Business English And The Curse Of Grammar
Sep 20, 2008 English for Special Purposes (ESP) 2678 Views
Our student is a little nervous about the course he’s about to start. English is all very well, and he can see why the boss has insisted he go to these lessons, but it’s so complicated. He’s heard it on the TV and even at the cinema, and there are words that are familiar to him: coca-cola, Microsoft, Tony Blair, Love, Yes, No and some swearing! But he’s heard that there’s a lot of irregularity in the language – it’s not as structured and formal as his own, and, frankly, that’s the main source of his anxiety – other than who else will be there, what’s the teacher like, and surely I can get along OK with what I know?
For the student, then, the grammar at first glance looks scary, sand maybe the prospect of learning it worries him. He is used to a different education system, maybe, where facts and rote learning are key. The prospect of nine tenses and various twists and turns once you’ve got those mastered is simply too much.
Much the same for the teacher though! And, actually, the student doesn’t need to know the labels for the grammar he will acquire. There’s the key “acquire”, as in pick up as we go along… . Sure, the teacher needs to know the labels, and a little bit about how these things work, just like the guys in the pits at a Grand Prix need to know how the engine works. The student, though, is Schumacher or Alonso – he just needs to drive! So Grammar is not the curse that it can at first appear – it’s the glue with which you can stick your business and pleasure words together to make sense in those meetings, e-mails and phone calls that keep the wheels of industry turning.