Many years ago, so the story goes, Einstein set a test for his students. His assistant politely pointed out that he had already used the same test the previous year. Einstein’s response? The questions may be the same, but this year the answers are different.
In many ways this is similar to what has been happening in language teaching for the world of work. The basic task is the same as it has always been, to help people become more effective at their jobs, but the way we do it has changed enormously in recent years and is continuing to change. In this talk I want to discuss some of these changes. What do people in the international workplace need in terms of English communication skills? And what can we as teachers do to help?
To do this I will dip into the world of work and share insights about workplace language teaching from many people who have influenced me over the years. I will refer to perspectives from a range of researchers and ELT professionals who work in the field, but, perhaps more importantly, I will discuss what other stakeholders have been saying and doing, from top decision makers in multinational companies, to learning and development professionals in different parts of the world, and to the many English language users in these organisations whose voices may not be as loud or influential, but whose language learning efforts are nevertheless essential to overall success.
My aim in this talk is to help us all think about the changes that are happening in workplace language teaching, and how new answers are needed if we are to remain relevant. And hopefully, like Einstein’s students, we might all be able to reflect a little on what those new answers might be.
Evan is a freelance teacher, trainer and author, specializing in business English and English for specific purposes, and has been working in this field since 1993. Most of his experience has been with corporate clients, although he has also written several coursebooks for mainstream publishers. His methodology books include How to Teach Business English, (Pearson, 2005), New Ways in Teaching Business English, (TESOL, 2014), with Clarice S.C. Chan, and The 6 Principles for Exemplary Teaching of English Learners: Academic and Other Specific Purposes, (TESOL, 2020), with Sherry Blok and Robin Brinks Lockwood. Recent projects have included training and consulting in the maritime industry, training courses for business English teachers, and in-house materials development for corporate clients. He is currently based in Berlin, Germany, but his work takes him to different parts of Europe and Asia. Please visit www.e4b.de to find out more about who he is and what he does.