Corporations All Over Thailand Hire Teachers to Teach Corporate English (EFL) Classes
In many countries in the world, teaching EFL (English as a Foreign Language) in a corporation is becoming popular. Here in Thailand, corporations now know, in order to compete in business, their employees have to be able to speak English.
A few years ago, I took a new job teaching corporate English at the Bangkok offices of a large American company in Bangkok. I taught around 80 Thai employees every week and we concentrated mostly on English conversation.
I taught all levels of corporate English from beginner to high-intermediate, but they all had the same requirements – that they learn to speak English better than they could at that point in time. But how do you teach English conversation skills in a corporation?
In Thailand, like in many other countries, Thai people have good reading, writing and listening English skills. When it comes to speaking in English however, this is when they have problems. So I devised a list of beginning topics that cover a one hour corporate English conversation class that is held once a week for three months. It can be used by anyone teaching corporate English (EFL) in Thailand, or anywhere else for that matter.
This list emphasizes social more than business English, as this is often what corporations want their employees to learn when they take an EFL class.
Week One – Introductions and Personal Information – This is an introduction class for both students and trainers. The goal is to make the corporate employees feel more self-confident speaking English and to assess the approximate skill level of the students.
Weeks Two and Three – About Your Company – Speaking about the company. What does their company do? What do they like about their jobs? What do they not like? What problems or challenges do they have at work, especially when they have to speak English?
This is a good section for employees to learn some business vocabulary as well as for the EFL trainers to learn about the company they are working in. You will also probably be surprised about how little quite a number of employees know about the company they work for.
Weeks Four and Five – Welcoming Guests (Meet and Greet) – In many countries, corporate employees have problems when they meet new English speaking people as, beyond the basic greeting, they don’t know what to say. This section emphasizes small talk in a socially acceptable manner, and talk about acceptable topics of conversations in Western cultures as opposed to the country you are teaching in.
Weeks Six and Seven – Interests and Hobbies – Speaking about interests and hobbies often comes up in social situations. This is a fun section for corporate English students to talk about what they like to do. Do they play sports? Watch movies? Go to the beach? Collect calendars, or coins, or dolls?
It’s a great way to get to know students even more, and for the students to get to know the teacher. It also gives them more vocabulary to use if they are in a social situation and are asked about themselves.
Weeks Eight and Nine – Instructions and Directions – Many corporate EFL students have problems with understanding directions and instructions in English. Basic directions for how to get places, directions around the office building, and instructions about how to do things like write emails, reports, client letters etc. are important and useful.
Weeks Ten – Families and Friends – The family is the most important thing to many employees outside the US. It’s also important they should have this vocabulary and the English skills necessary to communicate about their families and friends in company social situations. Even the shyest student is often able to talk about their families, so this is usually a fun corporate English class.
Weeks Eleven and Twelve – Telephone English – Learning how to conduct a short conversation on the telephone is difficult because, as you cannot see the other person’s lips moving, it is often more difficult for a student of corporate English to understand what is being said by a client or business associate. Both business English and social English should be covered so that the students will feel more confident speaking English on the telephone.
Make sure each class is fun and that the teacher only talks speaks 10-20% of the time, with the students speaking 80-90% of the time. Cover the subjects using a combination of reading, writing and conversation, as well as role plays, dictation, games and anything else you think your students may have fun doing.
These seven subjects are good starting points for a short corporate English as a Foreign Language (EFL) conversation class. Add more if your course is longer.