Natalia Nikolaevna Bobyreva
Kazan Federal University, Kazan, Russia.
Karina Muratovna Amirkhanova
Kazan Federal University, Kazan, Russia.
Recepción: 05/08/2019 Aceptación: 09/09/2019 Publicación: 23/10/2019
Citación sugerida:
Bobyreva, N.N. y Amirkhanova, K.M. (2019). The techniques of teaching Business English
to the students of linguistics major. 3C TIC. Cuadernos de desarrollo aplicados a las TIC. Edición
Especial, Octubre 2019, 90-105. doi:
Suggested citation:
Bobyreva, N.N. & Amirkhanova, K.M. (2019).The techniques of teaching Business English
to the students of linguistics major. 3C TIC. Cuadernos de desarrollo aplicados a las TIC. Special
Issue, October 2019, 90-105. doi:
3C TIC. Cuadernos de desarrollo aplicados a las TIC. ISSN: 2254-6529
The article describes the principles and methods of teaching Business English
to the intending interpreters, translators and English teachers. The necessity
to study the techniques of teaching it is conditioned by the importance of the
English language as a means of international communication in the professional
sphere. The authors of the article describe their experience in Business English
teaching at the Higher School of Foreign Languages and Translation of Kazan
(Volga Region) Federal University. The process of teaching Business English
is designed to improve the students’ knowledge of business terms, idioms; to
improve the related language, communication and translation skills; to prepare
for international certication; to develop motivation and leadership. The survey
results and observation make it possible to conclude that learning Business
English is one of the most signicant components in the linguistic professional
education, which is recommended to be included into the list of obligatory
academic subjects.
Language, Linguistics, Learning, Student, Business English.
Edición Especial Special Issue Octubre 2019
Dierent issues of university language education are within the focus interest of
researchers. Finding eective educational approaches is possible via combining
the classic and modern teaching–learning methods (Sirbu et al., 2015; Kheirabadi
& Mirzaei, 2019). The eectiveness of using integrated technologies, ipped
learning and other innovative approaches and methods in the educational
process is widely discussed (Abdullina et al., 2019; Kondrateva & Nazarova,
2015; Kashisaz & Mobarak, 2018). Electronic resources also serve as modern
educational aids, which help to learn a subject in dierent aspects and develop
skills, structuring and representing the full content of the subject, providing a
wide range of task types and corresponding references (Akimova et al., 2015;
Kurbanov et al., 2017; Nakhaee & Nasrabadi, 2019).
Concerning the urgency of the present research, on the one hand, it is obvious
that the signicance of learning Business English in the modern world is out of
question. Teachers and methodologists all over the world have created a lot of
materials and tested various methods of teaching Business English. However,
there are still some problematic issues, which concern teaching this subject to the
students of linguistics major, i.e. future translators, interpreters and teachers of
foreign languages.
Teaching this category of students presupposes the development of not only
general cultural, linguistic and communicative competences, but also professional
competences. For example, future translators are supposed to be able to translate
texts connected with the business sphere, and future teachers are expected to
have а clear understanding about how to teach Business English to dierent kinds
of learners. Consequently, it can be argued that the process of teaching Business
English to the students of linguistics major has its peculiarities. Firstly, as this
category of students have no experience in business, teaching this subject could be
regarded as soft CLIL (Bentley, 2011; Eslami & Ahmadi, 2019; Mahdavi Panah
& Ghaderi, 2018). Besides, linguists are specialists in the sphere of intercultural
3C TIC. Cuadernos de desarrollo aplicados a las TIC. ISSN: 2254-6529
communication, and it is hard to exaggerate their responsibility in completing the
task of communicating successfully in the multicultural world (Zorina et al., 2016;
Jabbari et al., 2019; Pussyrmanov et al, 2018).
Business English related subjects are studied by the bachelor’s degree students (the
3rd and 4th years of studies) and by master’s degree students of linguistics major
at Kazan (Volga Region) Federal University. These courses are optional, and the
options are given to the students at the stage, when they have already mastered
General English at the Upper-Intermediate level, when they have passed the
obligatory theoretical courses of language theory, lexicology and translation
studies. Learning these subjects is reasonable mostly for senior students, because
they have enough knowledge and skills, and the necessity of nding a job is
becoming urgent for them. Students already have a full idea about their future
profession, they have their own view of all the aspects of their future professional
There was a survey among 86 bachelor’s and master’s degree students of 7
academic groups. The programmes of their studies are: Translation and Translation
Studies (bachelor’s degree); Theory and Methods of Teaching Foreign Languages and
Cultures (bachelor’s and master’s degrees); Management in Linguistic Education
(master’s degree). All the respondents study English as a second language. One of
the targets of the survey was to get feedback, showing students’ satisfaction with
the quality of their curriculum and, thus, of the education they are getting, which
is important in terms of independent evaluating of education quality (Yanova,
The students were asked to answer four questions: 1. How important it is to know
Business English for your future profession? 2. Do you plan to translate in the
business sphere? 3. How essential is it to pass the international certication in
Business English for translators, interpreters and English teachers?
