What You Need to Teach Business English Like the Boss You Are

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How to teach business English

How many of you are already familiar with teaching English abroad? Okay, a good-sized bunch of you. What about teaching business English jobs? Sounds really professional, right? English is the language of international business, so there’s a global demand for business English teachers—which translates as why you should consider not only teaching abroad, but actually teaching English for business.

It’s an incredibly rewarding profession. Instead of hyperactive kids and sleepy teenagers, you get to teach adults who are usually highly motivated and serious about improving their language skills. Also, because it’s more specialized than your average run-of-the-mill English conversation classes, business English teachers earn higher salaries and have smaller classes. Here’s what you need to know to teach business English like the boss that you are. 

tutoring adult on business english with computers

Work with a class, or one-on-one as a tutor to help business people across the world learn English.

What is business English?

Learning English is more than just teaching grammar and vocabulary. It’s also about teaching how English is used in different contexts. For example, how you speak to your boss is totally different to how you speak to your bae. So, what is business English? It’s English that’s fit for international corporations and business deals. It usually means learning a new jargon and how to speak appropriately, concisely and diplomatically in the office.

Business English covers a broad range of topics. It includes:

  • How to write a resume in English
  • How to sit and conduct a job interview in English
  • How to improve business English report writing and presentation skills 
  • How to hold meetings and conferences in English
  • English business etiquette tips
  • How to use business English on the phone and via email
  • How to make sales calls in English
  • How to persuade potential clients and negotiate using business English

This isn’t an exhaustive list of topics you could cover but you get the picture! In the final analysis, the general aim of business English classes is to get students more confident while using the language in the office and business world IRL.

Want to know how to teach business English to ESL students?

Let’s get one thing straight. Just because you’ve worked for a company doesn’t automatically mean you can teach business English. Teaching Business English is highly specific so it’s highly recommended that you get the right training and experience before you decide this right is for you. 

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Here’s how to teach business English. Classes must be tailored to each student or group’s needs. If you’re accustomed to teaching tots and teenagers, you’ll have to do a 180 to teach business English to adults. For instance, you can’t give an adult an earful because they didn’t do their homework or missed a class. Treat adults like adults: responsible for their own learning. If you want to ace how to teach business English to ESL students, you also have to give them loads of speaking time with role-playing activities. 

laptop open to data tracking

So many of the tools we use in business will require your students to grasp specific English jargon.

Do I need a TEFL certificate to teach business English abroad?

If you’re thinking of making a switch from teaching generic English to teaching business English or considering doing it for the first time, you need to get qualified. This is because you’ll be dealing with more advanced English learners and teaching English for a specific purpose. Get that TEFL certificate stat! To up the ante, get a specialized TEFL certificate to teach business English.

Can I get paid teaching business English abroad?

You will definitely get paid to teach business English abroad. Because English is the lingua franca of international business, there's a huge market out there for qualified and experienced business English teachers. You can improve your career prospects and boost your earning potential because well-trained business English teachers can expect to earn competitive salaries.

Is it more reputable to teach business English abroad than teaching regular English?

Many regular TEFL teachers are scared to death regarding how to teach business English. They think it’s really hard or that they need to have business experience to ace it. Although it’s more specialized than teaching regular English, teaching business English abroad is totally doable for regular TEFL teachers. Also, like regular teaching opps, there are a lot of scams out there so it pays to do your research before signing up to teach with a language school or company. 

[Compare programs side-by-side with MyGoAbroad]

Where can I teach business English?

Because English is the language of business the world over, there are lots of opportunities out there! Here are six countries that offer great teach business English opportunities. 

1. China

Pros: China’s business English market surpasses many countries in Asia, including Korea and Japan. Salaries tend to be generous, with extra benefits like Mandarin classes, performance-based bonuses and housing, flight, and transport allowances.

Cons: You should already have a TEFL certificate as well as previous business and teaching experience. The schedule is erratic and can take place on weekends or on evenings. Classes can also be back-to-back so you have to plan properly.

sticky notes pinned to board with vocab

It’s a little hard for your students to participate in a business brainstorm without the right vocab and buzzwords.


