high proficiency in English" (Wiriyachitra). The need for English language proficiency has also been driven by the fact that the economy of the country has become focused on regional and international commerce and interaction. This is also linked to the downturn in the local economy over the past few years (Wiriyachitra). "Mergers, associations, and takeovers are common and English is used as the means to communicate, negotiate and execute transactions by participants…" (Wiriyachitra). This tends to emphasize the importance of business English, which has become essential in order to address the specific needs of the people of the country.
However, while the need for English proficiency and communication in the international business world is very high, the general level of English proficiency in the country has been described as being low in comparison to other countries in the region. "According to the speech given by the Minister of the Ministry of University Affairs on March 6, 2000, the average TOEFL scores of Thais are the same as for Mongolians but higher than for North Koreans and Japanese" (Wiriyachitra).
This situation is exacerbated by the fact that the Thai educational system is not structured in terms of a contextual or business orientated teaching of business English. As a result there is as a great need for the application of sound business English teaching principles in the country, which can provide the necessary foundations for business English proficiency. As one expert in this field categorically states;
It can be said that up to now English language teaching in Thailand has not prepared Thais for the changing world. Thailand will lag behind in the competitive world of business, education, science and technology if the teaching and learning of English is not improved. (Wiriyachitra)
At the same time there are increasing indications that the need for English proficiency in the business field has resulted in renewed efforts to adjust educational and policy shortfalls in this regard. As a result new strategies to deal with the problem of language skills have begun to emerge. These efforts include the new Information and Communication Technology ICT programs that began in the 1990s (Nagi and Suesawaluk). This has also led to as recognition in educational circles of the changed student needs and profile in the country.
The importance of "global learning" and the necessary expertise in language has tended to emerge in education in Thailand in recent years. As a study by Nagi and Suesawaluk from the College of Internet Distance Learning (CIDE) at Assumption University, Bangkok, state, "Those who fail to recognize the student's changing profile, from that of traditional learners to a global learner (gLearner) run…
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