Teaching Grammar for Business Essays
Review in IATEFL Voices, March/April 2021: “(Ken Paterson) speaks slowly and succinctly, and as each lecture follows the same pattern, it is easy to follow. Auditory learners will no doubt appreciate the fact that the lecture is accompanied by the text in print. Text-based learners, meanwhile, will also appreciate the element of continuity in terms of how the lessons are produced, including the notes and tips for teachers.” (Sandee Thompson, Coordinator EFL, College of the North Atlantic-Qatar)
Please note: The academic grammar required for writing business essays is also applicable to formal business writing (e.g. reports) in the workplace.
It’s fairly easy these days to access the materials you need to teach students how to plan essays or reports, write introductions or conclusions, develop paragraphs or make citations – but rather more difficult to find business English materials that focus specifically on the key grammar that your students require (often at a sentence level) for the three fundamental processes of formal business writing: being objective, building information, and connecting ideas.
This course seeks to fill that gap.
By the time you have finished, you will have the classroom techniques and all the materials you need to teach, within a business English context, the most relevant aspects of these 12 features of essay grammar: cautious language, defining language, passives, impersonal subjects, noun phrases, relative clauses, verb clauses, linkers, conditionals, cause and effect, comparison and cohesion/signposting.
After a brief introduction, describing the rationale for the course and how it works in detail, two or three of the 12 items above are covered in each of the next five sections of the course, under these headings:
Being objective in a business essay: grammar for functions
Being objective in a business essay: key grammar items
Building information in a business essay
Connecting ideas in a business essay: key grammar items
Connecting ideas in a business essay: grammar for functions
Each of the main lectures acts like a suggested lesson plan. What I do is to take you through the stages of the lesson, giving you all the material that you need on the accompanying slides, or ‘pages’ as I call them, including examples, exercises with answers, lists of key language, and activities for your students. (With longer exercises and activities I show you the beginning, and you can download the rest in the ‘lesson planning resources’ at the end of each lecture.) There are also printable revision worksheets for your students at the end of each section. Note also that at the end of the last lecture (27), you’ll find a downloadable resource titled ‘Grammar Dictation’, which describes this interesting teaching technique.
So you don’t need to copy anything down as you watch, in fact, because all of the material you see on the ‘pages’ (as well as the endings to longer exercises and activities ) is available in the downloadable, adaptable ‘lesson planning resources’ for you to use in a way that suits your own physical or online classroom: copying key language onto a whiteboard, for example, or printing it off for your students, or displaying it by computer.
As you progress through the course, you can use the knowledge you gain in three immediate ways:
1) check your own understanding of the grammar items by trying the student exercises that you see on the slides (or their longer versions in the resources) before you look at the answers;
2) when you’ve watched an individual lecture, use the resources to create a lesson plan that will work for your students;
3) try teaching some of the items to your students before you complete the course – the experience you gain may be helpful when you come to watch the next new lecture.
Please be aware that this course focuses exclusively on students’ grammatical control, often at a sentence level. It doesn’t deal with research or planning skills.
All of the material is set within a modern business context, covering areas such as human resources, marketing and finance.