Теория и методика обучения и воспитания (по областям и уровням образования) | Мир педагогики и психологии №3 (32) Март 2019

УДК 81

Дата публикации 26.03.2019

Деловой английский язык и самонаправленное обучение

Кузнецова Нина Алексеевна
старший преподаватель кафедры филологии, ОУП ВПО «Академия труда и социальных отношений», РФ, г. Москва, ninaakuznetsova@mail.ru

Аннотация: В данной статье рассматривается деловой английский как средство самостоятельного обучения и профессионального развития студентов. Автор акцентирует внимание на роли и деятельности преподавателя, инновационных методах, технологических инструментах для подготовки учащихся к активному и самостоятельному обучению в жизни. В статье рассказывается, как следует модифицировать учебные материалы и методы обучения, чтобы разжечь интерес учащихся к обучению. Самостоятельность учащихся является заметным усилием, и преподаватели должны понимать сильные и слабые стороны своих студентов в изучении английского языка как языка, а не предмета. Рассмотрены типы резюме, стратегии, позволяющие создавать профессиональные резюме аутентичных текстов.
Ключевые слова: изучение языка, преподавание делового английского языка, автономия учащихся, инновационные методы, технологические инструменты

Business English and Self-Directed Learning

Kuznetsova Nina Alekseevna
senior teacher of Philology department, The Academy of Labour and Social Relations, Russia, Moscow,

Abstract: This article examines Business English as a means of self-directed learning and professional development of students. The author focuses on teachers' role and activities, innovative methods, technological tools to prepare students for active and self-directed learning in life. The article highlights how teaching materials and teaching techniques should be modified to kindle the learning interest of students. Learners’ autonomy is an appreciable act and teachers should understand their students’ strength and weakness in learning English as a language rather than a subject. Types of summaries, reading and comprehension strategies are considered to produce proficient summaries of the authentic professional texts.
Keywords: language learning, Business English teaching, learner autonomy, innovative methods, technological tools

Business English is generally defined in opposition to General English not only in terms of the content that is being taught but also in terms of the teacher’s background and attitudes, in terms of the public he addresses, that is, who the students are and what their expectations could be. If we consider our first issue – content – we come to realize that Business English implies teaching specialized vocabulary, different skills such as: negotiation, presentations, telephoning or socializing, going as far as teaching certain cultural differences, awareness of which turns out to be crucial at certain moments in students’ professional lives.

The Business English teacher is not only a specialist in English and general education; the teacher is required to have some knowledge of the business field since he would normally have to deal with issues strictly related to the context.

A widely advocated idea in education is that people learn better when the flow of experience is under their control (i.e., learning is self-directed).

Learning English is always a difficult process to most of the foreign language learners. Students, especially from a rural background, find it very difficult to read, write, and speak English even though they studied English as a foreign language from class I to class X.

To such students, teachers’ role is predominant and the teacher should use innovative teaching to make students gradually develop the language learning process. Foreign Language can be learnt only through practice.  It is this crucial distinction between training and practice in language learning that is highly significant in this context.

Practice is fundamentally different and involves a longer and subtler process.

The notion of learning means «the acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience, or being taught». There is much more attention to the role of active, independent, and self-directed learning (SDL) than before. Since its 1967 SDL has been shown to be a highly effective method to engage and train adult learners [2].

Self-direction in learning is now recognized as a dynamic combination of attitudes and skills, essential for dealing with the complexity individuals face in all aspects of their lives. In educational institutions at all levels, the development of skills and attitudes supportive of self-direction in learning is now often an integral part of mission and goals statements [4].

As such, self-directed learning is defined here as an approach where learners are motivated to assume personal responsibility and collaborative control of the cognitive (self-monitoring) and contextual (self-management) processes in constructing and confirming meaningful and worthwhile learning outcomes.

Self-directed learning is viewed from a "collaborative constructivist" perspective. A collaborative perspective has the individual taking responsibility for constructing meaning while including the participation of others in confirming worthwhile knowledge.

On the cognitive side, self-directed learning allows individuals to focus effort on useful information they do not yet possess, can expose information that is inaccessible via passive observation, and may enhance the encoding and retention of materials.

