English Business Communication exercises

Introducing grammar exercises for English language learnersAs I've written before, the various subskills of grammar, listening, reading, writing and cultural awareness all work together in the language-acquisition process. Grammar is especially important to ensure communication, but the material presented should be meaningful and relevant to the learners' daily lives.

By the process of using language to solve problems, the learners obtain comprehensible input from the teacher as well as from each other and the materials they are using. A topical, hands-on approach involving realistic communication is more efficient than just practicing drills.

Erick Herrmann provides a good definition of communication: "Communication, essentially, is the transmission of information, including feelings, thoughts, perceptions, expectations, commands, attitudes, knowledge and more."

Good communication is essential for learners whether they are preparing for college or business and industry. Herrmann continues: "Communication skills in the 21st century include active listening, use of academic or formal language, nonverbal communication, effective writing, speech delivery (including rate, volume and enunciation), argumentation, citation of effective reasoning and evidence, and more."

Grammar should be introduced in a communication-based mode that replicates situations where students use the forms to meet real needs. The teacher's exact approach will vary from class to class depending upon the situation and the learning styles of the students. Grammar should not be just memorization and repetition. Note the ACTFL National Standards:

"Formerly, most teaching in foreign language classrooms concentrated on the how (grammar) to say what (vocabulary).While these components of language are indeed crucial, the current organizing principle for foreign language study is communication, which also highlights the why, the whom, and the when. So, while grammar and vocabulary are essential tools for communication, it is the acquisition of the ability to communicate in meaningful and appropriate ways with users of other languages that is the ultimate goal of today’s foreign language classroom."

Learning strategies

Students vary in their language-acquisition ability, and research shows that the better learners or "experts" use more systematic problem-solving and comprehension strategies, according to Rebecca Oxford. The instructor needs to be aware of some of these techniques and encourage their conscious use by second-language learners. Learners assimilate the new material into their "data bank" as it were, and they should become active participants in the process.

"These findings show that all learning-especially language learning-requires learners to actively assimilate new information into their own existing mental structures, thus creating increasingly rich and complex structures, " Oxford notes.

Successful learners take notes writing down keywords. They also are willing to record classes for later playback or do extra listening in the lab. They gain further "comprehensible input" by engaging the teacher in additional conversation whenever possible and by trying to read books and magazines outside of class and attend events where they must use English.

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