BULATS Exam for International Students

Though the Business Language Testing Service’s proficiency assessment, known as the BULATS exam, has long been overshadowed by more famous English language tests like the TOEFL and TOEIC is slowly but surely winning over students and employers alike. Nor should this come as much of a surprise. Developed in part by the world-famous Cambridge ESOL Department, the English-language versions of the BULATS is the only standardized proficiency exam designed with working professionals in mind. Much like other standardized assessments, the BULATS provides potential employers with a consistent means by which to compare candidates from different backgrounds. What sets it apart from the pack – and makes it ideal for those who are seeking to learn English for business – is the fact that it alone is designed to assess a candidate’s ability to deal with real-life work situations in particular.

Better still, the BULATS recognizes the diversity of modern English as it is used around the world. As a result, though the exam was developed in the UK, it employs a mixture of the many accents and vocabularies found throughout the English-speaking world. As a result, regional variations are accepted if they are used consistently enable candidates to succeed no matter where they learned business English.

Given all of this, an increasingly large number of multinational employers are now using the BULATS exams to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their workforces. More than 12000 employers around the world – including such notable multinationals as Banco do Brasil, GlaxoSmithKline, and Hitachi – accept the exam as proof of English proficiency. Of course, such recognition has not escaped the notice of these companies’ would-be employees and international students, too, have signed on in greater numbers than ever before. If you would like to join them or just find out more about how the BULATS exam can help you learn English for business.

How to Teach English: Fluency versus Accuracy

Fluency versus accuracy is, doubtless, the one issue that affects each and every English as a Second Language teacher. Indeed, more than any other, it is this question that, regardless of their level, location, or leanings, English teachers return to over and over again. After all, this issue gets to the heart of how to teach English because it questions the way they measure success as educators. Is mastery, as fluency advocates believe, demonstrated by the “communicative ability” to clear (but inexactly) express ideas or, as accuracy advocates content, by a formal knowledge of grammatical rules?

While the former is ideal for students who are able – and wish to demonstrate their ability – to perform functional tasks in English, the latter more closely corresponds to the traditional ideal of language fluency. As you can imagine, this issue can affect almost every aspect of a teacher’s instructional style in the classroom, meaning that in order to compare English teaching styles you must come to terms with this question.

Such certainty may be elusive but it is important. After all, the differences between just two methods of English language teaching – Grammar Translation (which puts an emphasis on accuracy over fluency ) and Audiolingualism (which focuses on the opposite) – can dramatically affect how and when teachers make corrections.

If you are trying to encourage students to get a flowing rhythm to their speech it can be discouraging to them to be constantly correctly for accuracy. Similarly, many would contend that there are many grammatically correct sentences that, nevertheless, are senseless. For example, both “good” and “green” are adjectives but it would be illogical to say “Have a green day!” By contrast, few would argue that truly bad grammar stands as a significant impediment to free expression in any language and, thus, the debate continues. In the end, then, perhaps a solid resolution is less important than the simple fact of awareness: knowing the perils of extremism can help you compare English teaching styles and, ultimately, help your students.

Why Learn Business English

speak business englishKnowledge is power, as they say, but these days a knowledge of the English language is particularly powerful indeed. After all, as the common language of more than a quarter of the world’s consumers, English has a unique role in today’s increasingly globalized and interconnected world. Because it is used in boardroom and back offices as diverse as Buenos Aires, Bombay, and Brunei, there are countless reasons why you should learn English for business. Here, however, are our top three reasons:

1) Increase Your Profits
If you are already in business, the ability to conduct your business in English will help you to improve your ability to conduct successful negotiations and business deals with your existing clients. At the same time, because English opens doors, it means that you can bring your services to the English-speaking community and thereby give you the opportunity to expand the reach of you business.

2) Get Your Career Off The Ground
Those who learn business English know that it can give them an edge not just in their own small businesses but also with major corporations. Because companies are increasingly conducting business in multiple countries and languages, they are more eager than ever to attract English-speaking professionals that can help them work with customers in destinations around the globe. Thus, if you are just entering the work force a working knowledge of English can give you just the boost you need to compete in today’s highly competitive job market.

3) Enhance Your Competitiveness
Finally, even if you are already in the workforce you stand to benefit when you learn English for business. Not only can English proficiency help you secure the promotion you have been working for, it can also help you make the transition to a new industry. In so doing, English can help you reinvent yourself and, at the same time, join the ranks of today’s global elite.

Speak English photo courtesy of Shutterstock

What to look for in a good TEFL certificate course

The international demand for English teachers has skyrocketed in recent years and, given the advantages qualified teachers have in this rapidly developing market, so too has the number of TEFL certificate courses. The reason for this is obvious: TEFL certificates are far and way the most cost-effective TESOL certification available. Not all programs are created equal, however. Indeed, because these programs, unlike the more expensive and time-consuming CELTA, are largely unregulated the quality of such programs can vary widely. With this concern in mind, then, how can would-be educators tell the difference between superior and substandard programs? Here are some things to keep in mind when you are trying to separate the wheat from the chaff:

In theory any course designed to prepare to teach English abroad can be referred to as a TEFL certificate course. Thus two day weekend classes and aforementioned CELTA are both technically in the same general category. What make the CELTA so much more appealing to employers is its rigor and reputation. Indeed, it is this (hard won) reputation that makes the program so many employers know and love. That having been said, the CELTA is not your only option. Any four week “equivalent” courses (which has a course content and structure similar to the CELTA) has all the hallmarks of a strong program. If you are uncertain about a program’s reputation, do a little digging online and see if that school has a good reputation. If you can find out otherwise, so can potential employers.

In any case, a solid program will invariably require 100 or 120 hours of instruction and will include at least six hours of assessed teaching practice. Supervised instruction is very important to employers (and it should be to you, too) because it helps prepare teachers transfer their skills from the classroom to their classroom – and will help you be a better teacher from day one.