Skill-based learning, knowledge-based learning are essential for the growth and development of students. Teachers should develop students’ confidence, independence, interest, and aid them to realize that their first language knowledge repository would be helpful to learn the English language confidently. Learners could ‘take their knowledge of the first few words in the new language and figure out additional words by using that knowledge’.  Teaching materials, teaching techniques should be updated to the interest of the language learners. Innovative methodologies like using of games, role play, reading newspapers, watching TV, referring to a dictionary, glossary etc., should be used as tools in the classroom.

Learners’ self-learning approach and understanding the learning ability in the process of learning should be given primary importance in the classroom. Teachers should discover activities and tasks that are filled with edutainment. Introducing various tasks would help learners to understand the use of language in real-life situations by engaging them in doing many activities in the classroom. In the present age, students’ acquisition of a language is measured in terms of their ability to communicate in the language rather than examining their grammatical skills.

The most widely accepted definition of  SDL is provided with eight elements: a) it is a process; b) that is initiated by the individual; c) which may or may not involve the help of others; d) to identify their learning needs; e) to develop learning goals from these needs; f)  to find the necessary resources to attain these goals; g) to select and implement the proper learning strategies to meet their goals; h) to determine how to measure learning outcomes [1].

Teachers should think of new and varied activities to empower students to face many real challenges in their future life. Such activities make students think and react proactively, innovatively and confidently.

Learners’ autonomy is an appreciable act and teachers should understand their students’ strength and weakness in learning English as a language rather than a subject. A few prospects can be identified and implemented for a better learning atmosphere.

Teachers should:

- be sincere in delivering their work efficiently, keeping in mind primarily the development of students;

- share interesting facts and relevant information about all prescribed subjects in the classroom;

- play a pivotal role in creating and stimulating interest among students to have healthy and contextualized discussion from different angles:

- think of practical activities that should be filled with humor and creativity.

Students should:

- be explained and presented with Weekly lesson plan activities;

- be provided time to think, understand, and perform activities effectively with their competence level.

The goal of these activities is to create more process-oriented student’s teaching directed towards active and self-directed learning.

English plays an important place in every student’s life directly or indirectly. Though, chalk and board method is unbeatable, using technological tools in the process of learning English benefits learners voluminously. In order to prepare students for active and self-directed learning in life, teaching needs to become oriented toward self-management in learning, domain-specific knowledge building, and self-confidence in learning. Control must be shifted from teachers to learners.

In this competitive world, most of the institutions have set up a language lab for their students to learn English. At present,  a multimedia lab is quite attractive and instilling the interest of learning the language. The difference between a normal language lab and a multimedia lab is that the former provides audio equipment through which learners can listen to the tapes, record their voices, and communicate with the teacher, while the latter operates as a multifunction tool through which students can either listen to the tapes, watch videos and different TV channels, access the Internet or communicate with one another while the teacher can operate technical equipment to group or to pair students, and to hold discussions within the class.

Activities can mould students to be a thinker, linguistic and morphological analyzer, judge, and evaluator and aid them to fit in according to the situation. Media helps to kindle the learning interest of learners. The computer tools like the Internet, audio or video clips help learners to interact or listen to the native speakers; this increases the morale of learners. Using video, audio clippings in the classroom is a stimulus for students to communicate about anything interesting. Pronunciation, accent, vocabulary, reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills can be taught using media. Students’ creative, analytical and productive skills can be honed by showing colorful pictures, inspiring speeches by great people, and current affairs with trouble shooters. This method helps students to improve their communicative skills. Use of media in the classroom is voluminous and using newspaper, visual advertisements and clippings from movies as tools to teach English is a positive move.

Computer Aided Language Learning (CALL) requires changing in attitudes, in approach and practice amongst teachers and learners; it will require fuller integration into administrative procedures and syllabuses to prepare students to independent learning. On the computational side, the development of efficient “active learning” algorithms that can select their own training data is an emerging research topic in machine learning.

Reading English newspaper should be developed as a habit among students that will help them to improve their vocabulary and knowledge of the subject.

Though newspaper’s primary purpose is to provide news, for students it teaches about the nuances of the language through the news. A special component of the newspaper is that it can be used and read according to the interest of the students. Every reader’s interest is being fed by different columns like business, economics, finance, travel, cuisine, advertising, and so on. Students will get a wide choice of selecting and reading newspapers according to their top interest.