2. United Kingdom

Pros: Lots of students from Europe and other countries flock to London, Dublin, and other cities to learn business English from the pros. There are many schools offering business English courses because there’s such a high demand.

Cons: Because there are several well-qualified locals who can do the job, it may be difficult to get business English teaching jobs as a foreigner. Business English school teachers in the UK also earn varying salaries. Some language schools pay well, others not so much. You have to do your research and know what you're worth.

3. Taiwan

Pros: There’s a high demand for business English teachers in Taiwan. Students generally include corporate clients in Taipei. Work schedules are generally flexible and well paid.

Cons: Because course times vary and are built around the students’ work schedules, teachers have to be prepared to teach lunch time classes, night classes (as late as 8:30pm), or early classes (as early as 7:30am).

4. Japan

Pros: The business English teaching market in Japan is very well-developed. There’s an ongoing demand for business English teachers, especially in international business capital,Tokyo. Positions tend to pay higher than eikaiwa (language schools) or public school positions because corporations in Japan usually mean business.

Cons: You usually need to have previous business experience and TEFL qualifications. A business degree will also improve your chances of snagging the better-paying teaching business English jobs.

5. South Korea

Pros: Because English language proficiency in South Korea is pretty high, your students will have a lot of previous knowledge. Salaries for business English teachers in South Korea are very competitive.

Cons: Students will not be comfortable speaking English so you may have to focus on these skills first. Be prepared for long days as classes usually take place before and after work hours and during lunch time. 

man and woman shaking hands over coffee

Cover vocab and etiquette for making a deal in English.


6. Thailand

Pros: There are some opportunities to teach business English in Bangkok because many international companies are based all over the city.

Cons: There are few full-time opps to teach business English, making it not the most stable or highly paid profession in Thailand. Companies prefer to pay for short term courses through a language school. Also, because there’s a glut of English teachers in Thailand, positions may go to folks who have years of experience teaching business English to Thais.

[5 Steps to the Perfect ESL Teacher Resume]

The fast track to your teaching business English career

Step #1

Get TEFL certified to learn how to teach business English. If you have previous business experience, kudos! You already have previous knowledge of business jargon and how English is used in a business context. Even if you don’t have corporate work experience, a specialized TEFL course can show you how to teach business English to ESL students. Many of these courses are stand-alone or supplement regular TEFL courses.  

Step #2

Decide where you want to teach: Japan, the UK, China? Elsewhere? Where you teach will depend on whether you meet the country’s minimum requirements for business English teaching positions. It will also depend on whether you can afford to live there on a teacher’s salary. It makes absolutely no sense to traipse across the world to be paid less than you would for a similar position in your home country.

Step #3

Look for job boards relevant to the country you want to teach in and for the position you want. In certain countries like Japan, it’s often better to find full-time employment opportunities than part-time teaching business English jobs because of the extra benefits like medical insurance coverage. However, if you want a more flexible schedule and don’t want to be tied down to a particular language school, you should definitely consider part-time positions and even offer private tutoring in your free time. 

[Download this ebook: The Best Advice Across the Web for New ESL Teachers]

empty conference room

Help your students rock the boardroom with business English.

Step #4

Start saving those bucks to pay for your flight and set up costs. You will also need to invest in a professional wardrobe, especially if you want to teach in Asia. Business English teachers are expected to look uber-professional. Think well-tailored, conservative suits and business shoes rather than loud mix and match business pieces. You should also start looking for teaching business English resources. Start bookmarking those business English websites, collecting newspaper and magazine articles, and thinking about authentic role-playing activities for your students—keep tabs of all of your ideas, these will make great future teaching business English lesson plans!

The forecast is favorable for you to teach business English courses abroad

If the idea of teaching kids makes you cringe, teaching adults business English may be right up your alley. Not only is getting into the business English side of the TEFL market more lucrative, it also makes you stand out in a sea of average Joe and Jane TEFL teachers. Also, because you’ll be interacting with business folk, teaching business English may even open you up to non-teaching business opportunities in your dream country! 

Are you ready? Find teach business English opportunities now!

Topic:  Before You Go