With the holiday season approaching, it’s good to add some fun into teaching to keep your students engaged and motivated. We’ve created 12 simple classroom activities and tips that you can carry out with your primary class to encourage them to be good.
6 tips for teaching business English to low level learners
The CEFR describes A1 and A2 learners as ‘basic users’ of a language. So how can we help these students to develop their English for the workplace?
Here are our six top tips:
1. Focus on high-frequency vocabulary for work
Learning English vocabulary for work context is the top priority for many low-level learners in business English classes. It helps them to communicate their message in a simple, effective way. This makes it important to teach common words and set expressions for everyday work situations.
- lexical sets (words related to the same topic or situation) – for example, days, months, numbers, verbs to describe work routines, verbs in the past.
- common collocations with verbs and nouns (for example, manage a team, have meetings, place an order, solve a problem).
- functional language and fixed phrases – greetings (How are you? Nice to meet you.) and offers (How can I help you? Would you like…?).
2. Help students with vocabulary learning
Teach vocabulary items in realistic contexts. For example, phone calls, to-do lists, short emails, text messages etc.
While it might be tempting to give students lots of vocabulary to memorize, this can cause overload, be frustrating and ultimately demotivating for learners. Instead, you should aim to present eight to ten new words in a lesson as a general rule. This is an achievable number for working memory and helps to build learners’ confidence. The number of words can be a little higher if items are easy to show in images or there is repetition; for instance, the numbers 20 to 100.
Have students make simple decisions about new words, as this helps with recall later. Start with simple tasks, such as matching words and pictures or verb and noun collocations they’ve seen in a short text (for example, managing a team, call customers, writing emails, etc.). Next, ask students to complete sentences using the target words and write their own sentences using these words.
Getting students to personalize new vocabulary makes it more memorable, for instance writing sentences describing their work routines. Repetition also aids long-term memory, so make sure vocabulary is recycled in the materials in later lessons.
Finally, make a list of vocabulary games to use for revision exercises, warmers and to finish classes.
3. Maximize student speaking time
Learners need to develop their English-speaking skills for work. The classroom is a safe, low-stakes environment for them to gain fluency and confidence.
Use the audio and video scripts of short dialogues or an extract from a longer script. Students read the dialogue aloud in pairs or groups. Give feedback by drilling the stress and rhythm of any words or phrases which were difficult with the whole class. Back-chaining phrases – starting with the last sound and building up going backwards – is an excellent way to drill. Get students to swap roles and repeat the task.
You can also use another technique called disappearing dialogue. Put a short dialogue on the board for students to practice in pairs. Then delete parts of the dialogue and ask them to repeat the task, swapping roles each time. Gradually delete more parts to increase the challenge. Students can reconstruct the dialogue as a final task.
Moreover, surveys, questionnaires, true/false games, and information-gap exercises are ways to practice speaking in English, target structures, and vocabulary.
4. Provide support for speaking tasks
Use a model dialogue from the coursebook or one you wrote yourself. Ask students to build their own short dialogues by changing some details (such as names, dates, prices, and quantities). Or use one half of the dialogue and ask students to write the other part.
Then, have them perform their dialogues together with their script. Then, ask them to try to memorize it without the script. Finally, they should perform the dialogue for another pair or even for the whole class.
Give students a reason to listen to their partners when they are speaking. For example, a speaking task like placing an order on the phone, gives them a reason. The listening student can note the essential information and check their answers afterwards.
Repeating tasks with slight variations increases the challenge, improves fluency, helps students remember useful phrases, and builds self-confidence.
5. Practice work skills your students need
Students are much more engaged and motivated when the class content is relevant to their everyday situations. They will want to learn English for work and skills they need to practice include telephoning, socializing and giving presentations.
Writing skills are also important. This includes formal and informal text messages, simple forms, less formal emails to colleagues (e.g. to update on work) and more formal emails to customers (e.g. replying to a simple inquiry).
At the start of the class, make it clear what students will be doing in the lesson. You can refer to the lesson outcome on the coursebook page or write the lesson outcome in your own words on the whiteboard. For instance, “Today you will learn to place a simple order on the phone”.
At the end of the class, ask students to respond to the self-assessment statement: “I can place a simple order on the phone.”
This is a reminder of the purpose of the lesson. It also helps the students and teachers to reflect on the progress they are making.
The grammar syllabus should also relate to English learners' communicative needs (for example, describing your company, instructions, and talking about arrangements).
6. Teach functional language phrases
Draw students’ attention to useful phrases and functional language in speaking and writing. For instance, when greeting visitors (“Nice to meet you.” “See you later.”). They can memorize these utterances and put them to immediate use outside the classroom.
Use role plays to practice work skills and functional language skills. Give learners ample time to prepare and write down what they want to say. In a phone call role play, put students back to back to increase the challenge and add an element of authenticity; even better if they can call each other on their mobile phones from separate rooms.
Similarly, with presentations (for example, introducing yourself and your company), give students time to prepare and rehearse. They can ask colleagues to video them on their mobile phones for later correction work and feedback. Or they could rehearse and film themselves at home and show the final video in the next class.
