George Sandford is a Business English tutor and consultant who is originally from England but is now working in Poland. His website, "English4HR", relates his incredible success story: "Born in Manchester and brought up in London, from a childhood of illiteracy and dyslexia, George has made an incredible journey that has taken him through national and commercial radio appearances, community work, international conferences, working with management gurus and publishing with Cambridge University Press."
I first came across George Sandford's work through some twitter update. Then I started reading his blog, learned more about his textbooks on his website and realized that this teacher's contribution to the Human Resources language training is unique and very valuable! Just a week ago I wrote to him and asked for an interview, and he responded my five questions about his work in Poland, his experience teaching Business English and why it is important, as well as his textbooks. Today I'm posting the first part of our interview, and tomorrow you'll read the rest! This is a unique interview given to OnlinEnglish.
A course in Business English usually has a more narrow focus and costs considerably more than a General English course. I find that some Russian/Ukrainian business professionals who are fluent enough in English might think it's not worth taking such a course. What are the benefits of taking a course in Business English?
I would question that the difference in cost is so great but all choices about what book to buy should be based on need. For someone who wants to extend their English business vocabulary, a business book is essential. Furthermore, each aspect of business, e.g. accounting, marketing, finance, etc. has its own specific terms and models and as a native, I still find myself learning new things so there’s no doubt that it’s of benefit to a second language learner.
In general, how is a Business English course different from a course for the HR personnel?
Simply in scope and depth; a business book usually covers issues such as company structures, leadership, communication and broad topics such as business ethics. An HR book focuses specifically on the HR function and its activities and goes into much more detail.
There are many textbooks out there that one can use to teach a course in Business English, how is your Business English Phrasebook different?
As a teacher I have used books such as Market Leader and Intelligent Business and found them to be very boring to work with. Usually, topics are covered in a very general way which lacks connection and authenticity. It’s clear that many business books are written by teachers and academics who have had no real life business experience. I have worked for 25 years as a self-employed business person and worked in many industry sectors and coached managers. All my material is based on things that actually happened and are indirectly auto-biographical. For example, in the discipline section of English for Human Resources, the audio starts with a phone call to HR from a manager saying, ‘I’m sending you someone to sack!’ It happened!
Regarding the business phrasebook, as with all materials I produce, I set out to make it entertaining and fun to work with as well as educational. There are dialogues that students can act out and plenty of useful phrases that people use in a natural business context. Answers are included so it works for self-study as well as teachers’ material. Because it is an ebook, it is easy to jump from question to answer and back again. There are also grammar explanations for common tense use in certain situations. In short, it’s realistic, interesting and easy to work with.
We will continue this interview in a post tomorrow: don't miss it. And if you would like to check out and purchase one of these books, I highly recommend them! Please, click here to find out more.