'Introducing Business English Special Interest Group (BESIG)' By Julia Waldner

3rd September 2016

What does BESIG do?

BESIG is a professional association for Business English teachers. We have a fantastic annual conference held alternately in Germany and abroad, with workshops and presentations from leading practitioners in the field. This year it will be held in Munich from 4 – 6 November and the theme is: Next Generation Workplace: Challenges for language and intercultural trainers – a business perspective. If you’re interested in joining us, you can find more information on our website.

We also offer a day of seminars the day before the annual spring IATEFL conference in the UK; our theme this year was Practical activities for the business English classroom and attendees went away at the end of the day with 13 ready-to-use-on-Monday ideas for their lessons.







Next year, at the IATEFL conference in Glasgow on 3 April 2017, the motto for our pre-conference event is Which skills? Which English? Helping learners to develop the language, business and intercultural skills for an ever-changing business world. We have invited six experienced business English practitioners to guide participants through various business English topics, presenting their own ideas but also encouraging discussion and self-reflection. The speakers will also suggest activities that can be used with learners to help them develop these skills.

We have a thriving online community (www.besig.org) with monthly weekend webinars, a World Blog and a BESIG Facebook group. Thanks to our satellite events, business English trainers further afield can gather together and watch live-streamed selections from our conferences.

Three times a year members receive our newsletter, which is full of business-related articles, classroom activities and research reviews. In addition, we publish “Conference Selections” with summaries of presentations and talks following our annual conference.

Members can also access the members-only resources on our website, apply for BESIG scholarships, qualify for reduced rates at our conference and benefit from a discount on a number of train-the-trainer courses in the field of business English and intercultural communication.









BESIG and me

I joined BESIG many years ago and later got involved on the committee. I wanted to develop professionally and BESIG is the perfect way to do this. The annual conference is a great place to network and to find out about innovations and developments in the business English teaching world.

I would definitely recommend joining a Special Interest Group; the contact with like-minded people and the feeling of belonging to a professional organization is crucial for me because I, like most business English teachers, work alone and would otherwise miss this. It’s wonderful to share ideas and talk shop with colleagues worldwide.

Voices from BESIG

I asked other members of BESIG to tell me what they get out of their membership. This is what they said:

Dana, Buenos Aires

BESIG helps members move out of their comfort zone in search of innovation, something that is essential if you work in a business environment. There is no one single tool which I’d say I got from being a member. Personally, I became a much more resourceful trainer thanks to BESIG webinars, blogs, newsletter, conferences.

BESIG has also participated in other communities, e.g. the EVO Sessions [Electronic Village Online]. We offered sessions full of new material and gave members a comprehensive view of Business English.

By being part of the BESIG community, I am always learning new things and feel I am aware of the latest research and ideas regarding teaching Business English.

Mercedes, Uruguay

Thanks to BESIG, I learned how to use online platforms. I was able to meet lots of colleagues and learn from what they were doing.

Do you have any interesting stories to tell related to the SIG?
We used to have a map where people posted where they were from. I am based in South America. Thanks to that map, another BESIG member from Germany contacted me to come to Uruguay. She came, took Spanish classes, visited our institution, gave some workshops and visited some of my clients. It was a really enriching experience.

Sue, Jersey

First of all- the networking is fantastic, and the help that is given is second to none.

I love the inclusiveness of the weekend webinars, which always seem to hit the spot, and which help our name become better known by people who can benefit.

We use a variety of tools to make access easier; Facebook and Twitter are super for quick news and easily shared information. The online conference was a success, and again brought in potential new members, and we are always looking to innovate.

Keeping up-to-date with business reality while working in a school is not always easy. The SIG has saved my sanity on many occasions.

Shanthi, London

The SIG has allowed me to meet so many BE teachers that I would otherwise not have met through the online events, Facebook group and the conferences. It has helped my professional development because it’s given me a sense of community that, as an independent trainer, would have been hard to find.

Can you share one activity, tip or resource that you’ve learnt about thanks to you SIG?
I have learned of Julie Pratten’s and Phil Wade’s books. Also more info about the Cert IBET.

Why would you recommend the SIG?
For anyone who is an independent trainer and especially for those who work online, the SIG is a precious resource where ideas and support can be found in an otherwise lonely existence. I have met so many fantastic people who have inspired me to develop more and who have kept me enthusiastic about BE.

You can find out more about BESIG by visiting our website or emailing me at [email protected].

Julia Waldner is an in-company business English trainer in the Rhine-Main area of Germany. She is also Coordinator of the IATEFL Business English Special Interest Group. She graduated from the University of Wales in Aberystwyth in 1988 and then spent four months fulfilling a life-long dream of travelling around the world before settling into working life.