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Business English Vocabulary Project Management

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									TEACHING BUSINESS ENGLISH THROUGH INDUSTRY-BASED PROJECTS
-Dr. Revathi Viswanathan, ICFAI National College, Chennai
e.mail: bringy2002@yahoo.co.in

        Socio constructivists envisaged the possibility of constructing knowledge by
creating social environment and this theory could be applied to teaching business
English to ESL/EFL students. In other words, the knowledge of business English
could be constructed among students by involving them in industry- based projects.
What are industry based projects and how do they promote language learning among
students? The projects that are conducted by students in various industries as a part
of ‘on the job training’ are referred as industry based projects. These projects not
only provide students, who pursue their MBA program, an adequate corporate
experience but also an opportunity to learn business English vocabulary in an
authentic situation. This was evident in a pilot study conducted recently on the
impact of these industry based projects on students’ language learning and this paper
throws light on those learning experiences.
        It must be admitted that students hardly use business English vocabulary in
the classroom discussions, as they exhibit only the knowledge of foundation
English. The attempt of creating a corporate scenario within the classroom does not
promote the use business English. Then how are we to orient students to using
business English in authentic situations? The best way is to motivate students to
work on a project pertaining to an industry and submit a report with findings and
appropriate suggestions. The advantage is that the authentic situations created by the
industry based projects encourage students to gain knowledge of new business
English vocabulary and use it while interacting with customers. Donna Moss (1998)
quotes Fried-Booth to specify the advantages of project based learning as ‘Project-
based learning functions as a bridge between using English in class and using
English in real life situations outside of class’. The description of the pilot study
conducted would authenticate the importance of providing corporate exposure to
students. Needless to say such types of projects have to be a part of the curriculum.
           The curriculum offered by the institution, where the presenter is currently
working, stresses the integration of domain knowledge with the soft skills and it is
reinforced by encouraging students to conduct an industry based project for four
months. Students, who wish to pursue their career in a particular sector, choose their
project accordingly. These sectors include marketing, organizational behaviour,
finance and human resource management and projects are done as a part of on-the-
job training, which is again done for four months. In other words, while undergoing
on the job training, students work on the related project too. How is this possible?
The job training that each student gets from a senior employee of a related industry
helps him to get acquainted with various customers. These customers most often
serve as his samples from whom the data is collected for the project. Domain
faculties guide these students in preparing the tools like questionnaire or an
interview to get responses from the chosen samples and finally analyzing the data.
The evaluation of the reports is done by a domain faculty, who assesses the
authenticity and methodology, and a soft skills trainer, whose assessment focuses on
students’ effective presentation skills.
        As the pilot study focused upon assessing the students’ knowledge and use of
business English by doing industry based projects, they were asked to reiterate their
corporate experience in the classroom. By doing so, they were able to bring their
interaction with the customers live to the classroom through dialogues. Their written
reports were evaluated, with specific focus on their use of business English
vocabulary, expressions and collocations. This analysis proved the fact that students
had learnt to use the appropriate vocabulary in every sector in a real life situation.
The transcript of a dialogue and a part of a written report are given below:

Dialogue :
Alan: Good morning, I am from Business Standard Ltd., the daily newspaper. Can
you spare some time for me?
Customer: Yes, what can I do for you?
Alan: I have come to explain about the attractive offer given by business standard.
We are providing 55% discount to those who subscribe for a whole year. We have a
tie up with financial times of London. The paper belongs to Kodak Mahindra Group.

Written Report: Job Stress Level and Its Impact on Sales Performance of
Employees in Business Standard Ltd.
In an organization behaviour and human resource management related project, Alan
(whose dialogue is given above) discussed issues relating to stress at work place.
One part of the report is given below.

MEASURE TO REDUCE WORK PLACE STRESS
Undertaking a stress audit using the Occupational Stress Indicator would help in
reducing or eliminating the sources of stress.. One has to be clear about the
terms and conditions of employment, physical and psychological working
conditions, work content, communication systems and working relationships
before joining an organization. A supportive work ethos could be developed to
encourage staff to discuss and seek support when experiencing stress.

         The underlined expressions authenticate their knowledge and effective use of
business English vocabulary and collocations. The follow up interaction with the
students revealed that they had learnt to use the expressions and collocations through
initial training given by the senior employee, the transactions with the customer
while describing a product (as found in the dialogue given above) and while
collecting data (as found in the report).
         To conclude, the pilot study only proves the following facts:
      Students gain greater knowledge of business English from authentic
         situations, which is provided through industry based projects.
      Teachers need to realize that the abstract knowledge of business English
         offered in a classroom does not in any way enhance their communication
         skills and that they need to create a social environment for effective learning.

Reference:
1. Bruner, J. (1966). Toward a Theory of Instruction. Cambridge, MA: Harvard
University Press.
2. Dillenbourg, P.; Baker, M.; Blaye, A.; and O'Malley, C. 1994. The Evolution of
Research on Collaborative Learning. http://tecfa.unige.ch/tecfa-research/lhm/ESF-
Chap5.text
3. Fried-Booth, D. L. (1997). "Project work." (8th Ed.) Oxford: Oxford University
Press.
4. Moss, Donna and Carol Van Duzer (1998). Project-Based Learning for Adult
English Language Learners. ERIC Educational Reports. December, Retrieved from
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_pric/is_199812/ai_3352255247

								
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