Business English and Technology

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Mercedes Viola's picture
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HI everybody,

It’d be really interesting to hear your views on how you use technology with business English students.
Do you use any online platform to complement your f2f courses?
Have you ever taught via Skype or using a virtual conference platform?
Any of you into mobile teaching/learning?

We are looking forward to reading your posts.

Best,
Mercedes

jenverschoor's picture
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Dear Mercedes,

I´ve been teaching Business English on-line for the last two years and have created a wiki to support my face-to-face classes.

During my presentation at IATEFL I´ll be showing the results of a survey I carried out in Latin America. It´s really interesting to see so many teachers looking forward to learning how to teach using technology with their Business English students.

I´ve never used m-learning in my classes and would really like to learn how are teachers integrating them in their classroom.

Warm regards from Buenos Aires
Jennifer

Mercedes Viola's picture
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Dear Jennifer,

Thank you very much for your post.

I've never used wikis with my students. Unfortunately, I won't be in Glasgow to attend your presentation and learn more about that. :(

I've been using some online platforms like moodle (you have to create everything) and English360 http://www.english360.com (you can design material and/or use resources that were designed for the site).
I have started teaching through Skype, and the experience has been great so far.

I really don't much about mobile learning and would love to hear what other people have to say.

Best,
Mercedes

claire_hart's picture
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Hi Jennifer and Mercedes,

As you might imagine, since I´m doing a workshop on mobile learning at the BESIG Day in Glasgow, I do use mobile learning with my course participants in Germany on a regular basis.

The initiative to use the mobile devices as aids to English learning came very much from the participants themselves; they see their phones and tablets as being an indispensable part of their daily lives and this doesn´t change when they´re in the English lesson.

I, therefore, encourage my participants to use their devices to collect, check, share and reuse. By collecting, I mean collecting images, recordings, webpages which they´ve created or accessed via their devices and then using them as a basis for discussions and language work in class. By checking, I mean looking up words in online dictionaries or checking factual information By sharing, I mean sharing the content they created or accessed via their devices with other participants and their trainer. By reusing, I mean taking audio recordings which they have either made or downloaded with them while they´re driving or out jogging, for example. Or they can use language learning apps or apps which aid communication generally outside of the classroom to re-activate and reuse language they´ve heard or learnt in class.

I see mobile devices as a portable, user-friendly multi-media portal, through which you can connect to the rest of the world

How do learners and trainers in South America feel about mobile learning? I take it from your comments that not many people are taking advantage of it...

Best,

Claire

Mercedes Viola's picture
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Hi,
Thanks for sharing, Claire.

I would say that, generally speaking, business English students (talking about corporate clients) have smart phones or i-pads; however, not all business English trainers do. They are still kind of expensive for our market. I guess, that’s one of the reasons why mobile learning is not that common here.
Anyway, I think it is really important to get familiar with that and would like to learn more about it.

I like what Claire says “I see mobile devices as a portable, user-friendly multi-media portal, through which you can connect to the rest of the world.”

Best,
Mercedes

Cleve's picture
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If I could make a very broad statement, and from a very practical perspective, I'd say that the #1 use of technology for BE is to improve the perceived return on investment for our clients. Effective use of blended learning programs can improve ROI markedly if implemented carefully, and in today's economy every company is looking for this.

You can make the same argument for university programs, but it's more complicated: by using technology to extend both the teachers' reach and the university's physical (classroom) constraints, we can help them do more with less.

So, as ELT professionals, we can use technology to help the other stakeholders of our student cohort show their bosses how they are effectively leveraging resources...of course we need to do this while maintaining pedagogic quality, but a well thought out blended program can do this quite easily.

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I teach managers in many companies and even the director of science and technology for this city's government.I have a Moodle site. I use Skype and QQ (a Chinese Skype-like program). I have a smart phone and use QR codes and Augmented Reality.

The biggest problem is that my manager students and even their HR managers and training managers think that face-to-face lessons are best for them. However, at the same time, they are so busy that they miss so much training. Consequently, they fail to make much improvement.

Additionally, 90% of their English use in this country is by Email, about 7-8% by telephone and only 2-3% is face-to-face. This further validates the reason we should be using the Internet for training as opposed to face-to-face training.

This, of course, is a moving target. As each year passes, people will become more comfortable with the Internet and this aversion to learning by technology will lesson.

What I am learning to do is to manage the change, convincing them that we need to use this technology more, that face-to-face doesn't work for them any more.

Mercedes Viola's picture
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Hi Dave and everybody,

I absolutely agree with you. The same happens to me here.
Many of my clients travel a lot, and I’ve offered them to have Skype classes, or used some web-based platform; and the first reaction is no.
I’ve started using some web-platforms in class, once they get familiar, they feel more comfortable with using them of their own.

Mercedes Viola's picture
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I'm copying here Claire Hart's comments on Jennifer Verschoor's presentation:

Jennifer Verschoor from Argentina won the BESIG Facilitator Scholarship this year and it was great to have her with us in Glasgow this week. For many of us, it was the first time we´d had the chance to meet here in person. Jennifer presented the results of the questionnaire about using technology in Business English in Latin America, which 430 teachers responded to. It seems that many teachers there want to use technology in their courses, but don´t know where to start.
She gave us links to interesting websites, such as:
www.quizlet.com - where learners can create their own flashcards and take part in quizzes based on the vocab they contain
www.lingro.com - an online dictionary which can translate the contents of websites

Mercedes Viola's picture
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Hi everbyody,

You can watch the interview to Jennifer Verschoor, Erika Osvath and Bruno Andrade

http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2012/sessions/2012-03-20/interview-erik...

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