This year has seen the publication of some really excellent books for anyone teaching English for the Workplace. I thought it might be nice to finish off the year with short descriptions of three of my favourites.

Exploring Professional Communication – Stephanie Schnurr  (Routledge).

This book looks at professional communication from an Applied Linguistics perspective. Full of examples of authentic discourse, it provides a very useful grounding in what such communication is all about. We look at different genres, workplace culture, culture and politeness at work, professional identities, gender and leadership. These are complex topics, but they are also the bread and butter of what we teach. This is very much a textbook aimed at people learning about professional communication.

Almost time for the annual IATEFL BESIG conference. This time it's in Prague, and there'll be around 400 participants. Can't wait.

One innovation this year was for speakers to publish a 1-3 min video preview of their talk. Lots of people took up the challenge, and you can see many of the results on the IATEFL BESIG Youtube channel. My own talk is on Impression Management, and I thought I would try out Videoscribe. See what you think. Just click the link here.

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to speak at the Teaching English for Healthcare conference in Locarno, Switzerland. As always at these events, there was lots of discussion prompted by the talks.

Yesterday I stayed at home and went to a conference. It was IATEFL BESIG’s first attempt at a large online conference, and what an excellent event it was too. The focus was on materials writing for business English and ESP, and there were speakers and attendees from all over the world.

Readers of this blog may know that Clarice Chan and I are currently co-editing a new book in TESOL’s New Ways series, called New Ways in Teaching Business English. The book is basically a collection of activities which teachers can use in their own classes, and includes traditional style activities to practice spoken and written business communication, as well as lots of new activities which make use of things like social media and technology.

Another country, another conference, and yet another chance to meet up with ESP colleagues from around the world and discuss and debate issues and concerns. This time the conference was TESOL in Dallas, and a full programme of talks and sessions about ESP and teaching English.

One thing struck me again – how far corporate language training is from the academic perspective of ESP offered in tertiary institutes around the world.

Just come back from observing a class in a company. The group was made up of people from different departments and different professional backgrounds, and the trainer came from a nearby language school. 

As part of an activity the trainer asked the class to brainstorm the sorts of written texts they had to deal with in their day-to-day work.

TESOL ESP interest section members will be aware of the regular discussions which are hosted on the TESOL community website. Topics have been wide ranging, and have included things like “Teaching Tips and Success Stories in ESP”, and “Exploring for excellence in EMP practice”. Last year there was a joint discussion with IATEFL’s ESP SIG called "English for Specific Purposes (ESP) around the world in academic and occupational contexts".

As ESP practitioners we often explain what we do by talking about the sort of English we teach. So we say that we teach business English, or medical English, or legal English, and people have a rough idea what we mean.

Needs analysis is fundamental to what we do. It tells us what we should focus on, and what we can safely leave out. In this post I would like to describe three frameworks I often use to find out more about the processes my learners meet in their workplace, and then use the information to help make decisions about where the training priorities should be.