Athabasca University’s Centre for Language and Literature recently launched a new course to complement their ESL program: English for Business (ENGL 189). This course, which is a major revision of the former ENGL 187, is destined to give students insight into the language styles and writing common to the commerce world.
Although ENGL 189 might seem mainly useful for ESL students wishing to pursue a business education, course coordinator Veronica Baig indicates that this is not necessarily the case.
?The course attracts and is designed for both native and non-native English speakers,? she commented, emphasizing that AU’s one-on-one tutoring in courses ?allows instructors to respond to both sets of students.?
She continued that, although it might seem that native English speakers might have ?an edge over non-native speakers, unfortunately many native English speakers have [a] poor grasp of English grammar?they make different mistakes from the ESL students, but they all make mistakes!? Again emphasizing AU’s individual student tutoring, she recommends ENGL 189 for anyone, either native or non-native English speaking, to improve their business writing and communications.
ENGL 189 has eight modules, which target basic economics and accounting; labour relations and personnel management; marketing skills in English; ethics and related concerns; government and political issues; and, finally, international trade language.
Ms. Baig feels that a major ?plus? in ENGL 189 is its ?flexibility which it offers students to either concentrate on formal business writing, or to respond to general business/economics topics.? Although the assignments reflect learning in both these areas to promote a well-rounded business English learning experience, the course ?caters to both these needs.?
ENGL 189’s compulsory texts, English for Business Studies (MacKenzie) and Business English (Geffner), have been carefully selected for the course’s ?European/global audience,? indicated Ms. Baig.
She explained that ?there is a glossary in the textbook that provides translations of content-related vocabulary and idioms into French, German, Italian, and Spanish. There is also a CD with mini-lectures that are offered in several different English accents.?
Ms. Baig also mentioned that the course texts are ?supplemented with a wide variety of high-interest, business-related readings from Canadian sources: newspapers, magazines, and periodicals.?
AU has effectively targeted the ?loneliness factor? that many AU students experience, in that ENGL 189 students ?have the opportunity to participate in online peer-editing activities.? Although students are not obliged to take part in this, Ms. Baig is confident that this will help ensure that students stay connected.
Course evaluation consists of several components, the first being six business paragraph assignments, totalling 48% of students’ ENGL 189 course mark. Ms. Baig indicated that the paragraph assignments are designed to ?offer students the opportunity to respond to business/economic readings using a variety of rhetorical methods: process, cause-effect, comparison-contrast, [and] argumentative-persuasive.? Additionally, a summary paragraph is part of the assignment.
Another 12% of the course mark is for one case analysis. This assignment is designed in such a manner that students can choose one of five presentation scenarios that they would like to research.
The last two components of the ENGL 189 evaluation are one business report, worth 15%, and one final exam, totalling 25%.
Veronica Baig is the academic coordinator for ESL, and has been passionate about teaching English to foreign students ever since spending time in Austria and Kenya years ago. She shares that ?her ESL experience has been a very positive one . . . I enjoy helping newcomers to Canada achieve their potential and their goals by helping them improve their language and writing skills. Along the way, I have taught all levels of ESL and to students from nine to 90 years of age.? Currently at Athabasca University she coordinates the English skills courses, including ENGL 140, 143, 146, and 149; she also is responsible for AU’s ENGL 177, 187, and 155.
It is fitting to close this course introduction with a final thought from Professor Baig: ?…working with the wide variety of students who register for this course, and the other courses that I coordinate and tutor, is challenging, but very rewarding. In no other learning context would one encounter students from such amazing and varied backgrounds . . . I am often in awe of what some of my students have already done, and what they are trying to accomplish.?
More information on ENGL 189 can be found at the course syllabus webpage.