Edición Especial Special Issue Octubre 2019
The aim of this subject is the development of a competence to communicate
in a business environment. The content of this academic course includes the
following areas:
1. “Basic notions of Business English”, presenting Business vocabulary, grammar
features, language skills useful for business, business-related topics;
2. “The style of ocial documents”, introducing basic lexical, morphological,
syntactical and compositional features;
3. “Translating bureaucratic style”, covering the most essential peculiarities of
the translation process in the corresponding sphere and the characteristics
of the style inuencing it, such as accuracy, standard character, directive
character, impersonality, clear structure (Proshina, 2008).
4. “International certication in Business English”, introducing the general
information about Business English exams, their types and levels;
5. “Types of business letters and documents” covering the issues of business
correspondence; the rules of making up contracts, CVs; writing application,
request, credit, sales promotion letters; writing claims and adjustments, memos,
emails, proposals and reports; maintaining joint venture correspondence and
correspondence between colleagues in scientic spheres.
The topics of the practical classes are as follows: “Careers”, “International
Payments and Credits”, “Contracts”, “Marketing”, “Business Management” and
“Business Law”. For each of the topics students do the following:
learn a glossary with denitions;
do lexical exercises;
3C TIC. Cuadernos de desarrollo aplicados a las TIC. ISSN: 2254-6529
read, retell, summarize, translate original texts;
do reading tasks: answer questions, presupposing true/false marking or
extended explanations;
make up monologues and dialogues, employing role-play in typical
situations of business communication, such as a job interview, project
presentation, discussions with colleagues, negotiations;
do writing tasks: letters, memos, emails, etc.
Thus, they train four language skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking) in
relation to Business English.
One of the most important tasks of the discipline is to acquaint students with
terms employed in the process of business communication. They learn basic
economic and legal terminology. The examples are as follows:
simple terms: assets; commodity, equity, inventory, liabilities, payables;
compound terms: cash advance, currency conversion, market segmentation, mission
statement, net prot, tax refund;
business idioms: game plan, upper hand, learn the ropes, raise the bar, see eye to eye,
ahead of the curve;
abbreviations: CM contribution margin; CCVS Credit Card Verication System;
MPS master production schedule; OMS Order Management System.
The following types of vocabulary exercises are used: word formation; matching
words to make collocations; gap lling; matching words with their denitions;
deciphering abbreviations; translating phrases and sentences from English to
Russian and vice versa.
During the term, every student compiles their own English-Russian Glossary
of Business Terms, which is one of the nal assessment tasks. Students include
the vocabulary, which is regarded as new personally by them, study a dictionary
example sentence and make up one of their own.
Edición Especial Special Issue Octubre 2019
Giving their answers to the rst question of the questionnaire, about the
importance of Business English for their future career, the vast majority (95%)
of respondents said that Business English skills are necessary for any linguist, but
mostly for a translator or interpreter. 38% of the respondents are sure that such
language skills play a great role regardless of what job they will have in future.
Business English knowledge and skills tend to be regarded not as professional
competences, but as indicators of education, background, social status, and
means of successful communication.
As for merely professional skills, the students mentioned the importance of the
abilities to draw up documents, use business etiquette, communicate correctly
with colleagues, partners and clients. According to the survey results, nearly half
of the respondents could be interested in the job involving translating texts in
the sphere of business, and they noted the importance of general erudition and
special knowledge in the relevant eld.
The modern labour market dictates the necessity to be professionally competitive
and have an internationally recognized evidence of competences. Besides, such a
recognition is needed in case of getting further education abroad.
The market environment demands teaching youth to demonstrate emotional
intelligence and leadership skills, which is possible via developing their
organizational inclination and communication skills (Zorina et al., 2018). To meet
this social demand, a few international exams training courses were introduced
for the 4th year bachelor’s degree students, as well as for master’s degree students.
The respective disciplines are called Preparation for CAE, IELTS (Academic), BEC
and TOEFL. Those are optional courses, which means that one of them is chosen
by an academic group. So, BEC is the examination focused on Business English
3C TIC. Cuadernos de desarrollo aplicados a las TIC. ISSN: 2254-6529
The course for bachelors contains 4 modules: the rst one gives general
information about international examinations in Business English, and the three
other modules cover three levels of BEC (Preliminary, Vantage and Higher)
in four language skills. Though the formats of all the three levels are studied,
the emphasis is on the Upper-Intermediate level due to the students’ linguistic
competences. As for the master’s degree students, the content of the course in
mainly the same, but it is structured in a dierent way: each module covers one of
the four language skills at all levels of BEC. Within this course, also all the levels
is considered, but more attention is paid to the Advanced level.
Both courses are aimed at giving theoretical supports and exam information,
introducing the structure, content and procedure of the exams, as well as the
main strategies, recommendations and techniques to pass them successfully.
