In November 2010, the Oxford University Press Conference for Private Language Schools took place in Kyiv. Oxford News met with guest speaker John Hughes, whose presentation ‘Business people want results – now!’ was dedicated to the new title from Oxford University Press, Business Result. Interviewed by Igor Gnatyuk.
IG: Could you tell us a few words about the importance of Business Communication Skills?
JH: Business Communication Skills (BCS) have developed in the last 20 years and to some extent they’ve come out of management training: so, for example, in the past in Business English (BE) we tended to focus on professional content or different business topics and the key business vocabulary. But over time it became apparent from management training courses that business people actually needed lots of help with presentation skills, with meetings, negotiating, even socializing, or writing – writing reports, writing e-mails etc. – and that’s been incorporated into BE over the years. So, often our teaching can include what it is to be an effective communicator alongside effective use of the language. As a result, the demands on BE teachers have increased to some extent. We also need to be able to teach communication skills.
Teachers often think that teaching communication skills as well as language is a difficult challenge but nowadays many of the course books provide support in this area. For example in Business Result every unit has a section on BCS and it might focus on telephoning or having a meeting to discuss a project, these kinds of things. So Business Communication Skills have become one of the most important aspects of BE.
IG: Could you tell me about teaching Presentation Skills, perhaps from your own teaching experience?
JH: Often when we talk about Presentation Skills, people have this idea that it’s a big official context with a Managing Director standing up at the front of a large audience giving a presentation about products. While that is one possibility, it’s not necessarily the most common. Lots of our BE students give presentations every day and on quite basic things: maybe it’s a presentation about what they are doing this week in their department, maybe it’s an informal presentation of the product to a client – the range of presentations can really vary.