Teaching Business English With “Increase & Decrease”

Teaching Business English With “Increase & Decrease”

“Increase & Decrease” pioneers ELT training in one very important aspect: its high emphasis on numbers English.

By numbers English, we are not just referring about stating numbers correctly. Instead, we are talking about the words around the numbers: what are they, how they are used, what do they mean. In numbers English, the words actually frame the necessary calculations business people are constantly performing. And if two international business people are using English to communicate these calculations, they need to have precise language skills.

Because of the underlying mathematical calculations with numbers English, the ELT profession-including business and technical English teachers-tend not to like teaching numbers English. In fact, most popular ELT publishers give numbers English just a fleeting presence at the advanced levels because of the risk of offending too many teachers, who are the gatekeepers of the material that makes into the classroom. The profession has more or less left the learners to learn this very important part of English on their own.

Instead, “Increase & Decrease Online” puts the grammar lessons directly into the learners’ hands. There’s a study guide that shows them how to use “increase,” “decrease,” (Did you know that the verbs “increase” & “decrease” have irregular active/passive grammar?) and the various synonyms of these two words. (Did you know that active/passive grammar rules change from synonym to synonym?)

As well, the study guide gives language structures for describing numerical changes, dealing with percents and percentage points, ratios, and changes to ratios. All this grammar leads to various kinds of simple and common business calculations. The words shape the calculations; they tell when to add, subtract, multiply, or divide; they tell which numbers go with what other numbers. The study guide explains this English in much more detail than any other ELT publishers has dared to explain it.

More importantly, “Increase & Decrease Online” has eight sets of listening activities for learners to hear this grammar being used. The activities require the learner to listen to the audio, do some calculations based on what was heard, and enter the answer into an interactive worktable. The online program marks the answers, gives suggestions for correcting wrong answers, and gives successful learners a great internet reward (but only if they get all the answers right).

As stated earlier, “Increase & Decrease Online” puts numbers English directly in the hands of the learner. Business English teachers need not teach this difficult grammar; they need only to recommend the online activity to their learners. However, there is a complementary classroom activity for the more progressive instructors. “Increase & Decrease” divides the class into two main groups (for bigger classes, subgroups within these two groups). The first classroom activity is a scavenger hunt that has a list of number words and phrases to write into correctly written sentences which correctly describe the numerical changes they see in some income statements. Members in each group work together to create those sentences.

Later a member from each group will pair with a member from the other group. They will read their sentences to each other, listen to each other, and determine the calculation that has been framed by the words the learners have created themselves.

“Increase & Decrease Online” will prepare learners for an advanced online activity called “Brag, Brag, Brag.”

Because the world has thousands and thousands of intermediate-level English learners already conducting international business and technology, it’s not hard to imagine how communications skills learned with “Increase & Decrease” can save millions of dollars, euros, yen, rubles, or yuan (or whatever other currency you choose)! Regardless of whether the ELT profession wants to teach numbers English or not, the learners now have the “Increase & Decrease” study guide plus some great online listening practice.