5 ways to identify a quality Business English language course
It isn’t easy to know which kind of language training course to choose – after all, there are many schools, language institutes and independent teachers out there, all competing for your business, all claiming to have the best solution to your Business English or for that matter your basic Dutch, Financial French or Technical German language needs. Having taught quality Business English courses for many years at a variety of schools around the world, I’ve put together a Top Five ways to recognise a quality programme – things to really think about before investing a lot of money on an English course. Consider the following important elements to avoid disappointment later.
1 – student-centred not generic or method centric
A good programme should also focus on the students’ own language difficulties and required outcomes, and not just follow a programme or method that is deemed level-appropriate. Open enrolment courses cannot by definition achieve this. A high quality English language course will focus on the student’s specific learning outcomes and learning style rather than a specific, pre-ordained method. Ask for some clear examples of how your provider achieves this.
2 – practical not theoretical
A good quality English language course should be as practical as possible – it should give the participants the functional phrases and grammar that they can actually use at work. There should be extensive practice mirroring your work activities. There are too many generic teaching materials that don’t directly relate to real English interactions – I’ve seen trainers start to lose their students when they can’t associate with the topic or language being taught. Ask when your provider last made use of work diaries, workplace visits or language logs to capture practical examples of daily language.
3 – skills as well as language development
Be it Business English, Technical German or Financial French, programmes need to address specific professional skill development and not just be language-based. For example, in a lesson about meetings, it’s not just about useful words or grammar, but how to be more effective in your business meetings – how to effectively interrupt, develop a spoken argument, deal with the different cultures you deal with at work, convince or persuade others in the current business environment, achieve consensus and so on. Use of modern media (internet, YouTube, blogs and so on) allows your provider to incorporate modern approaches in your particular industry. Ask for examples.
4 – flexible not predictable
Business language training should not doggedly remain fixed, but be flexible enough to address any specific concerns as they arise; essentially, a good business trainer teaches the student, not the syllabus. If a problem pops up, or remains persistent, the programme should be able to evolve, and deal with them as they occur. There are many teaching Methods out there that insist you follow a strict (language-based) sequence of lessons; but a good professional Business Language Training course should find out about your individual needs, and design a flexible programme around you. Ask your provider if the programme is pre-determined or uses a specific method (often provider owned) and how much freedom their trainers have.
5 – fun challenging and interesting (it’s not high school!)
Last, and by no means, least – it should motivate, challenge and be enjoyable! Quite simply, people learn more when they are motivated and enjoying themselves. Classes should be interactive, dynamic with multiple opportunities to discuss interesting points and have practical communication practice, with a trainer that knows how to motivate and push the pace along at the right speed for all involved.