Written by:Maria Momchilova, Sofia University, Department of Language Learning
One of the most exciting areas of development in English language teaching combines teaching Business English and the use of The Internet in the face-to-face teaching program.
The end of the 20th century was marked by globalization and technological revolution. The need for quick adaptation to the ever-changing local and global social environment created a new generation of learners of foreign languages who know specifically why they are learning a certain foreign language. Time and money constraints created the need for cost-effective courses with clearly defined goals. Learners demanded English language courses tailored to their specific needs – working abroad, immigration, continuing their education in another country, participation in EU projects, etc. The motivation was strong and clear – adequate functioning in a target situation.
The foreign language teaching and especially the English as a foreign language teaching situation in Bulgaria has changed a lot over the past ten years. With the positioning of the country among the other countries with developing market economy the need of English speaking professionals has increased drastically. Professionals with a certain knowledge of English need to develop further their language skills in the specific area of their work. Therefore, the 21st century Bulgarian companies and their employees want English language courses to be very practical and work-oriented. Working adults choose the Business English courses because in them their work-related language needs are being fulfilled. The Business English teacher and her/his students become partners in the business of learning.
And what is business today without The Internet? Every employer wants the employees to be Internet-literate. Even small businesses nowadays have a web site. Written communication between companies within a country relies almost on e-mail. Snail mail (letters and documents on paper) remain for government and official correspondence only and the fax looses its priority and popularity.
The Internet definitely changes the way people and businesses communicate. New types of skills, including language skills, have emerged during the technological revolution. The concern of the English language teacher now is how The Internet influences the development of both the English language and the ways in which it is taught. Therefore, a teacher of Business English in particular, should be Internet-aware. S/he should use efficiently and effectively the rapidly changing technology to create motivating activities for the language learners. A good foreign language teacher must never forget that her/his students are active computer users and their computer skills shouldn’t be isolated from their language learning skills.
The aim of these presentations is to raise the awareness and stimulate Business English teachers, as well as English language teachers, to actively use The Internet in the language classroom. As good professionals we must not remain isolated from the latest trends in technological development but we must actively seek the possibility to use The Internet in the language teaching process. There is no excuse for not doing so. Foreign language teachers today must acknowledge that there is a different environment for the FL learners and it is the WWW, not the blackboard, even if it has been upgraded into white.