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How to Learn Business English?

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This research focuses on the challenges students encounter during learning specific vocabulary of Business English (BE) course. The main issue for students is often insufficient knowledge of a specialist field. The survey carried out at Dong Nai Technology University, Faculty of Foreign Languages revealed learners’ preparedness and attitudes towards the BE course.


​Nobody can deny the fact that, at the present time, English is rapidly becoming the leading language in international relations, on internet sites, in international aviation, in tourism and international communication for commerce and trade.

Teaching Business English is aimed at developing students’ skills of professional communication and writing in English depending on the business field. It means that such teaching should be connected to students’ particular specialization. Therefore, BE includes specialized programmes which are designed to develop the communicative use of English as well as business writing in a specialized field of business.


Business English is a subject in the curriculum of the BA in English language at Faculty of Foreign Languages, Dong Nai Technology University (DNTU). The subject has been aiming to build and develop a commercial English language foundation for students, helping students meet business needs in business. At the present, the teachers of this subject at DNTU in general, in Faculty of Foreign Languages in detail are limited in number, and they have encountered some difficulties with the transition from General English teaching, or English Language teaching to English specialized in the field, as well as the limitations of students in the specialized knowledge base in Vietnamese.

BE is most definitely the current growth area in ESP which, in the two or three decades, attracted increasing interest and awareness. BE course books and other teaching/learning materials are proliferating, and language schools offering BE courses are blossoming. Several developments may have contributed to the expansion of BE, but speaking from the pedagogical point of view, the demand for BE must have originated from a particular kind of learners, often adults, who already had both grammatical knowledge of English, and also a specific purpose in learning English. The most challenging here is the students in DNTU are lack of specific purpose in learning English, especially learning Business English.

BE must be seen in the overall context of ESP because it relies on and utilizes elements common to all fields of work in ESP, such as needs analysis, syllabus design, selection and development of teaching/learning materials, course design etc. Just like other varieties of ESP, BE works with a number of contexts, requires and uses specific language corpora, and lays emphasis on specific kinds of communication.

In theory, BE learners should by definition be a particular kind of learners ─ adults at advanced levels of FL knowledge, and also grammar, who should be treated as subject specialists in their fields of study/areas of work, and as such as a source of information for BE teachers. Besides being a learner, the BE students should also be a provider of information and material, if not expertise, to a BE teacher (Hutchinson and Waters, 1987).

In order to reflect an extremely varied scope of the BE teacher role, some authors prefer to use terms like practitioner, monitor, facilitator, trainer rather than the term teacher. Dudley-Evans and St John (1998: 13) believe that BE teachers seem to have five key roles, some the same as EFL/GE teachers, some in addition to those, namely a teacher, a course designer and materials provider, a researcher, a collaborator, and an evaluator.


4.1 Overall objective ​English has become a new trend in recent years. English is so popular, that we can find it in many fields of life, such as diplomacy, media, and transportation and business. Therefore, if we can communicate in English, we will get many benefits. Yet it is not easy at all, especially for one who chooses English as a major especially Business English.

4.2 Specific aims ​The aim of this research is intended to discuss the major problems for both teachers and learners in the light of the Business English content, discuss students’ preparedness to study Business English as well as their attitudes towards studying Business English. Besides that, this research also discuss the expectation on studying and teaching Business English course.


After transition from General English teaching, or English Language teaching to English specialized in the field, there are lots of problems that to be discuss:

The teachers didn’t train to teach Business in English but they were trained about English Literature, English Language or English Teaching Methodology.

Teachers usually have a lack of specialised knowledge and practical experiences.
The students didn’t have background of Business before studying the course.

In the majority of cases Business English teachers are not specialists in the students’ professional fields, one of the characteristics or even a critical feature of BE is that a course should involve specialist language and content. That is why the primary issue in BE teaching is the struggle to master language and subject matter. Teachers find themselves having to teach with texts whose content they know little or nothing about.

5.2 Significance of the study

The research will help students in general and the second and third-year students in particular have a general look at problems that they may face in learning. If the study is research successfully, its results and recommendation may either help students getting better knowledge in Business field, or teachers getting better methods on their teaching.


​6.1 Overview

his chapter will explain the research’s methodological choices starting from choice of methods approach; continuing with population and study sample, sample size and selection of sample, source of data, collection of data, data management, data analysis strategies, ethics and human subjects issues, timeframes issues that presented themselves throughout the research. The choices that were made and presented throughout this chapter were based on the following sources: Catherine (2009), Creswell (2009)… on research.

6.2 Population and study sample
The questionnaire participant sampling were sampled from each teacher’s class. The aim of the survey was to find out students’ opinion about their preparedness to study the content of Business English course.

