‘Can we teach Business English when we are not business specialists’ – summary of #ELTchat 2016:02:17

A PLN for ELT Professionals

‘Can we teach Business English when we are not business specialists’ – summary of #ELTchat 2016:02:17

written by Glenys Hanson and shared from her blog


This is my first attempt to summarize  an ELTchat and I’m feeling rather nervous about not doing it right.


I’ve looked at previous summaries and noticed that there’s no “model” – people go about it in different ways. This is reassuring.

I volunteered to do it because I’ve been feeling guilty for some time about taking advantage of all the work the moderators do to set up these sessions without giving anything back. I would never have believed that it was possible to have useful discussions on serious professional topics within the Twitter constraints of 140 character in a post. How wrong I was!

I chose this particular subject –  teaching business English – just because it’s not one I was a priori particularly interested in but, as usual, the format and being confronted with other peoples’ ideas drew me in.

This session was moderated for most of the time by @angelos_bollas.

His first question to start us off thinking and chatting was: “Are you Business literate? Do you need to be one in order to teach Business English?”

  1. At least a minimal interest in business is necessary.
    @HadaLitim, @patrickelt (Patrick Andrews), @angelos_bollas
  2. Teachers don’t need to know everything about, for example, balance sheets or current business trends because students can explain them. Getting students to explain is a meaningful speaking task. The teacher’s job is to help students get their English right..
    Patrick, Hada, @GlenysHanson, @Marisa_C  (Marisa Constantinides), Angelos, @Ashowski (Anthony Ash)
  3. Content can be provided via input: reading texts, student provided documents. There may be confidentiality issues using company documents.
    Patrick, @TalkenEnglish, Hada.
  4. Should we feel silly in front of students if we don’t know a term? Should we fake it till we make it? Students can do/be trained to do the research for specialised terms.
    @TalkenEnglish, Hada, Glenys, Angelos, @SueAnnan
  5. Difficulty of managing classes with people at different levels of the hierarchy (the CEO + his secretary + department heads). A problem raised by Patrick and lived by others but no solution suggested.
    @getgreatenglish (Marc Jones), Glenys, Angelos.
  6. It was news to me that teaching Business English has prestige attached to it. 😲

I was surprised that in the middle of the session that Anthony thought the chat wasn’t going anywhere. Surprised because I usually agree with what Anthony writes. Though it wasn’t the sort of chat where people jump in all the time with references to lots of online resources, I felt the participants were really reflecting on what, why and how they deal with the subject. It’s true too that the discussion was less lively than the one in 2011  – I wonder why? Maybe more Business English is taught these days and teachers generally feel more comfortable with it.

The consensus seemed to be “Experience is an obvious advantage. But advantage is not necessity” as @TalkenEnglish put it.



Here is the Complete transcript  in case you want to find out what everyone said





Glenys Hanson  @GlenysHanson


I’m a retired Silent Way teacher.
Now, I use the same post-constructivist approach to create interactive on-line exercises.