The Real Business English set of books was created for “REAL companies with the input from REAL international companies” (Buller & Vetter-M’Caw, 2018, p. 5), with the aim of raising student’s Business English comprehension to a CEFR-level B2. The authors’ stated main focus of these coursebooks is communication and as such grammar is only briefly covered. Activities are centered on a variety of industry examples in order to relate material back to the student’s own companies. The authors also took a task-oriented approach to encourage learners to personalise activities with the goal of increasing engagement and the overall interest of students.
The books themselves are neatly divided into 16 units that mostly center on the different facets of a business (e.g. training, HR management, logistics, purchasing, customer service, marketing, sales, and production). The other units focus on a variety of situations from the very specific to the very broad. For example, one unit is specifically dedicated to giving presentations and relationship building. Another specifically focuses on travel for both work and pleasure, while yet another looks at how to understand and evaluate your company’s performance. Broader unit topics include leadership, global business, and responsibility.
I think that the units are well-structured and do a good job of using each theme to actively engage students. Each section within the units consists of appropriate subcategories and efficiently breaks each subcategory into specific activities for practising reading, writing, listening, speaking, and vocabulary. Activities are properly paced and are fine-tuned for learners at this level and the teacher’s book acts as a helpful guide. I also like that both the student’s book and the workbook did an excellent job balancing the activities across the same subcategories without being dry or overly repetitive.
I would recommend this set of books as a teaching resource for corporate Business English classes, especially if those classes consist of management or management-track employees. The variety of themes would be best for such a classroom as the above-mentioned individuals would want exposure to all or most of these themes and, ideally, would want to more actively participate in the class. The books also highlight any differences between British English and American English as they arise.
However, the books put too much emphasis on the different facets of a business. Many Business English students would have trouble relating to many of the themes in these books because typically most positions within a company are not management or management-track. Also, as mentioned before, grammatical instruction is not presented throughout, apart from the occasional idiom.
Nevertheless, if you need a fairly well-rounded coursebook designed for a corporate Business English class, you can feel secure in your choice of this book. Conversely, if your class consists of non-corporate learners, then I recommend looking elsewhere.
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