Saturday, February 22, 2014

ELT Chat summary-Teaching English in the corporate world

#ELTchat summary (12/02/2014)

I started attending the #ELTchat on tiwtter (Wednesdays 12.00   or 21.00 GMT) after my tutor, Marisa Constantinides, suggested it. It is an hour well spent on Wednesdays, so when I was asked to write the summary of this Wednesday's chat, I gladly said, " sure!" So, here goes!

The topic
Teaching English in the corporate World: which is the best approach and which activities work best with in-company classes?
 A similar topic had been discussed before, so it is a good idea to read that summary too  as it taps into what was discussed during this chat as well.


Challenges of teaching in-company classes

"What are some of the challenges you face when teaching in-company classes?" (@Marisa_C). This was the starting point of the chat and what was discussed during the hour was connected to the answers given to this query.

Challenges of teaching in-company classes:
  1. Managers don't want to attend classes with their underlings(@OUPELTGlobal).Bosses and secretaries having sessions together, especially when the secretary's English may be better than the boss's, may not be such a great idea.

  • Random attendance,late comers (@rapple18) or no shows due to busy or not so busy schedules.
  • Motivation and mixed classes (@CotterHUE).
  • Poor assessment and people who are forced to attend these classes (@HadaLitim).
  • Working during classes (@ Marisa_C).
  • Homework or actually lack of homework.

 Ideas on teaching in-company classes & some solutions to the challenges

How should the students be grouped?
Most people agreed that it is better to group people based on language needs, topic, and position due to the fact that some employees find learning with the boss intimidating or because some managers 'pontificate' and the rest of the class remains quiet.
Words of wisdom;"Easier to do mixed level teaching than try to reconcile the irreconcilable"(@Marisa_C).

Another idea was to offer one to one classes so as to avoid intimidation and deal with different learner needs etc.

How can we avoid absenteeism?
Students need to see that what they get from classes as more valuable than work. Another idea was that companies should give extrinsic motivation and even charge students if they are absent too many times! It is necessary to keep the students engaged and motivated so as to avoid absenteeism. It is essential to show students that what you are doing with them is directly linked to their work!
  A bit about methodology
@teacherphili asked if there was a "particular methodology or approach applied to these corporate classes or if depends on the situation?" "It depends on learner expectations of education experience, but I tend to use more output-feedback" (@teflgeek).
What tasks are appropriate for our learners?
Before deciding on tasks, the importance of needs assessment came up. Teachers need to understand their learners' needs before deciding on what to do in their classes and what homework to assign.
Everyone agreed that learning in this case should be task based. The focus should be on tasks and not just exercises.
  • Role playing(@Marisa_C/@joannacre/@teflgeek).
  • Tasks applicable to work, work related. Business students do not want to waste time!(@CotterHUE).
The chat about tasks overlapped with what to assign as homework so read further on for some more ideas on tasks/homework.
What do I do about homework? 
The first question that arose was whether to give homework or not. Most agreed that it is a good idea to assign it but it is necessary to make it related to their work so that they can be more motivated to do it. Ideas regarding homework:
  •  PPT/ Prezi, which help students practise their presentation skills*.
  • Newspaper articles, which learners can read during their coffee breaks : ).
  • Pecha Kucha can help them improve fluency skills (Marisa_C).
  •  A reflection of a daily work done in the context of a job (@jankenb2)
  • Reports, emails, telephone conversations.
 * @Nouella89 asked the very interesting question of whether students are learning or playing with the technology and there was a bit of a discussion on the benefits of PPT vs Prezi and vice versa(@teacherphili: "PPT can be repetitive/Prezi style over content, mind you"/ @ Marisa_C :"Prezi can be a fun tool for presentations") .
On the whole, there was consensus on the fact that homework needs to be mandatory, something that doesn't take long, is interesting and challenging!
Assessment was briefly discussed during this chat. It is important that there is assessment and different types of it (@HadaLitim). Maybe this is something that can be discussed in another #eltchat?
My final thoughts
On the whole, this was a very interesting chat. A lot of useful ideas and thoughts were shared. I think that, in this summary, I covered the main points discussed.  I tried to include the names of  as many of the contributors to this chat as I could. Apologies if something/someone has been overlooked. This is the first time I have written a summary for #eltchat so please be lenient on the newbie : ).

Till next time.....
Links shared during the chat:
Mixed ability teaching:   (@teflgeek)
Pecha Kucha:  (@HadaLitim/ @Marisa_C)
Presentations software:


  1. Cheers for this Joanna - easier to follow what went on like this.
    It would be interesting to pick up on the point about assessing compentencies/task -based skills vs linguistic assessment (in the corporate world) in another chat.

  2. Thanks Eily! Yeap, good point! Maybe we will talk about this in another chat : )

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