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A Short Guide to Quality Service in Business English Courses

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Companies consider Business English courses as a training service. From this perspective, the teacher-student relationship becomes a customer-provider one and, as such, it is assessed with the same quality standards applied to any training program. This guide helps you to become familiar with the main areas assessed and the standards used by corporate clients.

1. Trainer

  1. Competence comprises the content knowledge, teaching and interpersonal skills you need to teach Business English effectively. Professional students expect you to have, at least, a general knowledge of management topics and business skills, which you may acquire through courses, conferences and by reading specific material. Due to the changing nature of business, keep abreast of latest trends and advances to enhance your lessons. Forming part of teachers´ associations and networks is highly desirable to remain professionally competitive. You should always relate students´ needs to their jobs. If you adopt a facilitator approach and provide them with communication tools, they will perceive the effectiveness of your classes. Set clear, reachable objectives. Observe how your adult students prefer to learn and try to use their preferred channels. In our global world, you have to be familiar with intercultural matters. You may also face some classroom management issues; e.g. absenteeism. Send a clear sign of quality by reaching an agreement on how to make up for missed lessons. This shows that you are in command; your students will appreciate it.
  2. Delivery entails providing teaching services in an appropriate and reliable manner. In the business context, you need to show an outgoing and polite attitude. Irrespective of personalities and hierarchies, be friendly, courteous and treat everybody alike. Your personal appearance is a further item to consider. A neat, clean-cut look always works well in companies. Remember to check technological devices before starting the lesson and leave them in good state and conditions. These are signs of respect for people and their property. Compliance with these basic principles leads to a reliable service and a long lasting teaching relationship.
  3. Responsiveness refers to your capacity to give prompt answers and to account for your performance. For business people, with busy and unpredictable agendas, flexibility means a lot. They will value a teacher who is ready to reschedule a class or work with an unplanned material. Communication is also essential. Inform your students at all times of changes, lesson goals and objectives attained. Finally, keep track of course progress on a frequent basis and report on this. Academic progress may be monitored through continuous assessments and formal tests, depending on the course. Customer satisfaction may be measured by asking for regular feedback and conducting a survey at the end of the course. Listen to your customers; you will receive their loyalty in turn.

2. Course Content

  1. Syllabus design. Business students will assess the adequacy of contents and needs. Based on the initial needs analysis, prioritize some objectives and reschedule others. Talk with your students about these decisions and your action plan. If it is a general Business English course, strike a balance between grammar, functions and skills. With specific courses or workshops, tailor the content to the skills required.
  2. Activities. Business people are used to a dynamic work environment. In your classes, create an atmosphere where they can participate actively. By applying management methodologies you can prepare tasks that simulate job situations. Project work and debate may go well with group lessons, whereas case studies and frameworks can be used both in individual and group lessons.

3. Material

  1. Published Material. When choosing a book, consider the students´ age, interests and language level. Some students prefer to use a core course book and supplement it with extra material. If you are going to use a variety of books, they should complement each other. Use modern, recently published material that reflects updated business topics.
  2. Authentic Material. When you work with authentic material, remember to tailor it to the students´ level and language needs, especially for low level courses.
  3. Internet. Nowadays there is an endless range of resources on the internet. While this abundance may be appealing, you have to be selective and choose what is useful for your teaching purposes. There is no use in trying to force material just because it is on the web.

Service quality reflects at each class and it rewards you with many benefits. Firstly, you will be well prepared for an audit process. Secondly, it assures you contract continuity. Thirdly, it keeps students´ motivation high. Finally, it improves your self confidence.

In essence, it is a matter of focus. Once you organize your teaching around these tenets, quality becomes second nature.

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