There are some tasks for working with a newspaper in the classroom.  Divide the class into small groups of three each and instruct students:

1. to bring a sheet or a copy of English newspapers to the classroom or give them your copies;

2. to select a write-up or an article from their respective sheet of newspaper;

3. to read the selected passage and underline the difficult words;

4. to type the given passage on MS word on the computer in the lab;

5. to select the difficult words with the help of  tool synonyms, which is available on MS word, and to provide synonym to each difficult word;

6. to read the modified passage,

7. to describe the piece of passage from the newspaper and later from the computer.

Multiple words help them to enhance their vocabulary and have a wide choice of selecting an equivalent word of their choice. Nation’s (1997) research suggests that it takes at least 12 separate reading encounters with a new word in context for learners to learn words that are comprehended to some extent.

After full comprehension of the article, the task for home work should be writing a summary. A summary is a brief, clear statement giving the most important facts about something.

Summary is produced from one or more texts, that contain a significant portion of the information in the original text, and that is no longer than half of the original text. ‘Text’ here includes multimedia documents, on-line documents, newspaper articles, etc. Of the many types of summary that have been identified, indicative summaries  (that provide an idea of what the text is about without giving any content) and informative ones (that do provide some shortened version of the content) are often referenced.

Students in higher education are often expected to summarize a chapter in their textbook, an article in a newspaper or journal, or content from online sources. However, teachers often assume that students understand the content they are reading and are proficient in producing summaries. Making meaning from printed material requires knowledge and use of reading comprehension strategies to apply when comprehension fails.

Summarization is often difficult to master as well as teach, but teachers in higher education can benefit greatly from the rapid advancement in mobile wireless technology devices, by using these devices to teach summarization.

Students’ lack of summarization skills was evident in article summary assignments in general English courses, which required them to summarize articles from The Moscow Times. Several times while grading the summaries, I found myself making comments such as, “this is retelling rather than summarizing”, “identify the main idea”,  “provide statements to support the main idea” and or “identify the most important ideas found in the article”.  It was obvious that after the second article summary assignment, students still did not understand the skill of summarizing.

Summarizing is making a condensed, shorter version of the original passage.  A profitable technique is to read a passage several times, each time for different purposes; for example to get the general drift or the main ideas, to predict, to read for detail, to write down questions, and so on. 

Profitable techniques to full comprehension of the article include [5]:

1. asking questions helps students to get closer to the intended meaning and thus aids understanding;

2. placing new words into a context; the learners are placing a word or phrase in a meaningful sentence, conversation, or story in order to remember it; 

3. rereading allows the learners to read more than once in order to get the actual meaning of the text.

Knowing the purpose of reading enables learners to channel their energy in the right direction.

There are a number of reading and comprehension strategies to help students to cope with the task. Here are some reading strategies employed by language learners proposed by some experts [5]. Skimming is the process of fast reading in order to take the gist of a passage. It gives readers the advantage of being able to predict the purpose of the passage, the main topic, or message, and possibly some of the developing or supporting ideas.  A kind of rapid reading is appropriate when trying to decide if careful reading would be desirable  or  there would no time to read something carefully. 

Scanning is the process of quickly searching for a particular piece or pieces of information in a text. The purpose of scanning is to extract specific information without reading through the whole text. Scanning and skimming help learners home in on exactly what they need or want to understand, and allow them to disregard the  rest  or  use  it  as  background information.

Guessing and making inference involve using a wide variety of clues (including linguistic and nonlinguistic) to guess the meaning when the learner does not know all the words.  Guessing helps readers to overcome knowledge limitation in reading. The students do not have to recognize and understand every single word before they can comprehend  the  overall  meaning.  They can  actually comprehend  a  lot  of  reading  passage  through  systematic guessing  without necessarily comprehending all details.

According to Pressley (2006) comprehension strategies should be conducted over an extended period of time, thus allowing its use to become self-regulated. The salient point here is that comprehension of text plays a critical role in summarization tasks. Although a plethora of research has shown that summarization instruction is effective in teaching students how to summarize.

Beginning with a passage from the article, the teacher and students read and discussed the passage. The teacher models how to write down only the main ideas and supporting information by “thinking aloud” five sample passage and having individual students to do similar “think aloud.”

