Note: We mainly use the term TEFL on these pages but in most cases the terms TESOL/TESL could equally well be used.

Frequently Asked Questions

Courses in Teaching Business English

What are the options for people who want to become qualified to teach Business English?
For people who already have a TEFL certificate, the most common options are to do a supplementary certificate in teaching Business English, which takes about two weeks, or an MA partly or completely on teaching Business English/ESP. The two most well-known certificates are the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry First Certificate for Teachers of Business English (LCCI FTBE) and the English UK/Trinity College London Certificate in International Business English Training (Cert IBET). International House also offer their own qualification in teaching Business English. These are also available partly or fully online, but many of the other Business English certificates offered by online TEFL course providers are best avoided.

I have experience of working in business but no qualifications in/experience of teaching. What’s the best qualification to become a Business English teacher?
The first thing you will need is a certificate in teaching English to adults, such as the Cambridge CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL. It is then best to get a couple of years’ experience before taking a specific qualification in teaching Business English (see above).

What’s the most well-recognised qualification for Business English teachers?
There is no qualification that is as well-recognised as the Cambridge CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL are for EFL teachers generally. LCCI have offered qualifications in teaching Business English for a long time and they are well known within the Business English field, but as the format and the names of their qualifications keep changing it is well worth explaining your qualifications in detail on your CV. For the CertIBET, Trinity and English UK are well-known and well-respected organisations, particularly within Europe. Taking the course through a well-known course provider might also help it stand out on your CV. There is also no one MA in teaching Business English that is particularly well known, but choosing a university that is generally well respected and/or is well known for ELT might be worthwhile.

I already have a lot of experience of teaching Business English. Is it worth obtaining a specific qualification in it?
Yes. It is a very competitive market, and it will help set you apart from the many Business English teachers who teach it just like General English or who have no teaching qualifications at all.

Can I take a qualification in teaching Business English before I get my first teaching job?
According to LCCI it is possible to get on a FTEB course without any prior teaching experience as long as you have a certificate-level qualification (e.g. CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL), but the actual course providers might have different entry requirements. It will also be much easier to follow the course if you can relate it to your personal experience. You need to have prior teaching experience to enter the CertIBET or the best MA courses.

Do you need experience of teaching Business English to enter a course?
Generally not, although it would be useful. Some MA providers might have stricter entry requirements, though.

Why is it so difficult to find a FTBE or CertIBET course?
There has never been that much demand for teaching Business English certificate courses.

I can’t get on a convenient FTBE or CertIBET course. What should I do?
You could just do the FTBE exam anyway, or do an online version of the CertIBET. Alternatively, you could do an MA with at least a Business component or just a higher-level general ELT qualification such as a diploma. There are also many online courses in teaching Business English, but make sure that you check them out thoroughly before deciding on one of these. Alternatively, just train yourself up by reading books, reading articles or joining groups. For example:

  • How to Teach Business English (Evan Frendo)
  • Teach Business English (Sylvie Donna)
  • Five Minute Activities for Business English (Paul Emerson and Nick Hamilton)
  • Teaching Business English (Mark Ellis and Christine Johnson)
  • Online resources/groups such as Business English Approaches, BESIG (Business English Special Interest Group of IATEFL) and/or its Yahoo group, Business English and ESP blogs

Is it better to do a teaching Business English qualification or to do a higher-level teaching English qualification such as a diploma or MA?
In terms of career progression, a diploma or MA is probably more useful, even for a Business English teacher. You can combine the two, however, for example by doing an MA with at least one module on that topic or doing part of your diploma on Business English classes.  

Why are the teaching Business English certificate courses so short?
They are supposed to be a supplement to a general (often 4-week) TEFL certificate, and so are usually around two weeks, the same length of time as similar qualifications for young learner teachers (e.g. the Cambridge YL Extension to the CELTA).

How can I choose a good (online or face-to-face) teaching Business English course?
Things to look at or ask about include:

  • If someone who you later want to work for recognises that course
  • How well known the certificate provider is
  • How well known the course provider is
  • High entry requirements, e.g. prior teaching and Business English experience, prior qualifications and high level of English
  • Lots of contact with a tutor (not just being given a certificate for working your way through a Moodle)
  • Well-known Business English writers being involved with the course
  • The quality of the materials (videos etc) and website(s)

If any of these things give you doubts, it is probably best just to do a general ELT qualification instead (see above).

Why do you never see job ads asking for people with a certificate in teaching Business English?
Unlike the CELTA, for example, people with these certificates are so rare that no employer could limit themselves to just teachers who have these qualifications. For the same reason, having a well-recognised certificate in teaching Business English should put you right at the front of the queue for any such job.

Can I just take an exam in Business English teaching without taking a course?
Yes, you can take the LCCI FTBE exam in any LCCI exam centre, even ones which don’t offer preparation courses.

What are the differences between the LCCI FTBE and the English UK/Trinity CertIBET?
The biggest difference is that the LCCI FTBE is actually an exam rather than a course. The CertIBET always includes a course, and is assessed with a 3000- to 5000-word assignment within 12 weeks of the end of the course.

Why don’t certificate courses in teaching Business English include observed lessons?
This is a good question, as the best Young Learner equivalents (e.g. the Cambridge YL Extension to the CELTA) do have observed teaching practice. This makes it particularly difficult to tell between different teaching Business English courses, and so to dismiss the less worthy online ones. One good academic reason for there not being observed teaching practice is that the ESP approach is very much based around needs analysis and syllabus design, making it difficult to judge much with the snapshot that just one observed lesson would be. It could also be because the course providers are unlikely to find corporate students who are willing to be experimented on, and because many business classes are one-to-one.