If you're working at an international company now or planning to in the future, there's a good chance you'll need to use English at some point. In this article, we take a look at the essential things to look for when choosing an English course to help you with your work.
What is English for Occupational Purposes (EOP)?
If you read our last article, 'What Kind of Course is Right for Me?', you'll already know EOP is an area of study suitable for people who need English for their jobs (their 'occupations').
EOP courses help learners develop vocabulary and the communication skills necessary for specific jobs or work tasks.
What to consider before choosing a course
Start by asking yourself these questions.
What do I need English for?
If you're in a job that requires very specific skills, such as a pilot or a doctor, you may need to research English courses designed specifically for these roles. You'll want to make sure the courses will introduce you to industry-specific language and prepare you for the specific tasks that you'll do in your role.
If you work in an office, you may find you need English for a number of common office skills, such as attending meetings, writing emails or giving presentations. If you're in this situation, you should take a course that will help you practise the kind of skills you need for your job.
How much time per week can I spend studying?
If you're in a part-time job, you may feel you have enough time available to study daily and could look for a course at a language school that offers daily lessons or several lessons per week.
If you're in a full-time job, you'll need to be realistic with how much time you can spend studying outside your work. You may want to consider taking an ecourse (online course) that allows you to study around your own schedule.
You should now have a general idea of the kind of course or ecourse you'll need.
What to consider when choosing a course
Now let's go into more detail about the course itself. When evaluating a course, you should ask yourself these questions:
Will the course teach me what I need for my job?
Read through the list of course lessons or topics and decide if they include things you need for your job.
Some English courses focus heavily on teaching vocabulary around topics such as business, marketing or trade. However, if you need English for your job, you'll need to choose a course that will also help you learn and practise skills you need to do your work tasks in English: for example, giving presentations, telephone skills or interview skills. A good skills-based course will train you to do this skill well in English and should help you learn the vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation to complete the tasks.
Will I be able to study around my work schedule?
If you want to succeed in learning new work skills, you must make sure you can actually fit study around your work.
It will help if the course allows you to:
study when you want - If you're interested in taking a course at a language school, you'll need to check which days and hours are suitable and when the course starts and ends. For busy workers, ecourses offer more flexibility as they usually allow you to study whenever you have available time - before work, after work, during lunch breaks, on the weekend and even while travelling. Additionally, some ecourses have a 'micro-learning' design that allows you to study in short time periods of less than fifteen minutes.
study where you want - Again, if you're interested in a language school course, you'll need to do some research to find one close to your home or workplace. If you have less time to study, an ecourse is more suitable as you'll be able to study anywhere - at home, at work, in a park or on a bus.
review what you've learnt - Some ecourses offer lifetime access, so once you've bought it, you can always look back at the course - months or even years later. This is a useful feature for learners who aren't sure they can complete the course quickly or who just want the safe feeling of being able to revisit what they've studied later.
What is the quality of the course like?
You need to check a few things to make sure you'll really learn what you need from the course:
learning materials - Try to find examples of the textbook or videos that are used on the course and take a look. Are the language points easy to understand? Do they seem to help me learn meaning, grammar and pronunciation? Do they involve a mixture of skills (speaking, listening, reading, writing)? Are the materials attractive and interesting? Can I learn about business culture too?
activities / quizzes - It's no use simply watching or reading about language and having no way to test what you've learnt. Make sure the course has plenty of activities. Do the activities seem to actually test what I'm learning? Do I feel motivated to do the activities? Do I learn immediately if I got the answer right or wrong?
bite-sized learning / micro-learning - This is when the lessons are broken up into small pieces, which each have their own specific learning aim. This has a number of benefits for learners:
a) information is easier to understand and remember 1
b) shorter time periods are required to achieve learning outcomes (which is easier to fit around our work schedules)
c) it's easier to find and review specific language points later
d) it's easier to see your progress by testing what you've learnt more frequently, which is also likely to improve your motivation for learning so that you keep studying all the way to the end of your course.
feedback on your speaking/writing - One of the best things you can invest in is feedback. A good teacher can help you identify exactly what you're doing well in your communication and give you specific advice on where and how you can improve further.
Take a look at ecourses available at The Language Professional for examples of what a high-quality EOP ecourse looks like.
Elearning Industry - https://elearningindustry.com/bite-sized-learning-vs-micro-learning-are-same