As an ESL teacher, one of the best ways to grow and expand is to sink your teeth into new facets of teaching. A common path for the career teacher is in-house corporate language training. Corporate teaching involves teaching company employees, generally at the company’s offices. This kind of teaching provides instructors with a greater set of challenges, as many firms pay top dollar and expect only the best, demanding to see a demonstrated improvement in the student’s ability. Corporate trainers can expect to teach complete range of students’ of differing ages, levels and job descriptions within a company, ranging from security staff, to managers at executive level. While this can be somewhat daunting for a new teacher, corporate teaching can be incredibly fun. Your students would have most likely worked a long day, and want a fun and light-hearted time in the classroom. One of the biggest drawcards for the teacher is a bigger pay packet at the end of the day, as corporate language tuition often pays better than schools and language centers. It’s also a great way to make contacts. Who knows, the quiet woman sitting down the back may be in charge of HR and may need a full-time English teacher in the future.
This article aims to provide 8 nifty tips and tricks to help you succeed as a corporate language trainer.
How To Be A Successful Corporate Teacher
Make them think it’s fun!
Start with fun and finish with fun! By using a fun activity at the start and the end of a class, you give the students a positive memory of the class. It is generally the start and the end of the class that is mostly remembered by students, leaving them with an impression that is happy and fun, making up for the dry chunk of grammar and writing in the middle. Games and activities are just as important for corporate students as they are for children, as most classes are held after work, and the student’s concentration levels can sometimes waver. They also help reinforce the grammar point and give the students the chance to present the skills learnt class, while competing with their colleagues. Many successful corporate teachers can teach amazing kids classes!
Getting to know each other
On the first lesson, the students sometimes tend to be shy when speaking in front of you and their colleagues. It may have been quite a long time since they have used English and they may be quite low on confidence. To best deal with this, the entire first lesson should be aimed at building a positive and constructive learning environment that is fun and open. One of the best ways to do this is to start with an activity where the students get to know you (see BusyTeacher’s Getting To Know You activities) and build a strong rapport at the same time. As the teacher, you will be spending quite a lot of time with the students, so it is in their best interests to get to know you. Instead of introducing yourself, simply write a big question mark on the board, and get them to do the hard work by asking the questions. Use your immense charm and personality while doing this, and make them guess certain things about you, such as your nationality, age, etc. Personality, charm and a nice smile go a long, long way, as well.
Another fun lesson idea that works out well for the initial class is an activity called “Two Truths, One Lie.” This is a great little rapport builder that gives the teacher an idea of the level of the students ability of writing, speaking and structure. The teacher writes three sentences about him or her on the board, with one of the sentences being a lie. Below are some example sentences. Make it fun and try not to be too obvious. (BTW, I hate Britney Spears!)
- I can fly planes.
- I am in love with Britney Spears.
- I like to eat Durian.
The students must then ask questions about the topics, and then the teacher should lie and try to trick the students into believing the wrong one. A fun guessing game can be had where the students play the role of a lie detector. Once finished, the students can write their own three sentences, and a game can be held such as “Teacher vs The Class” with the teacher must guess the “lie” of the student. If the teacher correctly guesses the lie, 1 point will be scored by the teacher. If the students successfully deceive the teacher, the class wins a point.
Find out what they really want
When it comes to corporate classes, student feedback about you and the course will most likely be given to the company’s HR manager and whoever it is who pays your wage. One way to keep the students happy is to give them what they want. In the first couple of lessons, a needs analysis should be done to compile a list of their wants, needs, strengths and weaknesses. This can be done by asking each individual student the following questions:
- What do you find difficult about English?
- What do you want to improve?
- How do you use English in your job?
With this information, you can plan supplementary activities, projects and various other tasks that are not in the book with the aim of keeping your class fresh and interesting.
Dress the part
As a corporate teacher, you will be teaching in conference rooms, meeting rooms or even boardrooms. Working in this environment takes you into the realm of the company’s big wigs, and dressing to impress helps your image. It may also help gain further work in the future. As a corporate teacher, you should dress like a corporate individual.
Go with the flow
If you find that your planned lesson on business writing is putting them to sleep, a quick change of tactics has never gone astray. The students have generally worked a long day, and giving them the task of writing an email makes them feel like they are continuing their work. If you notice their attention span beginning to falter, start a classroom conversation. Get them talking about things they are interested in, such as their hobbies, families, life outside work. This also shows that you are a caring teacher, with a genuine interest into the wellbeing of your students.
They’re adults, not children
Never reprimand or discipline an adult student for arriving late or not doing homework. They are adults and can make up their own minds.. They probably had a good excuse for not doing the homework, or came late to class due to a work meeting. Always remember that you can lead a horse to water, but not make it drink. The same rule applies for adult students.
Give them something they can use
When it comes to using material from a book, skip the parts that are not relevant to them. If you’re teaching a group of accountants, focus on money related topics, rather than irrelevant topics, such as ‘booking a hotel room’. If your students don’t need to know about presentations, don’t teach them it. The best approach is to replace the redundant task with a fun activity, such as a team project that gets the students working together.
Keep it personal
Give out your email address and let them know that you are always there for any help or assistance if they need any help with English in their job. This creates a personal bond, meaning good feedback for you, and a way for them to improve their English skills, which directly relate to their job.
ESL corporate teaching is a great place to meet some unique characters while building contacts that may prove to be handy in years to come.
The best advice to anyone considering corporate teaching is to keep it light, bright and informative. By following these steps anyone can be a successful trainer when gracing the boardroom or meeting room of a company.