Next, the teacher models how to produce a summary of one of the five paragraphs using the following checklist:

1. Have I found the overall idea that the paragraph or group of paragraphs is about?

2. Have I found the most important information that tells more about the overall idea?

3. Have I used any information that is not directly about the overall idea?

4. Have I used any information more than once?

Afterwards, the teacher composes a summary of the sample paragraph in text messaging format using text speak or text language. The message is sent to each cooperative group. A discussion of the summary statement and the text message sent occur and students are given the opportunity to make comments and ask questions for clarity.

Next, each cooperative group summarizes the remaining four paragraphs and sends the teacher summaries via text messaging using text speak or text language as well. During the second half of the class session, individual students practice summarizing single paragraphs while the teacher provides individual and class feedback.

Summarization is a complex task in which students are required to use their prior knowledge to perform cognitive processes on the information that is read. These cognitive processes include evaluating to distinguish key ideas from supporting or unimportant ideas, constructing logical connections between those key and supporting ideas, and condensing the ideas or information to present the gist in students’ own words.

Summarising is an important part of note-taking, whether this is during a lecture or when researching a topic for an essay, dissertation or thesis. Summaries are often included in essays and other academic texts, either as part of the body of the text or as an abstract (a summary of the text’s contents). In everyday life people need to be able to summarise information when asked questions like ‘What’s the book about? ’, ‘How was the film?’ and ‘What does your work involve?’.

Moving from summarizing multiple paragraphs into one, students were directed to summarize an entire research article without first summarizing individual paragraphs. This task proved to be difficult for some students at first as the students had to be reminded to add supporting details to the main idea of the article. The limitation on the number of characters to be used in the text messages forced students to further condense the information to simply provide the gist of the article. This also proved to be frustrating and challenging for students. It appeared that while in cooperative groups, students were able to produce proficient summaries of the entire article.

Every day, new technologies, new methods, and new pedagogies are changing the faces of education. As mobile technologies become increasingly prominent in the lives of students worldwide, institutions of higher education should find innovative ways for the use of these popular devices for a range of different teaching and learning purposes [4].

Intrinsic motivation leads to responsible and continuous learning. If these are the worthy aims of education, it is imperative that we create conditions where students become increasingly motivated by authentic interest and desire to construct personal meaning and shared understanding (worthwhile knowledge). Self-directed learning is not an educational fad, but a “basic human competence - the ability to learn on one's own”.

Students who are taught how to be proactive and self-directed learners will be better prepared as employees to anticipate their organization’s needs, tailor their learning to meet their own unique learning styles, and acquire the necessary skills, knowledge, and abilities to create value for their customers, employers, and organizations.


A modern society needs citizens who are willing and able to commit themselves to lifelong learning, self-directed individual learning as well as collective learning. Learning in real life, although different for various people, can be seen as encompassing five steps: orienting or preparing, making strategic decisions, executing learning activities, evaluating, and regulating the process of preparing, deciding, executing, and evaluating.

With the increasing demand for lifelong learning (learning how to learn) and network learning (e.g., the Internet) opportunities students will acquire the necessary skills, knowledge to tailor their learning activities to meet the challenges of the time.

 In an educational context, self-directed learning does not mean students are independent and isolated learners. Teachers or facilitators provide the support, direction and standards necessary for a successful educational outcome.

Proficiency represents the abilities and skills of the teacher and the student. Resources encompass a range of support and assistance available in the educational setting.

Moreover, taking responsibility for one's own learning does not mean making decisions in isolation. The challenge for teachers is to create educational conditions that will facilitate self-direction.

Список литературы

1. Anil B. Applying Innovative Teaching Methods in a Second Language Classroom // International Journal of Research in English Education. June 20, 2017.
2. Ellinger, A. D. The Concept of Self-Directed Learning and Its Implications for Human Resource Development // Advances in Developing Human Resources. 2004. Volume: 6, issue: 2, page(s): 158-177
3. Larsen-Freeman, D., Anderson, M. Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching. UK: Oxford University Press. 2016
4. Price, L., Kirkwood, A. T. Enhancing professional learning and teaching through technology: A synthesis of evidence-based practice among teachers in higher education. York, UK: Higher Education Academy. 2017.
5. Richards, J., Rodgers, T. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. A description and analysis. UK: Cambridge University Press. 2014

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