Summary: What employers are looking for in a Business English teacher
By: Alex Case |Audience: Teachers|Category: Teaching English for Specific Purposes
Looking at all the qualifications and experience asked for in some job advertisements for Business English teachers (MA; relevant business experience; clean driving licence; business level in the L1 of the students etc.) plus the fact that many people want to break into this kind of teaching due to factors like higher hourly pay, nicer working environments and acceptance of older teachers can make the chances of landing a good Business English job without all the things they ask for seem impossible. In many parts of the world, though, schools find that there is a shortage of Business English teachers at the same time as there is pressure from their clients to improve the quality of their teachers by getting more demanding- whilst of course keeping their costs down by not offering more pay. All of which makes for the perfect situation for a bit of creative CV writing to make the experience and qualifications you do have seem to magically cover the parts of the job ad that don't strictly apply to you.
Here is some advice both for those who have difficulty in keeping their relevant details down to two pages and those who have difficulty in finding relevant stuff to fill one. Please note that some of these points could be less important or even best to avoid depending on the circumstances of the company and the country involved, so research on specific cultural customs, company information etc. is very important. This is particularly important when including a CV in the local language (generally a good idea for Business English jobs even when the person interviewing you is a native speaker, as they can use it to impress their clients once they employ you).
Education and Qualifications
The perfect qualifications for a Business English teacher would include:
- A first degree and/or Masters in something relevant like Business Studies, Accountancy, Economics etc.
- A general English teaching qualification with observed teaching practice, such as a PGCE, or a CELTA or similar four week course
- A practical Business English and/ or teaching one to one qualification (LCCI etc.)
- A higher teaching qualification like a Diploma (DELTA etc.) and/ or MA- preferably with a specialization in Business English and/ or ESP, or if not something tied in with typical parts of Business English teaching like writing materials, testing or course design.
Needless to say, most Business English teachers do not have all of the things on that list (and people who do might be tempted to apply for CEO rather than English teacher)! Other things that could help make up for not being the perfect person described above and so might be worth a mention include:
- A degree relevant to companies you will or might have to teach in, e.g. an engineering or science degree for a manufacturing company, a French degree for teaching Japanese employees in a French water company etc. If you did any kind of business placement, that could also be worth a mention
- Any school level qualifications or studies related to business or economics.
- Any specific training, materials or types of students connected to Business English teaching in your general teacher training, e.g. one input session on "Business English and ESP" in your 4 week course or doing a needs analysis and level check for someone who needs English for their work
- Workshops and conferences on Business English or other kinds of Business training attended
For those teachers who have taught Business English before, relevant details for the job you are applying for and ways to impress the school or employment agency include (in no particular order):
- Famous companies you have taught in or taught students from
- Teaching top level managers
- Which types of business you have taught in
- Different class sizes, especially one to one and large classes
- Teaching intensive and extensive courses
- The use of technology like PowerPoint presentations and video conferencing in class
- Different levels, including very low and very high levels
- Well known and lesser known Business English textbooks and other materials used
- Level checking and needs analysis experience
- Writing syllabuses and other course design
- Finding and/ or writing materials for students with very specific needs
- Teaching specific skills like Presentation Skills, Emailing, Dealing with Customer Complaints, Cultural Awareness Training etc.
- Proofreading and editing
- Being an examiner for or teaching for Business English exams like TOEIC, BULATS or BEC- or teaching students who were taking the exam in their own time, using materials that were designed for the exam in other classes, or attending workshops on the exams
- Teaching pre-experience students, e.g. ones who are learning the English for business jargon before they even know it in their own language
- Which kind of class you have taught most often, if it would help for that job
- Which kind of class you have taught most recently, if it would help for that job
- Mixed nationality and monolingual classes
- Nationalities taught- not just of the country you are in, but also of the nationalities they are likely to be dealing with when they meet foreign guests, contact the regional headquarters etc.
- Similar schedules to the job you are applying for or other difficult schedules, such as early morning in company classes or rotating placements on oil rigs
- Mixed level and mixed needs classes
For teachers who haven't taught Business English (or even taught English at all) before but have business experience (often mentioned in job advertisements for Business English teachers), parts of your job experience you might want to mention or give emphasis to include:
1. Famous companies you have worked for or with, especially ones that are in the same field of business or from the same country as the classes you are applying for
2. Dealing with non-native speakers, e.g. having a foreign boss or foreign business travel
3. Writing, proofreading and editing business documents
4. Business or cultural training you gave or attended
5. Work that involved dealing with people, e.g. customer service or recruitment
6. Work that involved explaining things in simple language (relevant for grammar explanations etc.), e.g. help desk work
7. Work that involved standing up in front of people and speaking, e.g. giving presentations and conference speeches
8. Use of relevant technology, e.g. PowerPoint and video conferencing
9. The general range of your experience, to show you can teach every kind of class
10. What you have most experience in, if it is relevant for the kind of classes you will be teaching
For teachers who have training and/ or experience in General English classes but none in specifically Business English classes, things that could be relevant include:
- Teaching relevant skills such as emailing, how to write a CV, job interview English etc.
- Use of Business English resources in your General English classes, e.g. Reward Business Resource packs
- Level checking and needs analysis experience
- Teaching one to one or other small classes
- Use of teaching technology, e.g. interactive whiteboards or voice recorders
- Any experience of course design for courses with specific needs. Even if it was special classes for kids the process of finding out what they need, drawing up a syllabus etc. is similar to Business English and ESP
- Experience of teaching exams similar to Business English exams, e.g. being an IELTS oral examiner (similar to the BULATS speaking) or teaching TOEFL (some similarities to TOEIC).
- Businessmen and other professional people you have taught general English to
Even more than many of the things written above, the importance of putting hobbies on your CV varies a lot from culture to culture and you will need to research this- even if you are a British person who knows the interviewer will be American or visa versa! Stuff that is directly relevant to Business English teaching includes:
- Subscriptions to and reading of business magazines and books, including about the specific countries and/ or areas of business associated with the classes you are applying for
- Hobbies you might share with your students, such as golf
- Dealing with your own portfolio of investments
Other things you could mention in your cover letter include:
- Your specific interest in Business English classes
- Why you are particularly suited to Business English classes (not why you are not suited to other classes such as teaching kids!)
- Your willingness to travel and do classes in company
- Any books or articles you have read on teaching Business English, ESP or one to one
- If you have a huge range of Business English and ESP resources at home to help you plan your lessons, and if you could offer the school use of your materials
- (International or local) driver's licence and/ or living centrally and easy access to public transport
- Language level (more relevant than in general English teaching situations as you might need to deal with people in companies you visit that who are not in your classes and therefore don't speak any English), especially taking Business language exams in that language