What does the future hold for Business English, conference asks
15 June 2015

Ways in which business English may evolve in the future were a major theme of English UK's annual specialist conference for trainers.

The event was put together by Ed Pegg, an award-winning business English trainer who works at the London School of English, with sessions looking at the challenges for the sector and the ways in which it is evolving in some areas. Plenary sessions questioned the current approach to business English, with speaker Charles Rae posing the question that maybe "TEFL-y" approaches weren't meeting the needs of clients. 

The opening plenary of the English UK Business English Trainers' Conference showed how language training is being integrated into company organisation in Germany and suggested ways others may adopt these approaches. 

Other sessions at the London conference encouraged participants to embrace more digital teaching solutions, while the closing plenary posed the question that maybe business English should move more towards a focus on socio-linguistics rather than grammar and vocabulary instruction.

Ed Pegg says: "Many of the speakers, particularly both plenary speakers, felt that there was a big evolution in Business English, particularly in relation to the integration of more sophisticated application of business practices and linguistic theory. However, given the shock shown at many of the ideas it seems that many of the participants were unaware of any evolution or even of a need to change."

He said some speakers and delegates thought clients were looking for something different than in the past. "Both plenaries and the panel discussion suggested that the traditional format of Business English in the UK, where there are several international students from different companies, is becoming less attractive and clients now want instruction from people that are more familiar with their business and better able to provide tailor made solutions to the specific problems of their employees."

Two speakers, Charles Rae and Claire Hart, talked about Germany and how the industry there was innovative, dynamic and growing, contrasting the sector with the UK's. Delegates agreed the UK needs to respond to competitors in places like Germany but it was unclear what response that shape would take. 

Mr Pegg concluded: "If the ideas from this conference are adopted, BE in the next few years will look very different. We'll be engaging with our clients' work processes in much greater depth and spending much more time instructing learners on communication skills, such as politeness and trust building, than grammar and vocabulary."

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