Strategies for teaching business report writing to language students at thang long university

Writing business reports is one of the fundamental business writing skills. Business reports here are understood as "documents that present information on a specific topic for a specific business purpose" (Boone, 1996: 308). Nearly all business activities involve writing business reports, from analyzing the status of projects, summarizing business trips, to investigating an arising problem or suggesting a change in an organization. Writing reports sometimes becomes professional services which are provided for a fee. The job of market research companies, for example, is to write reports on the results from their researches on consumers' demands for a particular product or service. Writing effective reports is an essential skill for office workers and should be taken into consideration in language education in colleges, especially for language students who are likely to be office staff after graduation. The teaching of business reports in English is a part of courses of English for business communication, a branch of English for Specific Purposes. English-major students, however, have to face a number of problems when studying English as a means of business communication. First, most of the students are not familiar with business knowledge. Most of them have never taken part in any business activities so far. Business courses, if any, provide just general theories of economics. Second, the materials used for the courses are not usually tailored for language students to learn to write business reports in English intensively. In Vietnam, some intensive courses of English for Business Communication have to use materials for low-intensive courses and/or those written for English native speakers to study business communication with English as the first language. Those materials can neither provide a thorough understanding of the subject nor anticipate the lack of language competence of foreign language learners. The knowledge of writing business reports in English is considered a need for English-major students who will soon graduate and might have to use the knowledge in working life. However, as a newly established non-state university, Thang Long has a remarkable number of problems in dealing with the matter. Firstly, the university staff, most of which are little informed teachers of English, has to begin designing the syllabus from nothing but references from several similar available ones. As for the courses of English for Business Communication, it is hard to find a relevant syllabus so the staff has chosen to rely on a textbook written for improving business communication skill for native speakers. Besides, as language-major students, students with English major find it really difficult to deal with business issues, let alone writing reports on the subject. With those difficulties, the teaching of English for business communication in general and writing business reports in English in particular is really a challenge. What the teacher can do now is to develop effective teaching strategies that help students understand the subject knowledge presented in the textbook, design useful exercises for practicing both language aspects and writing skills and avoid making errors in writing business reports. The study, therefore, is proposed to find out those necessary teaching strategies for the section of teaching how to write business reports in the course of English for Business Communication 3 at Thang Long University.

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