Business Language Curriculum Development

To teach business languages effectively, instructors need excellent materials with well conceived tasks that help students practice new vocabulary and grammatical forms while learning skills and knowledge related to the business context. The following business language courses and modules, developed by GW faculty with GW-CIBER funding, fill the need for such materials.

Business Language Modules

Business Language Modules are shorter units (about two to three weeks long) that can function independently as “chapters” either within an existing business language course or in any intermediate level (third year) business course.

Business French Module
Module Developer: Jocelyne Brant and Brad Marshall
Module Materials: Business French Module Website

Business German Module 1: Applying for a Job
Module Developer: Margaret Gonglewski
Module Materials: updated materials coming soon

Business German Module 2: Green Business
Module Developer: Margaret Gonglewski and Anna Helm
Module Materials: Business German Module 2

Business Hebrew Module
Module Developer: Yaron Peleg
Module Materials: Business Hebrew Document

Business Japanese Module 
Module Developer: Shoko Hamano and Mitsuyo Sato
Module Materials: Business Japanese Module Website

Business Language Courses

Business Language Courses are conceived as entire courses for teaching business language in the four languages below. They are geared towards the intermediate level learner (approximately third-year), include chapters centered on business topics with texts and tasks that facilitate practice with those themes and develop relevant skills.

Business Russian
Course Developer: Richard Robin
Course Materials: Business Russian Course Website

Business Arabic
Course Developer: Mohssen Esseesy
Course Materials: Business Arabic Sample Chapter
Course Book: Al-Munjiz: Advanced Business Arabic

Business Korean
Course Developer: Young-Key Kim-Renaud and Miok Pak
Course Book: The Routledge Course in Business Korean 

Business Chinese
Course Developer: Phyllis Zhang

For additional business language teaching materials, see our Business Languages Case Clearinghouse.

Other Pedagogical Materials

Business Spanish
Developing Competent Interlocutors for the Latin America’s Sustainability-Oriented Business Community
María-José de la Fuente

Project Summary

Latin America is a resource-rich region that wants to advance an ambitious and comprehensive green agenda and many US businesses want to invest in its climate-focused economic transition. As this region seeks to attract foreign investment, the US Chamber of Commerce calls this “a unique opportunity for the region to work with the US and exercise global leadership in critical areas.” In conducting international business with this region, constructive dialogues are needed to establish relations and exchange ideas. Such dialogues can be more effective if the US business community has interlocutors that possess (a) cultural understanding, (b) awareness and knowledge of the commitment of the region’s businesses to the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and (c) ability to discuss business’ sustainability matters in the area’s language: Spanish (UNESCO, 2017; Simon, 1980). Language barriers are an obstacle that US companies face when establishing trading partnerships and expanding business activities across borders. Communication costs (such as translators and interpreters) and a lack of linguistic and cross-cultural knowledge – including the business culture – can hinder activities. Research on the influence of language in international trade shows that there is a causality relation between trade and language proficiency. Proficiency in Spanish, the most used language in the western hemisphere, is a strategic asset that will grow in importance as the international market shifts its focus away from English as the lingua franca of business. As for the UN’s Agenda for Sustainable Development, Latin America is strongly committed to its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a means to change modern development patterns that have had a devastating impact on its social development and natural environment. Many Latin American countries recognize the need for the business sector to participate in these efforts and an overwhelming majority of companies in the region (80%) report that they are acting on the Agenda’s SDSs, the highest anywhere in the world (UN Global Compact, 2018). In US higher learning institutions, existing international business majors prepare students to understand and apply business skills in cross-cultural and global contexts. Most of these majors require an equivalent of an intermediate level of a foreign language, and many incorporate at least one sustainability course. However, very few emphasize the centrality of cultural and linguistic competency to the business sector or favor a truly integrative education in language and business. How can we prepare these students so they can effectively establish business relations with a Latin American business sector driven by the UN’s 2030 agenda? Currently, there is a lack of content-based language courses and pedagogical materials that can simultaneously raise international business students’ awareness and engagement with sustainable development issues and make them competent interlocutors in the Latin America’s business community. This project helps fill that void by providing the Business Languages teaching community with pedagogically appropriate materials that can help prepare business students interested in Latin America for sustainable competitiveness, so they can face the challenges of the future. Making available these materials to instructors teaching Business Spanish courses has the potential to benefit a large population of students, improve their Business Spanish proficiency and allow them to engage in conversations regarding sustainable development goals for the business sector while preparing them to build relationships with this region’s business community. At the same time, then materials address CIBER’s mandate of promoting sustainable competitiveness, which is closely related to the social context in which businesses operate. This means that linguistic and cultural understanding are strategic assets to give US businesses a competitive edge in Latin America. Therefore, investing in the language skills of the US business community is an asset to improve the US competitiveness in the region. The materials use problem-based pedagogy, a learner-centered approach where students evaluate and find solutions to real sustainability issues of the target societies and cultures in which they occur. As a result, students gain an understanding of Latin America’s business sustainability values, perspectives, needs, and actions. Each unit contains a case study directly related to one or more social and environmental (SDGs). The analysis of sustainability problems or cases is an effective strategy for college students to develop higher-level competencies as advanced bilinguals (or multilinguals) with sustainability awareness and knowledge.

Materials Overview

Unit 1

Unit 2