Much attention is paid to the practical activities, focusing on training. They are
completed by students both in class and autonomously. Before completion, each
task is described so that the students get comprehensive information about its type
(for instance, multiple-choice, matching, note-taking, etc.), aims and tested skills.
Besides, the recommended examination techniques are introduced. To provide
the students with more information, they are given a reference to the authorized
web site, where they can test their English and get sample tests (Cambridge
Assessment English, 2019).
At any stage of the subject learning students may face some diculties (both
linguistic and methodological). Therefore, they are asked to give feedback on
their strong and weak points and suggest some ways of compensating for these
Answering the question about the importance of international certication
in Business English for translators, interpreters and English teachers, 92% of
respondents consider that a specialist in the sphere of linguistics is supposed to
have a certicate proving their professional competence. The most frequently
mentioned reasons are: conrmation of language skills level, improving the
qualication, contributing to the professional growth, having an ability to
Edición Especial Special Issue Octubre 2019
compete at the international market (to nd a job in a multinational company,
to work or study abroad). A language certicate in the portfolio is a “symbol” of
international recognition, which opens better career prospects and develops self-
The project “I am a Linguist!” was launched in the Higher School of Foreign
Languages and Translation to scaold students in their desire to improve their
language knowledge and skills and to guide them professionally. It includes many
educational events as well as functioning of academic clubs.
The idea of organizing a contest in which students could compete in their Business
English skills came with the necessity to give additional motivation to students.
Though the optional courses are quite popular among students, we consider it to
be essential to encourage their interest and inspire them. Therefore, the second
year students, who are supposed to choose these subjects in future, are invited to
take part in the contest.
This event has three stages (or rounds). In the rst one all sophomores take part.
Lecturers who teach the practical course of English hold this round with their
academic groups. The task is usually given as a home assignment, that is a topic
for a 2-3 minute monologue, in which participants give their hypothetic ideas
about what kind of business they would start up if they had the chance. The
talk is assessed by the following criteria: pronunciation (sounds and intonation);
grammar (accuracy and complicatedness of structures); vocabulary (accuracy of
the use of words, sophistication of lexis); discourse management (ability to speak
about the topic in question in a logical way and for the right length of time);
presentation skills (ability to speak and behave in public, including dress code).
3C TIC. Cuadernos de desarrollo aplicados a las TIC. ISSN: 2254-6529
Basing on the scores, a lecturer recommends one of the students of the academic
group to participate in the second round. It takes place in one week and
presupposes completing the tasks on reading and listening of B1-B2 levels. The
types of tasks include multiple choice, matching, note-taking. The participants
with the 10 top scores are invited to take part in the third round.
In the nal the participants get a task to make an oral essay. The topic is
announced 30 minutes before performing in public. Students are supposed to give
their opinion on a quotation of a famous person. For example: “Time is Money”
(Benjamin Franklin); An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” (Benjamin
Franklin); “Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time”
(Benjamin Franklin); “The rst duty of a human being is to nd your real job and do it”
(Charlotte Perkins Gilman); “Success has a simple formula: do your best, and people may
like it” (Sam Ewing); “Doing your best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next
moment” (Oprah Winfrey).
This round is held in a large room, where all those interested are invited. The
order of participants is determined by the draw and their performance on the
stage is organized in such a way that they don’t hear the previous speakers, as they
are invited into the room by the volunteers one by one. The 2-3 minute talks are
assessed by a panel of lecturers, basing on the same criteria as in the rst round.
With reference to the work experience, observation, and results of the students’
survey, we may conclude that the most serious challenges facing Business English
lecturers are caused by students’ poor knowledge of General English, insucient
language skills and lack of motivation. The favorable factors are students’ personal
interest, being oriented at nding opportunities to develop general (cognitive,
cultural, communication) and special (professional) skills, being focused on high
Edición Especial Special Issue Octubre 2019
The teachers’ tasks are to consider individual interests and expectations of
students, to facilitate the process of developing their talents and creative skills.
Due to the changes at the labour market, in the social situation and academic
environment, the techniques of teaching academic disciplines need to be
reconsidered and updated.
Thus, modern professional linguistic education could oer better opportunities
for learning Business English. One of them is including the subject into the list of
obligatory courses. The experience of teaching it, accumulated by a great number
of teachers and methodologists all over the world, has produced a lot of aids and
methods, which could be employed while teaching students of Linguistics major.
What should be taken into consideration by the university lecturers is that such
students are supposed to get a more profound and extensive understanding of
the subject than students getting non-linguistic professions or people attending
courses of Business English at language schools.
The combination of the basic course of Business English, the course of
preparation for an international examination and extracurricular activities
contribute to educating a many-sided professional personality. The survey data
proved that the targets of the academic subjects meet the interests, needs and
expectations of future translators, interpreters and English teachers, as they see
the real opportunities of how to use the corresponding knowledge and skills in
their career.
The work is performed according to the Russian Government Program of
Competitive Growth of Kazan Federal University.
3C TIC. Cuadernos de desarrollo aplicados a las TIC. ISSN: 2254-6529
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