These are just a few tips and techniques for teaching corporate English to low-level learners. It’s especially important for these students to start simple, recycle language often and build their confidence in their workplace English.
More blogs from Pearson
In the fast-paced world of business, there is one undeniable fact that holds true: employees are the key to success. Their commitment and expertise propel organizations towards their objectives, which is why investing in a learning culture is essential. The advantages are numerous and include improved staff retention, increased productivity and the goal of higher employee engagement.
You may have heard the term learning management system (LMS) at work or perhaps during your time in education. For many, this throws out images of clunky, outdated systems that clumsily distribute course materials and are tough to use. But that is no longer the case. Modern LMS's are far more user-friendly, and it's time to relearn what you thought you knew about these tools.
In this ultimate guide, we will look at everything you need to know about learning management systems and why they are so beneficial.
What is a learning management system?
The idea is that these LMS platforms offer one central place for users to manage and access courses and learning materials. Depending on the user, this could be anything from self-paced e-courses to classroom training.
This can help facilitate a range of training, studying and skills development, as well as assessments, exams and certification management.
Who uses LMS's and why?
There are many great uses for learning management systems but these are used primarily by businesses and educational establishments. Here are some of the most common use cases for these platforms:
HR and management - The HR and management team might implement these across the business to help with learning and development and make sure that organizational goals are being hit
Employee onboarding - Those starting a new job may be given training via an LMS; this can make the onboarding process much quicker and simpler
Compliance training - Lots of roles require compliance training, for example health and safety training, and this is a great way for businesses to stay up to date and ensure everyone complies with regulations
Customer support - Some businesses use learning management systems to onboard customers or clients. This might include sharing user manuals and product guides. Plus, sales professionals might also use them to train new partners or clients in using their services or platforms.
Classroom learning - Lecturers and teachers can create and share course materials and align content and tests from one place. These can also be used to put a twist on traditional classroom learning.
Blended learning - Schools, colleges and universities may use these for online lessons and blended learning, particularly for remote students
Volunteer training - Charities and non-profits may also use an LMS to educate volunteers and keep them motivated about the cause
Of course, these platforms can and will be used in other ways, but these are some of the most common and beneficial uses for LMS's.
Who has access to LMS's?
In most cases, learning management systems will have two primary user groups: administrators and learners.
Administrators are the people who create, manage and deliver e-learning. They may use these platforms to upload their own learning materials, or they may select courses and materials from an existing list given by the provider.
On the other hand, learners are the professionals or students who will use these platforms to train, study and gain new skills. Many modern LMS's allow multiple learners to train or access materials at the same time.
However, there is a third and final group that we have yet to mention: the parents of students using LMS's, particularly outside of school hours. In some cases, parents may have access to these systems to support students, track their progress or look at feedback from the teacher.
Key features in modern LMS's
There are a variety of learning management systems out there and some are more advanced than others. That being said, many modern platforms will share similar features to ensure they stay competitive. Some of these key features may include:
Authoring tools that allow administrators to upload or build their own courses
Access to subject matter experts who can contribute to learning and development activities
Automated workflows that allow for the creation of personalized learning journeys
A resources library that holds all relevant learning materials, such as guides, video clips and courses
Quizzes and surveys for a more fun and engaging way to assess learners
Compliance features, such as automatic reminders that notify learners when it is time to retrain
Certificates and diplomas that give learners recognition as they study and meet their targets
Insights and analysis for individual progress and results, allowing administrators to identify gaps or areas where support is needed
Compatibility with mobile devices for studying on the go
Integrations with other internal systems and software
This is by no means a complete list and different platforms will have different functionality. However, these are some of the most common and beneficial features of many modern LMSs.
The benefits of using learning management systems
Saving time and money
First and foremost, an LMS can be an excellent way for businesses to save time and money on training.
Of course there is an initial investment in the platform, but training can be expensive and time-consuming, particularly if it must take place in a location outside of the workplace. Therefore, this can be the more cost-effective solution. Not to mention, the materials are quick to access and can save time and effort.
Ensuring compliance training is completed
These platforms are an excellent way to ensure that all mandatory training is completed on time and to the highest standard. For example, industry-specific training such as fire safety or cybersecurity training.
Provide accurate data
Administrators can access data and insights into their employee's learning. This can be a great way to see where more support is needed and to identify any skills gaps that need to be filled. Similarly, teachers can get to grips with how well their students are doing and if they need extra help in any subjects or areas.
Improves the learning experience
Whether in school or the workplace, LMS's can be a great way to improve the learning process. It allows users to study and access learning materials from one accessible location. Plus, through a multimedia approach, they can use guides, videos and more to help them learn. This can ensure they engage with the materials and stay motivated.
Finally, an LMS can make communication between students, teachers, employees and employers far simpler. For example, automated reminders keep everyone in the loop and ensure all training is completed on time. But more than that, there is one central place to communicate, review feedback and access the same materials.