6.3 Sample size and selection of sampleThere were 104 participants altogether. The research employed a questionnaire on students’ attitudes towards learning and on teachers towards teaching Business English. The participants were asked to answer questions. For 6 to 10 questions participants were expected to tick the appropriate answer. Each students and teachers who participate in return a free voucher for a coffee shop.
Source of dataThe respondents were second and third year students who study Business English at Faculty of Foreign Languages. The participants were the students specializing in Business English.

Collection of data
After two days delivering more than 100 questionnaire sheets to students and teachers, the questionnaire sheets are collected and analyzed. The questionnaire strategy is lasting for 8-10 minutes because the participants might have a tougher time verbalizing their experience regarding the topic. The questionnaire’s survey are shown in Table 1 and

No. Questions of the questionnaire Strongly agree Agree Partly agree Disagre
Total (n=100) % Total (n=100) % Total (n=100) % Total (n=100) %

1 Do you have enough knowledge of English to learn Business English? 2 Do you have enough knowledge of business to learn Business English? 3 Do you have enough vocabularies of business in Vietnamese to learn Business English? 4 Do you have enough vocabularies of business in English to learn Business English? 5 Do you understand content of Business English course? 6 Do you understand Business English words and collocations needed for specialty? 7 Does the content of Business English course meet your learning needs? 8 Does the content of Business English course meet your learning needs? 9 Please give the reason why don’t the content of Business English course meet your learning needs? 10 What do you expect about the BE course? Table 2. Teacher’s answers about teaching Business English (%)

No. Questions of the questionnaire Strongly agree Agree Partly agree Disagre
Total (n=4) % Total (n=4) % Total (n=4) % Total (n=4) %

1 Do you have enough knowledge of English to teach Business English? 2 Do you have enough knowledge of business to teach Business English? 3 Do you have enough vocabularies of business in Vietnamese to teach Business English? 4 Do you have enough vocabularies of business in English to teach Business English? 5 Do you think that you need to be trained in a Business course before teaching Business English course? (Why or why not? Move to Q6) 6 Explaining the answer for question 5: Why or why not? Data managementThe data can be store at least at 2 difference places, once for myself and the other for the supervisor. It was chosen for this research due to its ability to obtain the core data that is required and its less intrusive nature.

Data analysis strategies
For analyzing the data:
– I use Excel or SPSS software are going to use for analysing data.
– There are two main methods including questionnaire and data analysis will be employed.
– The important things which must be considered when analyzing learning needs are who the learners are, their level of Business English, their level of professional knowledge, their expectations about the course, etc.
– Important things which must be considered when analyzing teacher needs are their level of Business English, their level of professional knowledge, their expectations about the course, etc.

6.8 Ethics and human subject issuesThe approval from DNTU University, this research passed all ethical and legal concerns – among which are the signing of an official form informing all participants about the study, their rights, and that all video recording will be deleted upon completion. Furthermore, as a researcher I will oblige to inform them about the recording.

6.9 TimeframesDATE ACTION

1 April – 5 April Literature search
Primary research (talk to relevant people)
10 April – 17 April Develop and pilot questionnaire
Continue literature research
18 April – 30 April Analyze pilot work and revise questionnaire
Ask relevant people for comments
1 May – 10 May Send out questionnaire
Categorise returned questionnaire
11 May – 15 JuneSend out reminder letter for non-responses. Continue to categorise returned questionnaire
16 June – 16 July Data input
Data analysis
17 July – 20 August Write report
Prepare oral presentation


Here are the strengths of the research:
The research takes place in DNTU with students in the field of researching. The researcher is the main teacher at DNTU.

Study findings can be generalized to the population about which information is required.
Samples of participants can be selected to ensure that the results will be representative of the population studied.
Clear documentation can be provided regarding the content and application of the survey instruments so that other researchers can assess the validity of the findings.

It is possible to control for the effects of extraneous variables that might result in misleading interpretations of causality (although this can be challenging in the natural settings of evaluations).
Here are the weaknesses of the research:
Not too much researches/references that done before about this research.
The administration of a structured questionnaire creates an unnatural situation that may alienate respondents.
Research methods are inflexible because the instruments cannot be modified once the study begins.
Reduction of data to numbers results in lost information.

Travel expense – petrol 300.000
Paper, envelopes, paper clips, ring binder, scissors… 600.000
Printing 800.000
Gifts for participants (vouchers…) 3.000.000
Assistant’s fee – collecting questionnaire 400.000
Total Expenditure 5.100.000


Hutchinson, t. & Waters, A. (1987). English for Specific Purposes, A learners-centered approach. Cambridge
Harmer, J. (1989). The Practice of English Language Teaching. Harlow: Longman.
Ellis, M., and C. Johnson. (1994). Teaching Business English. Oxford: OUP.
Ellis, R. 2006. Current issues in the Teaching of Grammar. TESOL Quarterly, 40 (1), 83-107.
Dudley-Evans, T., and M. St John. (1998). Developments in English for Specific Purposes. Cambridge: CUP.
Catherine, Dawson. (2009). Introduction to Research Methods- A practical guide for anyone undertaking a research project.

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