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B USINESS E NGLISH professional                                

Business skills 2
Debbie Barton, Jennifer Burkart and Caireen Sever ask some questions
and suggest some solutions especially for those teachers new to business English.

t can be difficult to know where to get them to think of phrases they can
start when teaching presentations, Giving effective use in each. You can read a presentation
especially if you have never given or watch one on video to get them to
or been to one yourself. Yet giving presentations is very add any more phrases, or simply give
effective presentations is very important important for many of them a list and ask them to choose the
for many of our learners and is, ones they would be happy using.
therefore, one of the skills most our learners and is, 3 Visuals
frequently requested on business courses.
Learners who are quite confident
therefore, one of the Introduce the learners to the names of
giving a presentation in their own skills most frequently various types of visuals (eg bar chart,
language can suddenly be thrown into pie chart, etc) and to language they can
panic when told they have to give one in requested use to draw attention to visuals (eg As
English. So, why this sense of panic? you can see here …, I would like to draw
Learners often tell us: your attention to …). Reviewing
How much time you spend on each language to describe trends can be
● they are scared that they will forget part depends on the format of the helpful for learners who have to
what to say and, as a result, be seen training. In a three-day workshop, you describe graphs.
to be less of the expert. can cover each part in detail. If time is
● they think they might misunderstand limited, you may want to focus on 4 Strong introductions
when someone asks a question or they standard structuring phrases and and endings
might not be able to express the answer introductions and endings. Listen to and analyse the introductions
properly because this is the part they Here are some teaching ideas for and endings to some presentations,
have not been able to prepare for. each of the six key areas. looking out for devices such as
● they have so much to remember with rhetorical questions, anecdotes and
1 Preparation
the language that they forget other famous quotations.
Get learners to brainstorm around the
important things like body language subject of their presentation, for example 5 Dealing with questions
and delivery strategies. by using a mind map. Then help them Cards are a useful way of introducing
● they can’t ad lib or be funny as they to organise their ideas into introduction, language for responding to questions.
would in their own language so they numbered points of the main body and Give the learners cards with headings
feel their presentation is less effective conclusion. Make sure they can such as Responding to difficult questions
or even boring. pronounce key words and phrases or Asking the speaker to repeat the
confidently. Also think about the target question and brainstorm phrases they
There is so much to teach. audience of the presentation, bearing in could use. Get them to write these on
What aspects of the skill mind their background knowledge and the relevant cards.
possible cultural differences.
should I focus on? 6 Delivery
From pre-intermediate learners 2 Signposting Record the learners giving presentations
upwards, the key areas are: Give the learners the different sections and do some work on pausing for effect,
1 preparation, 2 signposting, 3 visuals, of a presentation (eg introduction, sentence stress and intonation. Record
4 strong introductions and endings, giving an outline, main body, summing them again so that they can compare
5 dealing with questions and 6 delivery. up, concluding, inviting questions) and with the original. 

• www.etprofessional.com • ENGLISH TEACHING professional • Issue 47 November 2006 • 33

B USINESS E NGLISH professional                                
out, eg I’ve ………. my talk into three How should I give feedback
Business skills 2 main parts (divided) and ask them to
try to fill them in. You can also give
and what should I focus on?

Presentatıons them cards naming the sections of a

presentation and get them to quickly
come up with a phrase they can use in
Get the learners to write a list of ‘golden
rules’ for giving presentations and
compare it with a list you have already
 How can I best input prepared. These lists can then be used as
each one. In a real presentation, they
the criteria on which to base feedback.
new language? will have so much to concentrate on
Completing a feedback form is a
Using the Test-Teach-Test method is an that if they can learn these structuring
good idea to help you structure your
effective approach. To ‘Test’ the learners, phrases off by heart, they will have one
notes while the learners are giving their
ask them to give a presentation on a less thing to worry about.
presentations. This can include everything
subject of their choice (work or non-work Of course, after a few weeks, you can
from comments on the presentation itself
related). Then give them a self-evaluation ask them to give another presentation
(Structure: I was lost and couldn’t tell
form to complete. With a good evaluation and do the self-evaluation procedure and
when you had moved on from the second to
list (available in most good business the ‘golden rules’ checklist (see feedback
the third part. Dealing with questions:
English coursebooks) and some common section) as before to check that they have
I had a question but you did not give me a
sense, even a teacher watching a not forgotten anything.
chance to ask it!) to grammar, vocabulary
presentation for the first time ever should and pronunciation problems. Asking the
be able to tell what areas need to be presenter what areas they particularly
improved, eg Was it interesting? If not, Completing a feedback want feedback on also works well.
why not? Could you understand it? If form is a good idea Getting other learners to comment on
not, why not? Was the problem the presentation gives feedback from the
vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar or to help you structure perspective of a real audience.
linking and sequencing phrases?
Once the areas have been identified,
your notes while the
How can I ensure that the
you ‘Teach’ the language which is learners are giving learners are transferring this
needed and then ‘Test’ the learners
again by getting them to repeat their their presentations learning and improving their
original presentation. performance back in
the workplace?
Now I’ve given them the There is so much material out
During the course, give the learners
language, how do I get my there – what if none of it is copies of a self-evaluation form and ask
learners to practise it? appropriate for my students? them to fill it in after they have given a
Once they have the language, include Find out what they do in their own real presentation, and to tell you about
regular opportunities to practise language and build on this. Begin by the results. Follow up with further lessons
making 3- to 5-minute ‘mini- getting them to tell you about the best on the areas they are still finding difficult.
presentations’, eg on a project they have and worst presentations they have ever Record your learners’ presentations
just completed, or a recent holiday. A been to (in any language), and discuss throughout the course and discuss the
fun way of practising the language of what made them particularly good or differences with them. They should see
presentations can be to get learners to bad. This will make what you are (and hear) the progress they are making
do mini-presentations about life in their teaching seem more relevant. and how much more effective they are
country, talking about food and drink, Use the presentations that your becoming in presenting in English. ETp
tourist destinations, festivals, etc. learners write and give at work as your
Remember to revise the structure of main source for content and follow-up
presentations and some phrases used to work. It is especially useful to give
signpost each section before they begin. learners practice in presenting charts and
Also ensure that you give the listeners a graphs which are relevant to their jobs.
task, such as to ask a variety of questions. The subjects for presentation can
To practise strong openings, you also come from you, to simulate being
could get learners to write just the given a more difficult task by their boss!
Getting hold of relevant presentations Debbie Barton, Jennifer Burkart and Caireen
introductions to presentations, focusing Sever work for Linguarama Spracheninstitut,
on a particular technique, eg beginning to watch can be difficult, but it is possible. Düsseldorf, Germany. They have a wide
Most good business coursebooks have experience of teaching business English,
with some surprising statistics. including areas such as production, retail,
recorded material and may also have a finance and human resources. As well as
video. There are also video files and teaching, all three are actively involved in
And what about reviewing transcripts available on the internet. With
teacher training.
all this language? a little searching you should be able to DHorsley@compuserve.com

find something related to the business joergpohlmann@tiscali.de

Type out the structuring phrases the
learners chose with one word blanked your learners are involved in. caireen@sever.com

34 • Issue 47 November 2006 • ENGLISH TEACHING professional • www.etprofessional.com •