Study for Practical Needs
– Situation-oriented Teaching of BEC
When it comes to BEC, threads of thoughts crowd into my mind. Six years’ journey from
examinee to examiner makes me overwhelmed with complex emotions, embodied in a Chinese poetry “My way ahead is long; I see no ending; yet high and low I'll search with my will unbending.”
1. Strong Tie between BEC and me
My first acquisition with BEC was traced back to the autumn of 2004 when I was in junior year. I was informed of BEC, business English exam from Cambridge, when I was at a loss what to do next after CET 6. I entered for BEC higher in that autumn with much confidence, but during the two months’ test preparations, listening comprehension was my formidable obstacle because of high speed and British accent. Well, luckily the article “a strong and living corporate culture” in Unit 6a
of Pass Cambridge BEC Higher motivated and encouraged me not to give up or surrender in the face of difficulties, so finally I passed BEC higher. Seeing the certificate, my parents delighted, friends cheering, but I cried. Efforts and hard work in those two months were rewarded and I was so excited about the hard-won achievements. I wouldn’t forget that article giving me inspiration, and in the meantime I developed great interest and confidence in business English, all of which were credited to BEC.
Cherishing passionate enthusiasm about business English, I studied for Master of Economics in business English, during which I taught BEC as a part-time job by virtue of my BEC higher certificate. I trained thousands of students and company employees, helping them gain a lot in business knowledge and English language. They showed enormous interest in business English, almost 70% of them succeeded to pass BEC exams and a large number of the students were employed in Chinese and foreign renowned
companies and enterprises. Additionally, my
educational background and teaching
experience in business English have made
me a teacher in a university. Now I am a
business English teacher in Harbin Normal
University, savoring the sweet change from
imparting BEC test skills to teaching
business English. What makes me most
excited is that I was recommended as a BEC
oral examiner. On seeing examinees I kept
recalling the scene of me taking BEC exam
and memories of the past flashed in my
mind. There is merely a table between examinee and examiner, recording my journey and stories of efforts and growth over six years and embodying the strong tie between BEC and me.
2. Limited View of BEC Study
It has been 17 years or so since BEC came to China. With the increasing popularity and acceptance of BEC, more and more study materials of BEC are available on market. The key problem, however, is the low efficiency and drawback in students’ method of study. Students tend to
focus on exam skills when they prepare for BEC exams. So as is often seen, students memorize the answers of oral tests mechanically, desperately doing plenty of reading exercises and crazily keeping in mind writing samples and templates…… Even though they devote much time and
energy, gains are little and few improvements are achieved in business English ability. It really hurts to see that!
A Chinese idiom “Guan Zhong Kui Bao” – look at a leopard through a bamboo tube only to see
a fraction of the leopard – is a best depiction of how students study BEC, I think. They just work on test skills, unfortunately overlooking the intention of BEC questions. BEC aims to equip examinees with fine language and communication ability in business context and strengthen their business English skills required by different company positions. Therefore, a profound reform in BEC teaching and study style is urgently needed.
3. Innovative Exploration of Situation-oriented Teaching
Questions in reading, listening, writing and speaking test of BEC are all designed in line with real situation and business operation in companies, such as staff training, performance improvement, product marketing and corporate culture etc. If study or teaching is organized only according to BEC reading, listening, writing and speaking, we are liable to exclusively tackle exam skills, failing to achieve BEC’s aims, not to mention functional languages in real different business situation. So it is a good and novel idea to reorganize BEC questions by topics and this can locate students in specific job situation receiving written and audio business language input (BEC reading and listening materials) and output certain oral and written business language (BEC oral and writing sections). As an illustration, let a student be an internal coordinator in a company to organize a training seminar. To start with, he reads an article about the importance of business ethics (introduction of a passage of BEC reading section), and then he writes emails to all employees about the training seminar of business ethics (introduction of BEC writing task). After that, an employee calls the coordinator’s office to confirm the time and place of the seminar (introduction of BEC listening task), and finally the coordinator organizes a discussion about business ethics after
the seminar (introduction of BEC speaking task).
I name such method “situation-oriented
Situation-oriented teaching of BEC
can allow students gains and improvements
in both scores and ability. In the first place,
students can learn frequently-used
important vocabulary and expressions in
specific business situations, so they are able
to enhance their ability in business English
and communication. In addition, students
get to know common matters in real
company operation and the accepted solutions. More importantly, with the understanding of the whole business operation, examinees are probable to answer and settle a question in a strategic and associating manner. For example, when answering questions about corporate culture in BEC oral test, students won’t be restricted to reference answers but air their opinions from the perspective of production, sales, marketing and human resources management, so in this way they experience the feeling of “When I stand on the top of Mount Tai, the other mountains appear so small.”
4. Endless Commitment to BEC Research
If the creation of situation-oriented teaching of BEC is professed as the exploration and contribution to BEC, that must be the first step in my exploration journey of BEC. Harboring the appreciation and passion for BEC, I will definitely undertake dedicated teaching and examiner task of BEC and more importantly keep exploring the benefits and profits BEC brings to us. According to BEC Examination Report, there is still a bitter gap between the pass rate in China and for candidates from all other countries. Therefore, an unavoidable mission on my shoulder is to extend and improve students’ knowledge and ability of business English, assuring them of higher pass rate of BEC.
To make endless commitment to BEC research, in the meantime, I plan to make qualitative and quantitative study of the washback effect of BEC on business English teaching, to fill in such a weak area in academic research. On the other hand, I am also interested in training and developing students’ ability of business case study, which can contribute to their achievements in BEC.
Even though “My way ahead is long; I see no ending”, I'll search with my will unbending