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Pre-course pedagogical considerations for
teaching business English in Japan

by Damian John Rivers
- 1

Business English as a specific genre of language teaching within Japan offers a number of context specific challenges which differentiate it somewhat from mainstream EFL teaching and learning. Despite this, one can argue that quite often corporate funded programs are constructed with little attention paid to factors such as curriculum design, course objectives, teacher evaluation and other forms of reflectivity in practice. This article highlights one potential practical framework for assessing and preparing for a corporate English language course through an analysis of student and teacher beliefs, attitudes and knowledge using the SBAK+ and TBAK+ models of Woodman (1998).
Within most Business English classroom environments there are basically three distinct components which must interact in a productive manner in order to reach a desirable outcome for all parties:

The student population, comprising of many individual differences in:
                - Learning objectives
                - Previous language experiences
                - Motivations for study
                - Areas of strength and weakness
                - Preferred learning styles and methods
                - Beliefs about what they need to progress

The teacher, an individual who brings to the classroom:

                - Their own teaching beliefs
                - Their own expectations for the course and students
                - Their own preferred teaching methodology
                - Their own experiences teaching
                - Their own areas of strength and weakness
                - Beliefs about what students need to progress

Finally, a number of situational variables act as factors which bind together the teacher-student in their mutual pursuit of goals related to language proficiency attainment. With a focus on learner and teacher centered classroom dynamics, Woods (1996) proposed the term BAK (Beliefs, Attitudes, Knowledge) as a means of capturing the connected aspects that inform teacher perceptions and behaviours within the classroom asserting that the traditional categorization of “teachers into pre-determined groups hides the dynamic aspect of BAK, and oversimplifies our understanding of the concept and the process of teacher and curricular change" (p.246). Woodman (1998) later elaborated on the BAK proposal to form the SBAK+ (student) and TBAK+ (teacher) survey instruments. The following analysis focuses on the construction of a SBAK+ and TBAK+ diagram prior to a 3-month intensive 'Intermediate Business English' course at a major Japanese electronics’ manufacturer in which the teacher was provided with limited information concerning the course structure and corporate objectives. The SBAK+ and TBAK+ instruments (Woodman, 1998) used are shown below: 

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