Some BESIG related questions for you to muse over/comment on below. And remember to mouse over the images!
Last week, I gave a 60-minute online lesson to one of my long-term, Advanced-level business students (or should I say ‘clients’?…. we’ll see later) who works in the tax consultancy industry.
As usual, I tried to give a very professional and hopefully interesting Business English lesson. But afterwards, I was feeling a little bit perturbed as I felt that I went far beyond the jurisdiction of English teacher and definitely crossed into the realms of business training; the problem being that I didn’t receive the far better remuneration of the latter.
Very Quick Lesson Summary
We opened with a discussion about group taxation, which led on to my lesson content of CFCs (Controlled Foreign Companies).
The aim was for my student/client to explain the concept to me in his existing active vocabulary, then we would examine a text with an appropriate Business English register and extract the vocabulary that the student should be using in this context. Finally, we would attempt to answer further questions on this subject, which was an opportunity to recycle the target vocabulary. There were other elements too, but that is the
All standard TEFL stuff, I would say.
But here comes the rub…
At the opening of the CFC section, my student said, “Well, I can’t tell you anything about CFCs because I don’t know anything about them. When I’m in meetings, the lawyer often mentions them, but I never know what he’s referring to.”
Later, after I had explained to him what CFCs are with the guidance of my prepared text, he added, “This is really great. I need to know this”
Also, “This is exactly what my company does”
Sooooooooooooooo, for me, it’s clear that this far exceeded the remit of English learning.
- I was training this businessman in an atmosphere of professional training.
- I had studied up on the ESP subject beforehand with a clinical focus on the needs of the student’s specific profession.
- I was able to answer all the student’s questions relating to background on this topic which is key to his business practices.
It was a great lesson, don’t get me wrong. We covered the topic so the the student had full understanding and he also vastly improved his output to contain suitable BE vocabulary.
I could have reframed the question as, “That was clearly valuable corporate training for you, so what are your company’s business training rates of pay?”
I have been with this student for around 2 years and have managed to…
a) Keep his interest and more importantly
b) Progress him along the tricky path of Upper Intermediate to Advanced
Now that we have cleared up grammar issues (with the occasional L1 interference error now and again, of course), we concentrate on very specific business topics to do with tax consultancy. I don’t want to lose this student, but shouldn’t I enter into discussion re the fact that my lessons go beyond TEFL class now and we have clearly entered the realm of Business Training, which needs to have a higher price per ‘training session’ (note that I didn’t say ‘lesson’)
I have seen BESIG sessions where practising business trainers have stated that simply changing your language in this way (lesson > training session, English teacher > business trainer) and the way that you package and/or present yourself is sufficient to start charging top-whack for essentially CLIL Business English lessons, but I think that I have surpassed that with this particular student and to be honest with 3 or 4 other of my BE ‘customers’.
I have also taught BE in lots and lots of corporations, such as SIEMENS, Ernst & Young, PWC, KMPG, BNP Paribas, Max Planck Institue, Empa etc, so it’s not like I am inexperienced in this field.
BESIG Questions about Business training/English teacher
- How does a TEFL teacher go about stepping across to the other side (with a bigger pay day)?
- As English teachers, do we just have to accept that we will be underpaid for quality business lessons?
- Is there, or should there be, a clear defining line where it is accepted that training is defined as such (and not English lessons)?
- Have you successfully bridged the gap from teacher to trainer?
- Have you been in the situation where you clearly felt that you were underpaid/unrecognised for giving corporate training under the guise of English teacher?